What’s up in Weed: Goings on at MJBizcon, provincial weed struggles

andreahillMay 19, 2017

By: Andrea Hill

Once again, I am pleased to bring you this instalment of my weekly blog, rounding up what’s currently happening in the cannabis industry in Canada and abroad.

What’s Up DC! MJBizCon is going down – and I’m a panelist
Obviously the coolest thing happening in the weed world this week is the fact that I’m speaking on a panel about Canada as the next frontier of cannabis at Marijuana Business Daily’s Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Washington, DC!
Along with Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos Group (MJN.V), and Jennifer Hanser, Vice President, Business Development of Tilray, I’ll be talking about what’s going on in the Canadian cannabis industry and where things are headed from here.  I’ll be preparing a special blog focusing on what we discuss, so stay tuned for that.
The conference, known as MJBizCon, is held twice a year (its other location is Las Vegas).  This year’s Washington conference has seen about 3,500 attendees and 800 exhibitors.  Check out some of my photos below and follow along on Twitter with hashtag #MJBizCon.
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Every province, except New Brunswick, concerned about legalized weed
CTV News is reporting that many provinces are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work ahead of them as the federal government moves ahead with legalizing cannabis.  The draft federal Cannabis Act contemplates that distribution and retail sale of recreational cannabis will be governed almost exclusively by the provinces.
Many provinces are worried – except New Brunswick!  The Atlantic province, with a population of about 750,000, has enthusiastically embraced recreational cannabis as an economic kickstarter for the region.  Home to well-known licensed producer Organigram Ltd (OGI.V) and cannabis medical research company Zenabis, New Brunswick has developed a college course in cannabis cultivation and recently established a new cannabis research chair at a local university who will help guide the development of public policy.
The end of “sacks of cash”? 
Bipartisan US bill aims to give cannabis companies access to banks
The draft Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, introduced by Oregon senator Jeff Merkley, was presented on Wednesday May 16.  The bill aims to prevent federal banking regulators from penalizing banks for, among other things, providing services to state-sanctioned cannabis businesses.  Thanks to Chris Barry of Dorsey & Whitney LLP Seattle for sending this along.
There is no assurance that the bill will be enacted into law.  In fact, Oregon’s Bulletin says that this is the fourth version of a bill that has failed to gain traction in US Congress since 2013.   However, it highlights the hurdles which US cannabis businesses continue to face as a result of their lack of access to traditional banking infrastructure.  Since cannabis remains a controlled substance under US federal law, federally regulated institutions such as banks can face prosecution for doing business with cannabis companies.  Denied the ability to accept credit cards or write cheques, many US cannabis businesses have been running cash-only operations – giving rise to concerns about security and financial transparency.
What’s Up in Weed is not legal or financial advice. It is a blog which is made available by SkyLaw for informational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from a lawyer. This blog is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without our permission.
If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact us at 416-759-5299 or online through SkyLaw.ca. We would be delighted to speak with you.
© Copyright SkyLaw 2017. All rights reserved. SkyLaw is a registered trademark of SkyLaw Professional Corporation.
Andrea Hill is a corporate and securities lawyer with SkyLaw Professional Corporation in Toronto. Recognized as one of Canada’s leading legal experts in corporate cannabis law, Andrea writes for the Globe and Mail about cannabis laws, and works with a broad variety of clients in the cannabis space, including publicly-listed licensed producers of marijuana, licence applicants, and ancillary businesses such as tech companies focused on the cannabis industry. For more information about Andrea, visit the SkyLaw website here.

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