Every Monday, we’ll be rounding up news stories about cannabis law and legal matters, mostly in the US. Join us for this exciting time in history, the gradual end of pot prohibition, and keep track of this rapidly evolving field.
This just in…
Busted: Two Wisconsin brothers called the “Breaking Bad” of fake vape carts
Without doubt, the biggest story in cannabis law this week is the investigation in Wisconsin, in which two brothers, Tyler and Jacob Huffhines, are suspected of having run a black market vape cartridge operation – an operation big enough to be called “an empire.” After a search warrant raid on the Huffhines premises, authorities uncovered over 30K vape cartridges, which the Huffhines brothers were alleged to have been filling and distributing.
Video on the ABCNews site’s coverage of the story shows cartridge packs very similar to the ones we’ve talked about extensively on DabConnection. Speculation among law enforcement is on a possible connection between this operation and the rash of vaping-related deaths and hospitalizations in recent months. Total deaths from this epidemic now stand at six in six states.
On a related note, a “cannabis insider” in Las Vegas has interviewed with FOX News, reiterating that the problem lies in black market cartridges. He indicates that tests on black market cartridges have found mineral oil and coconut oil in vape cartridges, along with vitamin E acetate. The resulting lung injury from inhaling these oils is commonly called “Popcorn Lung,” so named because it first appeared connected to workers at popcorn processing facilities inhaling the artificial oil used to make butter flavor in popcorn.
Since we were among the first sites to start warning the public about the dangers of fake THC vape cartridges, we are committed to remain vigilant on this issue and stay on top of further developments as they unfold.
Federal bills to reschedule cannabis introduced
We’ve probably all lost count by now of how many attempts there have been to reschedule cannabis under US federal law… so here’s another one! The new bill is called the “Marijuana 1-to-3 Act,” which would move move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. Introduced by Florida 17th-district congressman Greg Steube, feel free to tweet your support there.
This falls on the heels of another, separate bill titled the “Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act.” It was introduced by two more Florida representatives, Donna Shalala (27th-district) and Matt Gaetz (1st-district), so feel free to tweet your support there, too.
The importance of rescheduling cannabis at the federal level is that states may be free to legalize all they want, but they have no support from the US government. As a result of this legal twilight zone, states face challenges to tax, regulate, and enforce cannabis policy. Cases where cannabis decisions have to be made across state and sometimes national border lines would normally lie in the country’s jurisdiction, but the policy isn’t there. Issues of interfacing between other businesses, such as insurance and banking, interfere with cannabis business and cannabis health care alike.
Making cannabis on a legal par with anabolic steroids opens the way for more states to comfortably settle their legalization issues, better coherent state-to-state and international laws, and for improved medical research. As it stands now, schedule 1 classifies cannabis as “no currently accepted medical use,” despite the overwhelming consensus of the medical community.
Banking with cannabis
Another piece of federal legislation worth keeping an eye on is an expected vote regarding cannabis and banking. Under current federal law, the cannabis industry and the banking industry have difficulty doing business with each other. New federal policy “would shield banks from federal penalties if they serve cannabis-related businesses in states where the drug has been legalized.”
So far, the American Bankers’ Association has predicted that legislation approving banking business with the cannabis industry will pass. Thanks in part, in parenthesis, to their lobbying efforts. Cannabis, either for medical or recreational purposes, is legal in 33 states so far, so this impacts the majority of the nation.
Banks are one example of businesses which have to toe federal laws as well as state laws, since any financial institution is part of a nation-wide banking system. As a result, cannabis companies have to scramble around dealing mostly in cash. There are work-arounds, but let’s face it, nothing beats a plain old bank account when you’re trying to run a business.
Til next time, dab fans!