Last Call: President Trump Says He May Support End to Federal Marijuana Ban; New Brewery Trademark Lawsuits Emerge

President Trump May Support States Setting Marijuana Policy

President Donald Trump told reporters today that he would likely support congressional efforts to end the federal ban on marijuana, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Thursday introduced the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act” as part of a bipartisan effort to amend the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to regulate marijuana without interference from the federal government.

“It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies, Warren wrote in a Twitter post Thursday.

On Friday, prior to boarding a helicopter for the G-7 Summit in Canada, Trump told reporters: “I support Sen. Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”

The move would have a significant impact on the marijuana industry, including allowing businesses to receive bank loans or set up bank accounts without fear of seizure by the government.

Trump’s potential support of the bill would put him at odds with Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions, who in January rescinded Obama-era Department of Justice protections for states in which cannabis is legal while simultaneously calling for stricter enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

Voters in nine states and Washington, D.C., have approved adult recreational use of marijuana, while 29 states have legalized medical marijuana.

In other marijuana regulatory news, on Monday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill that would have permitted licensed marijuana tasting rooms, according to the Denver Post.

“We are concerned that marijuana use at consumption establishments could result in additional impaired or intoxicated drivers on our roadways,” Hickenlooper wrote in the announcement of the veto. “This bill also poses public health risks. Allowing vaporization of marijuana in confined spaces poses a significant health risk for employees and patrons of consumption establishments.”

New Trademark Lawsuits Emerge

As Stone Brewing’s trademark infringement lawsuit against MillerCoors continues to play out, a handful of small breweries have found themselves in similar disputes.

Connecticut-based Stony Creek Brewing Company is among the latest to file a trademark infringement lawsuit, arguing that Shipyard Brewing and Peak Organic violated its mark with the release of Peak Organic’s double IPA, Ripe. In this suit, Stony Creek said Peak’s brand was “confusingly similar” to its own Ripe ‘n’ Cranky line of IPAs, according to the Portland Press Herald.

This is the second trademark lawsuit against Shipyard, which is in mediation in a separate case brought by Missouri-based Logboat Brewing.

Peak Organic brews beer at Shipyard as part of an alternating proprietorship arrangement, however, Stony Creek alleges in its filing that “Shipyard uses the assumed name Peak Organic Brewing Co., LLC to give the commercial impression to consumers that the beers brewed and sold under the name … are brewed by a microbrewery, when they are in fact brewed by the much larger regional craft brewery in Shipyard.”

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics has filed a challenge to an application by Stratford, Connecticut-beer company for the name Athletic Brewing Company, according to Brendan Palfreyman, a partner with the Harris Beach law firm in New York and creator of the website Trademark Your Beer.

Breweries Close in Denver and New Hampshire

Colorado’s Caution Brewing will be the third brewery in the Denver metro area to close this year when it shuts down on June 30, according to Denver alt-weekly Westword.

In a Facebook post, Caution Brewing wrote that “while we love what we do, we need to re-evaluate our situation in order to better serve you and the craft beer community.” However, the company added “your favorite beers will return at some point in the future.”

According to Westword, an upstart brewery has purchased Caution’s brewing equipment and agreed to take over its lease. Caution joins a growing list of Colorado-based beer companies to close this year, including Beryl’s Beer Company, Nighthawk Brewing, Powder Keg Brewing and Vindication Brewing.

Meanwhile, in Hampton, New Hampshire, Four Pines Brewing Company owner Shane Pine’s plan to open a barbecue restaurant has led to the closure of his nearly 2-year-old brewery, according to Seacoast Online.

Pine, who operates another restaurant, Community Oven, was allowed to open the brewery in July 2016 by obtaining a brewpub license, the outlet reported. However, when he applied for a liquor license for Shane’s Texas Pit, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission informed him doing so would violate cross-tier-ownership laws.

“I’m a restaurateur or I’m a brewer. I can’t be both,” Pine told Seacoast Online. “It doesn’t seem fair. I understand it’s a law … it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Pine is attempting to sell the brewery prior to his lease expiring in August.

Maria Stipp Appointed to MoviePass Board

In March, Lagunitas CEO Maria Stipp joined the board of directors of movie theater subscription service MoviePass.

Stipp, who has served as CEO of the Heineken-owned craft brewery since June 2015, said in a press release that she has been “inspired by MoviePass’ vision. simplicity and value.”

“It’s been amazing to watch the company grow in the way that it has over the past few months,” Stipp said, via a release.

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe added: “Maria has an excellent track record in the business world, and we’re thrilled to welcome her to the MoviePass board of directors. We believe her strong experience leading teams and expanding various programs will be invaluable to MoviePass as we continue to scale the company.”

Copper Theft Causes $100,000 in Losses, Damages at Empyrean Brewing

Lincoln, Nebraska-based Empyrean Brewing reported $100,000 in losses and damages after a thief removed copper from the facility on Wednesday night, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

According to reports, officers responding to the brewery discovered a duffel bag filled with copper near a roll-up door, and a search of the building revealed copper wire had been taken from electrical boxes, a bathroom and solar panels. Police are still looking for the suspect.

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