Cannabis News Week: Senate Unveils Bill to Lift Federal Ban

The District of Columbia is furthering employment protections for workers who use cannabis.

It’s definitely a long shot for passage, but Senate Democrats finally introduced a bill to lift the federal prohibition on cannabis, leaving it to each of the states to decide for itself whether to legalize. 

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which was co-sponsored by Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey).

“Cannabis legalization has proven immensely successful at the state level, so it is time that Congress catches up with the rest of the country,” Schumer said. 

Marijuana would still be illegal in states that choose not to legalize the drug, and the Department of Justice would still provide grants to help small law enforcement departments combat black-market sales. 

“With strong restorative justice provisions for communities impacted by the drug war, support for small cannabis businesses, and expungement of federal cannabis offenses, this bill reflects long overdue, common sense drug policy,” Booker said.

The bill’s chances of gaining the 60 votes it needs to stave off a filibuster from an evenly split Senate are slim. 

And reports indicate that three Democrats — Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — may not support the bill, according to Ganjapreneur

Canadian Sales Rebounding?

Canadian cannabis sales rose in May, according to new data from Statistics Canada. It was the third monthly increase and a positive sign for a market that has seen turbulence in recent quarters. 

Cannabis sales across the country rose to C$37.9 million (US$29.3 million) in May (the most recent data-available month) from C$37.3 million in April. The 0.7% increase followed April’s 3.7% and March’s 9.7% sequentially. 

Growth was uneven across the country. Provinces with larger populations and more sales seeing the biggest increases. 

Sales in Ontario, Canada’s largest province by population, rose to C$15.2 million from C$15.1 million, British Columbia sales rose to C$5.5 million from C$5.3 million. 

Meanwhile, sales in Manitoba fell to C$1.4 million from C$1.6 million while sales in Quebec were basically flat at C$5.1 million. 

DC Offers Employees Cannabis Protection

People working in the nation’s capital may no longer be subject to retaliation if cannabis shows up on their work-related drug tests.

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022.

The bill still must undergo congressional review, as the District of Columbia is ostensibly governed by the federal government. If Congress takes no action during the 30- to 60-day review period, the measure becomes law. 

If Congress opposes the law, President Joe Biden would have to sign off on the bill

The protections do not apply to employees whose “position is designated as safety sensitive.” 

Safety sensitive means a position in which an employer determines that it is reasonably foreseeable that if the employee performs the position’s routine duties or tasks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she would likely cause actual, immediate and serious bodily injury or loss of life to self or others.”

In 2019, Bowser signed an order eliminating random drug testing for district employees in non-safety-sensitive positions. 

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