Amazon’s Pre-Employment MJ Testing, Illinois Approves More Licenses, & Denmark Extends MMJ Trial

On the #domestic front, e-commerce giant #Amazon modifies their drug screening policy for #marijuana while announcing their support for federal #cannabis reform. In an online statement released last week, Dave Clark, #CEO of the #Seattle-based company’s Worldwide #Consumer department, revealed they will eliminate pre-employment marijuana testing for all non-transportation #jobs based on the #nationwide progression toward #legalization. This comes after Amazon faced multiple legal challenges, including a possible class #action lawsuit in #NewYork, over their termination or refusal to hire #medical cannabis patients. While the country’s second-largest private employer will get rid of cannabis screening prior to hiring, Amazon will continue impairment checks and post-incident testing. In addition to the change in workplace policy, the online retailer also publically expressed support for a comprehensive federal marijuana legalization proposal with an emphasis on #social #equity entitled the MORE Act. The bill, which was recently reintroduced in Congress by Judiciary #Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler after passing the #House last year, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances #Act, expunge past marijuana-related convictions, and establish a nationwide tax to be #reinvested into communities most impacted by the war on drugs. The legislation will compete with a more modest reform measure without social equity provisions put forward by a pair of #republican representatives, as well as a highly-anticipated plan expected to be introduced by #Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other #democrats within the coming weeks. Amazon’s announcement was met with enthusiasm from advocates, and a short #stock #rally among major cannabis companies following the news.

In #Illinois, lawmakers #approve 110 additional #adult-use #cannabis #dispensary permits, in an effort to expand #industry opportunities for social #equity applicants. #House Bill 1443, which passed the #state #senate by a sweeping 50 to 3 #vote after clearing the lower chamber, will authorize two new retail #lotteries for 55 licenses each, while moving the original license #lottery forward following a year of delays. The legislation came in response to controversy surrounding that initial lottery process, which first prompted pushback when only #21 applicants qualified to receive the 75 permits up for grabs, and then lawsuits after #Governor J.B. #Pritzker’s office allowed #marijuana companies a chance to amend and resubmit their applications. Under the recent measure, the first of the new lotteries will be available for those who scored more than 85 percent on their submission for the original licensing round. The second 55-permit lottery will apply to #businesses with the qualifying score that are also majority owned by social equity applicants, which include people arrested or convicted of cannabis-related crimes and their family members, as well as longtime residents of areas most impacted by the #war on drugs. Another lottery for 5 medical marijuana dispensary permits will be created by the bill, and be open to anyone eligible for the other two. The legislation aims to #boost local participation in the state’s thriving recreational cannabis market, which surpassed 1 #billion #dollars in #April.

Overseas, regulators announce plans to extend #Denmark’s #MMJ pilot program ahead of its upcoming expiration. According to the country’s #Ministry of #Health, the temporary program will be prolonged for another four years beyond its scheduled termination at the end of #December. Under the nationwide #trial, which began in 2018, #doctors are allowed to prescribe #cannabis products to #patients suffering from either multiple #sclerosis, #spinal cord damage, #neuropathic #pain, or #cancer. The decision, which was approved by the majority of #Danish #parliamentary parties, also authorizes the permanent #cultivation and export of #medical #marijuana by licensed producers participating in the program. The move is intended to safeguard existing #investments in the country, and is expected to have a broader impact on the medical cannabis industry than the extension of domestic patient access itself. While 15 companies have operations in Denmark, including #Aurora, Bedrocan, and #MediPharm Labs, approximately 47 have been licensed in total, positioning the country to become one of #Europe’s leading cannabis production hubs. Advocates are dissatisfied with the policy, however, arguing for the expansion of the program’s qualifying conditions, greater product selection as only four are currently available, and the establishment of a permanent medical marijuana market.

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William Bradley

William Bradley

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