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Hiccup for SAFER Banking Act Senate Vote, CA Governor Signs Social Media Drug Crackdown Law, More... (10/16/23)

Workers at Story Cannabis in Maryland's Mechansville are the latest in the industry to vote to unionize, Gavin Newsom signs a social media law that aims at cracking down on online drug sales, and more.
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Marijuana Policy

GOP Sponsor of Marijuana Banking Bill Says No Senate Floor Vote Until House Passage Assured. According to a marijuana financing executive who spoke with Senate marijuana banking bill sponsor Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) last week, the key senator said a planned vote on the bill, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act (S.2860) is on hold until he is sure it can pass in the House.

While the Senate leadership has always factored the bill's prospects in the House into its thinking, Daines' comments to Pelorus Capital Group President Rob Sechrist make it clear that the bill will not move without that assurance. According to Sechrist, Daines said something to the effect that he is "going to slow this down until there's a clear path through on the House side."

Senate Majority Lader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he want to bring the bill to a Senate floor vote "as quickly as possible," but has not said the vote would depend on the state of play in the House.

Daines' goal "is to make sure that this gets passed, and not just go and die in the House," Sechrist said. "He was passionate about making sure that I understood that this is not about a political win and just getting it over to the House. He is adamant that he wants to make sure that this gets done this time all the way through."

When told some industry members would be "disappointed" to hear the vote is being delayed, Daines replied that a negative view is "not the way to look at it -- I want to make sure this gets all the way done," Secrist said.

But with the House in chaos after Republicans defenestrated former, short-lived Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), it is unclear when the chamber might get around to voting on anything, let alone whether it is ready to pass the SAFER Banking Act.

Maryland Pot Shop Workers Vote to Unionize. Workers at the Story marijuana shop in Mechanicsville have voted overwhelmingly to unionize under the aegis of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UCFW), the latest victory in wave of union organizing in the industry.

"We are stoked on the outcome of our election, and it just further illustrates what we already knew: we are a team that works together to benefit our patients, our community, and ourselves as workers," the workers' organizing committee said after the vote. "We are excited to continue providing the best medicine and overall experience to our patients and our adult-use customers. We look forward to getting down to business and negotiating a contract."

Voting took place last Thursday, with workers voting 14-2 to unionize. The vote came after workers filed for a union election through the National Labor Relations Board in August, after most eligible employees signing authorization cards supporting unionizing. The union will represent 20 employees.

Story Cannabis is a multi-state operator with stores in Arizona and Ohio as well as Maryland. The Mechanicsville store will become the first union shop owned by Story.

In 2020, MaryMed LLC in Hurlock became the first unionized pot shop in the state, but this had already seen two more shops unionize, Zen Leaf in Germantown and PharmaCann Verilife in Westminster.

Drug Policy

California Governor Signs Social Media Drug Crackdown Bill. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) last Friday signed into law a bill, Assembly Bill 1027, designed to increase cooperation between law enforcement and social media platforms in cracking down on the sale of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.

The new law requires social media platforms to add controlled substances to the list of topics where they must submit terms of service to the state attorney general and to do so by January. Laws requiring the platforms to submit terms of service already exist, but this new law requires social media companies to keep a record of communications between platform users for seven days or face a civil penalty of up to $250,000. The bill also holds social media financially liable if a minor overdoses on fentanyl purchased on their platform.

X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the law from going into effect.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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