Cannabis news briefs: Pot is the fastest growing job market in the US, federal employees might win right to use marijuana, New Jersey lawmakers come to terms, and Florida repeals smoking ban

According to a report by Leafly and Whitney Economics, the marijuana industry added 64,389 jobs in 2018, an increase of 44 percent from the year before. There are currently well over 200,000 legal cannabis jobs in the U.S. When ancillary business is factored in, that number jumps to 296,000.

According to the report, the number of legal marijuana jobs in the U.S. now surpasses coal mining (52,000), textile manufacturing (112,000), and brewery workers (69,000), and in 2018, with California alone, projected to add more than 10,000 cannabis jobs this year. You can download a PDF of cannabis jobs report here.

Near unanimous support for legal weed amongst presidential hopefuls

Support for legalization has become so mainstream that the field of 2020 presidential hopefuls is nearly unanimous in their support of enacting federal cannabis reforms. This is not surprising, considering the vast majority of governors, senators, and representatives hail from states that have legalized pot in one form or another (with total disregard for Federal cannabis policies, might we add). Check out each of the candidate’s views on legal weed here.

Bill to protect federal employees from being fired for cannabis use

A bipartisan has been introduced in Congress on Tuesday which could prevent Federal agencies from firing employees who use cannabis in states where the drug has been legalized. The bill, titled the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act, would still allow employers to conduct drug testing if a worker is suspected of being intoxicated on the job, but it would not apply to federal employees who require top-secret clearance.

[Earl Blumenauer enlists Captain America in the fight for cannabis reform]

The bill was filed by Reps. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK), along with eight other cosponsors. “I’m pleased to join Representative Crist in introducing this legislation today. I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” Young said, adding that “the last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities.”

State-by-state

After many months of debate, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and state lawmakers have come to an agreement to pass recreational weed legislation, potentially making the East Coast state the second to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislative process. The proposed bill will also impose an excise tax on retail sales, expunge low-level convictions for marijuana possession, and provide incentives for minorities and women to enter the business. Assuming the bill is cleared by two committees today, New Jersey could become the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adult-use as soon as next week. PotNetwork will have more on this story in the coming days.

[Cannabis industry prepares multi-million dollar war chests for Washington]

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Florida legislators beat Gov. Ron DeSantis’ deadline of March 15 to pass legislation which would lift the statewide ban on smoking medical marijuana. Earlier this year, vowing to fight a smokables ban through the courts, if necessary, DeSantis admonished lawmakers to repeal the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana. Bill SB 182 did just that last week. The bill passed the House by a landslide, 101-11 vote, and in the Senate by a vote of 38-0. Under the measure, doctors may approve up to a six-month supply of smokable medical marijuana—triple the current limit—while stipulating that prerolls and rolling papers will not be available at dispensaries in the state. The bill is now heading to the Governor's desk for signing. It could take weeks or even months before rules on the production and sale of smokables are drafted. PotNetwork’s Meg Ellis has more on the Florida smoking ban reversal.

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has said she will add the legalization of recreational marijuana to the state’s agenda of the 2020 legislative session. Earlier this year, a bipartisan proposal to legalize recreational cannabis through state-run stores narrowly won House approval but stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 323 last week under which penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana would be reduced to a $50 fine for possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana.

[Vicente Fox joins Helix TCS, continues to push for cannabis legalization]

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California State Sen. Mike McGuire, along with countless cannabis industry advocates, is worried that the legal California cannabis industry is careening towards what advocates are calling a possible “extinction event”. According to state regulatory data, an estimated 10,000 temporary cannabis business licenses across the Golden State could expire before provisional licenses can be issued by the three state licensing agencies. As emerging cannabis markets grapple with balancing supply and demand, some are experiencing gluts, while others are facing crippling shortages. When legalized recreational marijuana hit store shelves in Canada, the country almost immediately faced a major shortage that resulted in people flocking to cannabis dispensaries like a Black Friday sale. More on this story here. Meanwhile, many are asking the question, “will California run out of legal marijuana?” Some think it could happen as soon as this summer.

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The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has released a draft of rules for the state's marijuana cultivation facilities, dispensaries, and manufacturing facilities. Under Amendment 2, formally known as Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution, the DHSS is required to have the state’s medical cannabis program's rules finalized by June 4.

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In Connecticut, lawmakers have announced a plan to legalize recreational marijuana. Rather then one comprehensive bill, legislators plan to file several pieces of legislation. “Legalizing a substance that has been illegal for more than 80 years is a complicated process,” Rep. Michael D’Agostino, co-chair of the General Law Committee, said during a press conference. “And the way we approached it this year was to divide this process into three main areas: regulation, decriminalization, and monetization.” According to a report in Marijuana Moment, “each area will be considered by the relevant committee—General Law, Judiciary, and Finance.” The main bill legalizes up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana for adults 21 and older, while including a process to expunge past marijuana possession convictions, and another proposes the development of a regulatory structure for cannabis cultivation and sales.

[Florida universities partner with cannabis sector in hemp research initiative]

Around the World

Latin America hosts some of the most progressive medical marijuana deregulations in the world. A total of eight countries have legalized some form of medical marijuana use across Central and South America. Each country’s legislation permits different levels of cultivation, distribution, and manufacturing, which can represent significant monetary gains for investors and the nations themselves. Check out Jordan Shapiro’s report, “Country Breakdown: Access to medical cannabis in Latin America” here.

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