Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
Jun 5, 2019

LEAD STORY

Illinois is the unofficial 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana and the first state to legalize marijuana sales through the legislative process versus ballot initiative.  The comprehensive bill would legalize recreational marijuana in 2020, addresses the sale and tax of the drug, and allow residents to expunge their records.  Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been an advocate for marijuana legalization and said he would sign the bill.

 

THE LOWDOWN

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois residents 21 or older to legally possess about an ounce of marijuana and non-residents of Illinois will be permitted to possess about half that amount.  A report indicates that Illinois will be one of the most lucrative cannabis markets in the U.S. and is expected to grow upwards of 20 times larger than its medicinal sector.  It would create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate $1.6 billion in revenue annually, which would mean $500 million in new annual revenue for the state of Illinois.  It will also allow Illinois residents convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana to petition to have their records expunged if the offense is not associated with a violent crime – approximately 770,000 Illinois residents could qualify.

 

FARM BILL CONFUSION

At the end of last year, Congress passed the Farm Bill, which legalized hemp (previously a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act under marijuana).  But it didn’t legalize cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, generally.  CBD is legal if derived from hemp and produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill.  Indeed, then FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., issued a statement explicitly affirming the agency’s authority to regulate products containing CBD and his concern with products not approved by the FDA containing CBD.

 

FDA HEARING

The Food and Drug Administration held a hearing last Friday to collect information about cannabis compounds, including CBD.  Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless noted critical questions remain about the safety of CBD, such as how much is safe to use daily.  The agency has said CBD is not allowed in food, drinks or supplements.  We’ll keep watching as regulations are sure to be forthcoming.

 

Supreme Court on Unemployment

HIGH COURT

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers must raise objections timely to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, otherwise it will be seen as a waiver of its objection in federal court.  Currently, it is a mandatory prerequisite for an employee to file a charge with the EEOC before filing an employment discrimination Title VII lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act.  In this decision, the plaintiff is allowed to attempt to prove in court that an employer discriminated against her based on her religion, even though she didn’t first raise this claim before the EEOC.

 

SOO…

Employers need to carefully review employment Title VII lawsuits and timely raise any objections that any allegations in the complaint can be dismissed as a result of the plaintiff’s failure to raise the allegation with the EEOC.  The court affirmed that the EEOC charge-filing is still a mandatory prerequisite to filing a federal suit.

 

Making Our Way Around the Country

GIG ECONOMY

The California Assembly passed a bill that would write into law standards adopted last year by California’s high court to determine whether workers fall under the classification of an employee or independent contractor.  Assembly Bill 5 would adopted the ABC test to determine whether someone is an independent contractor and uses three factors: A) whether the workers is free from control and direction of the business, B) whether they perform work outside the entity’s business, and C) whether they decide to do so independently.  Currently, the bill grants exemptions to insurance agents, real estate agents, hair stylists, and physicians.  AB 5 is now in the state Senate for consideration, and Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t indicated whether he supports AB 5.

 

CORPORATE BOARDS

Legislation aimed to diversify corporate boards in Illinois removed key provisions that would have mandated minority representation.  House Bill 3394 would have required Illinois companies to have at least one woman, an African-American and a Latino on their boards.  The bill, which is now on its way to Gov. Pritzker’s desk, mandates that publicly traded companies in Illinois report on their website the demographics of their board and executive ranks as well as its plans for promoting diversity in the workplace.  It also requires an annual report card on Illinois companies’ diversity to be published by the University of Illinois.

 

UPDATES

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law the compromised workers’ compensation bill passed last month by the Oklahoma Legislature.  Among some of the changes, the bill increased benefits for both temporary and partial total disability and extends the weeks an injured worker could receive benefits, as well as addressed the “course and scope of employment” as the new legislation would add the words “unless the employer owns or maintains exclusive control over the area.” Also, don’t forget that Kentucky’s workers’ compensation drug formulary begins July 1.  Kentucky implemented the Official Disability Guidelines (ODG) formulary for use in the treatment of injured workers.  The establishment of a drug formulary was mandated by House Bill 2 last year.

 

75 YEARS

This week marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, commemorating the largest invasion by air, land, and sea in history where more than 150,000 soldiers from the U.S., Britain, and Canada stormed the Nazi-occupied French beaches of Normandy. The youngest D-Day veterans are in their mid-90s and is expected to represent that last large gathering of D-Day veterans around the globe.  Institutions across the U.S. will be hosting events and exhibitions to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and to celebrate the victories of veterans.  Let’s remember so we never forget.

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