Apr 132015

MBank, the small Oregon-based financial institution that has serviced the cannabis industry since last year, told Marijuana Business Daily that it will close all of its accounts with marijuana companies in the next two months. Jef Baker, the CEO and president of MBank, said the cost and time spent on compliance is too much for the Gresham, Oregon-based community bank to handle. The company – which quickly became one of the largest banks serving the marijuana industry – has about 70 to 75 accounts with cannabis businesses, Baker said. Most of them are in Oregon, though a few are in Washington State. “We just do not have the resources to manage the compliance necessary” to service the cannabis industry, he said. “This is not what we want to do, this is what we have to do. We got into this business to serve an underserved group and I wish we could still do that.”

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed Senate Bill 94, which would have legalized the research of the hemp plant and, when allowed by federal law, would enable New Mexico’s Dept. of Agriculture to license hemp cultivation and processing. Also known as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, SB 94 would have provided the statutory framework to permit growing of hemp, naming the state’s Department of Agriculture as the agency responsible for regulation and gave the department the authority to promulgate hemp cultivation licensing rules when federal laws change. Senate Bill 94 was supported by super majorities of legislators in both the House (54-12) and the Senate (33-8). Support was strong and diverse, crossing political lines, trades, and entire industries. Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “The Governor missed an important opportunity to support New Mexico’s farmers and small business owners.”

Virginia soon will legalize the growing of industrial hemp under legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Licensed growers will be allowed to cultivate industrial hemp as part of a university-managed research program. Once the law takes effect in July, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will develop regulations for growing hemp.

A Wisconsin lawmaker says the state should legalize marijuana to reduce crime and improve the state’s economy. Rep. Melissa Sargent, a Madison Democrat, introduced a bill Monday that would legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. In a news conference Monday Sargent said that legalizing the drug would reduce crime associated with growing and selling cannabis and create jobs. But the bill will likely go up in smoke. Republicans control both chambers and don’t seem eager to support the measure. Gov. Scott Walker last spring signed into law a measure that permits the use of marijuana derivatives to treat certain medical disorders. His spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Sargent’s bill.

The co-founder of the medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, will appear in court Wednesday to dispute claims he blocked his employees’ attempts to join a union in a case that is being watched across the nation. And this isn’t even David Knowlton’s biggest problem. Knowlton, board chairman of the nonprofit Compassionate Care Foundation dispensary, is not a lawyer, and he can’t find one to represent him before the National Labor Relations Board. State law created a medicinal marijuana program, but to the federal government, growing and possessing marijuana remain illegal activities. Rules of professional conduct say attorneys cannot advise or assist their clients engage in “conduct a lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.” The law firm of Ballard Spahr of Philadelphia offered to represent the financially struggling dispensary for free but later withdrew the offer out of concern its attorneys could face ethics charges and put their licenses at risk, Knowlton said.

Oregon’s regulated recreational marijuana industry is expected to roll out sometime next year, but you may not see cannabis-infused edibles for sale until early 2017. Citing the complexity of regulating edibles, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission this month asked the Oregon Legislature for authority to delay the licensing of edible manufacturers. Lawmakers have not taken action on the liquor commission’s request. The agency asked the Oregon Health Authority to convene a panel of public health and medical experts to examine the issue of serving sizes for the recreational market. Colorado and Washington established a recommended serving as 10 milligrams of THC for edible products, but Oregon officials want more information before settling on a dose.