On Friday, the United States House of Representatives voted to approve The Marijuana Opportunity and Expungement Act (MORE Act),[1] which would decriminalize cannabis. This vote marks the first time that a chamber of Congress voted on a standalone cannabis bill.  While the 228-1164 vote passed mostly on party lines, 5 Republicans voted in support of the bill, and 6 Democrats voted against.…
On December 1, 2020, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Division of Enforcement published its annual report for Fiscal Year 2020.  According to the report, the Division filed a record number of enforcement actions in 2020 and achieved a number of firsts, despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, the report provides a number of key insights into the Division’s enforcement concerns in several key areas, including compliance, digital assets, anti-money laundering (AML), market surveillance and its whistleblower program.    …
On November 30, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a final rule (“Final Rule”) that makes significant changes to the federal Antikickback Statute (“AKS”) safe harbor regulations as such regulations relate to the cost of prescription drugs as covered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  More specifically, the Final Rule amends the AKS discount safe harbor (“Discount Safe Harbor”) at 42 C.F.R. §1001.952(h) to eliminate safe harbor protection for drug discounts and rebates offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) and  Medicare Part D prescription…
Loot boxes have become a regular feature in many mainstream video games. However, while their popularity is clear amongst gamers, the legal issues and positions from regulators about their use, both in the US and abroad, are a bit more murky. By the end of 2020, several of the major console manufacturers have pledged to require games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomized virtual items. These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features. Many major publishers have made a similar commitment…
On November 11, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed an amendment (the “Amendment”) to the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“NY-WARN Act”).  The Amendment significantly expands the governmental entities that an employer must notify concerning a NY-WARN triggering event, such as a mass layoff, plant closing, reduction in hours, or relocation.…
Legislation directing the National Institute of Standards and technology (“NIST”) to create standards and guidelines for securing Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices used by Federal agencies and their contractors recently passed the Senate and is heading to the President’s desk. We have been following this legislation closely for the past two years, here and here.  The bill passed in the Senate without amendment by unanimous consent.…
A Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) plan to create a registration exemption for certain finders has generated a mixed response.  The nearly 90 comments received by the SEC by the November 12, 2020 close of the comment period reflect a clear divide along predictable lines.  Broker-dealers, issuers, and some practitioners lauded the proposal for bringing regulatory clarity to what has long been a cloudy issue while regulatory groups and investor advocates criticized the plan for allowing unregistered finders to conduct brokerage activities without sufficient investor protection mechanisms.…
On November 19, 2020, Peter Driscoll, director of the Office of Compliance Inspection and Examination (“OCIE”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), gave a speech urging advisory firms to empower their Chief Compliance Officers (“CCOs”).  The speech, made at the SEC’s annual compliance outreach conference, accompanied OCIE’s Risk Alert, issued the same day, identifying notable deficiencies and weaknesses regarding Registered Investment Advisors (“RIAs”) CCOs and compliance departments.  Driscoll’s speech complemented the Risk Alert by outlining the fundamental requirements for CCOs:  “empowered, senior and with authority.”…
Employment agreements with restrictive covenants typically contain both a forum selection clause, which determines the forum where a dispute must be heard, and a choice of law clause, which determines the law that applies to the dispute. As lawyers who regularly litigate post-employment restrictive covenant cases well know, enforcement or restrictive covenants often turns on which court decides the dispute, and what law applies, which is why these provisions are so important.  Often, however, employers consider these provisions as mere drafting afterthoughts.  They shouldn’t be, given the outsized importance they can play in determining enforcement.  Moreover, at the dispute stage…
Apple has launched, in connection with other privacy changes in iOS 14, a requirement for privacy “nutrition labels.” The labels are required for new and existing apps, and are in addition to the existing requirement of linking to the company’s long-form privacy policy. Apple will automatically generate the label based on the company’s answers to its online questionnaire. Apple is requiring companies to explain what information they -and third-party partners collect. Answers will be turned into visuals for the label (a circle “i” for example, for contact information). Companies can also include optional disclosures, like confirming that data is…
One of the methods US and EU companies rely on most frequently for the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US are standard contractual clauses. For the method to be acceptable as a valid basis for transfer of personal information, one critical step is for companies to use the version of the clauses as approved by the EU Commission. This has causes some confusion and concern, as the clauses predate GDPR and thus do not include provisions related to that 2018 law. Another area of confusion has been the recent criticism of the clauses as a valid…
On November 20, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) promulgated much-anticipated and significant final rules intended to “modernize” and “clarify” regulations regarding the Physician Self-Referral Law (“Stark Law Final Rule”) and the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS Final Rule”).  In the immediate future, Sheppard Mullin will post on this Healthcare Law Blog a comprehensive critical analysis of both the Stark Law Final Rule and the AKS Final Rule and their practical impacts.…
The Physician Payment Sunshine Act (the “Sunshine Act”) – a federal law first adopted as Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“PPACA”) – requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to collect and display information reported by applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations about the payments and other transfers of value these organizations have made to physicians and teaching hospitals. Currently, CMS fulfills its Sunshine Act obligations to collect and report data to the public through the “Open Payments” program.…
When it comes to whether unions have a right to enter an employer’s premises over the employer’s objections, California’s law is the polar opposite of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the law in most other states.  In California, unions generally have special access rights that nonlabor parties do not have.  Unions are given preferential treatment because of the state’s union-friendly public policies.  For example, under Assembly Bill 1291 (AB 1291) (AB 1291) and California Business and Professions Code Section 26001(x), any company engaged in the cultivation, packaging, distribution or sale of cannabis products cannot be licensed…