Stay up to date with the latest legalization and cannabis news with the C.B. Advisors. Every week, we will release a snippet of what’s happening with each state in the cannabis industry. Did you miss last week? No worries – click here for last week’s cannabis news.
Nebraska: A legislative committee Tuesday considered proposals to harmonize Nebraska’s hemp regulation with federal standards and terminate the Nebraska Hemp Commission.
Legislative Bill 263, introduced by the Agriculture Committee at the request of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, would amend the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act to align with the federal 2018 Farm Bill in the following ways:
- Increasing the harvest window of hemp from 15 to 30 days.
- Requiring the Nebraska Hemp Commission to meet annually instead of quarterly.
- Increasing the negligence threshold of THC from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.
- Allowing the use of performance-based sampling and remediation options for hemp testing.
The Agriculture Department director would also have greater authority to match federal changes.
Iowa: Democratic lawmakers in the Iowa House of Representatives introduced legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis for adults. If passed into law, the legislation would legalize the possession of cannabis containing up to 500 milligrams of THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, for adults aged 21 and older with valid identification. The bill, which has not yet been formally introduced in the House, also sets the stage for regulated commercial cannabis sales and establishes a tax on licensed cannabis sales.
Kentucky: Legislation is pending in Kentucky, House Bill 521 and Senate Bill 186, which seeks to legalize the possession, cultivation, and use of medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis by individuals age 21 and older in the state, as well as establish a regulatory framework for retail sales.
This legislation, the L.E.T.T.’s (Legalize, Expunge, Treat, and Tax) Grow Bill, creates a Cannabis Control Board to regulate medical and adult-use cannabis markets. It outlines social equity provisions for the board and industry at large, provides employment protections for lawful cannabis consumers and permits individuals with prior marijuana-related misdemeanor convictions to petition the courts for the expungement of their criminal records.
The bills would allow adults age 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in a public place and up to twelve ounces in private, to transfer up to one ounce among adults without remuneration, and to personally cultivate up to ten mature plants. If the legislation is passed, the legal sale of medical and adult-use cannabis to consumers would take effect beginning July 1, 2024.
North Carolina: A bill to legalize the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana in North Carolina is advancing through the Republican-controlled state Legislature with support from the state’s Democratic governor. Senate Bill 3, the NC Compassionate Care Act, cleared a state Senate committee last week and could go to the floor of the full Senate for a vote in the coming weeks. If passed by both houses of the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, the bill would allow people suffering from a familiar list of conditions – including AIDS, cancer, and PTSD – to legally access marijuana with permission from a doctor.
The Senate passed a similar version of the bill last year. That bill died in the state House of Representatives without a vote.
South Carolina: A South Carolina Senate committee has approved a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
Sen. Tom Davis (R) introduced the S.C. Compassionate Care Act last month, with tweaks meant to avoid procedural problems that derailed an earlier version of the reform last year. The prior measure had cleared the full Senate but stalled out on the House floor because of a procedural issue with tax-related language. On Tuesday, in a 9-8 vote, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee used a process to advance the new legislation without physically meeting. It next heads to a floor vote.
Overall, the bill would allow patients to access cannabis from licensed dispensaries if they receive a doctor’s recommendation for the treatment of qualifying conditions.
Tennessee: On Tuesday, the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee voted on eight bills that could affect the legal status of cannabis in the state. Three bills, in particular, would directly affect cannabis legislation for the average Tennesseean.
Senate Bill 1072 would decriminalize the possession of certain amounts of marijuana. According to the bill, this could save local governments up to $15 million a year on incarceration costs.
This measure did not pass.
Senate Bill 1461 would enact the “Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act,” which would establish a medical cannabis program and would authorize access to medical cannabis on a regulated basis for patients with qualifying medical conditions. If passed, sales of medical cannabis would begin on July 1, 2024. This measure has been assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 378 would regulate the production and sale of hemp-derived cannabinoids, including delta-8 and delta-10 products. This would also make the sale of hemp-derived cannabinoids illegal for those under 21. Based on the General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee research, the market in this state, to which this legislation applies, is valued to exceed $200,000,000.
This measure was placed on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar for Feb. 28.
Texas: As Texas continues to lag behind the rest of the country in cannabis reform, a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives has introduced a bill to let the state’s municipalities and counties decide whether to legalize recreational weed. House Bill 1937, filed by State Rep. Jessica González of Dallas, would enable municipalities to make the call whether to green-light recreational weed inside their jurisdictional areas.
Adults 21 and over could possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot, including up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrates, under the bill — or up to 10 ounces in their homes. In turn, the proposal would impose a 10% tax on all cannabis products, which would fund regulation, testing, and school funding.
Minnesota: Another Minnesota House committee approved a bill to legalize marijuana in the state last Tuesday. A Senate panel also took up its version of the legislation but delayed a vote until a future meeting.
The House Health Finance and Policy Committee passed the legislation from Rep. Zack Stephenson (D) in a voice vote on Monday, marking the 10th panel to clear the reform in that chamber. With majorities in both the House and Senate and control over the governorship this session, Democratic-Farmer-Labor party officials are confident that legalization will be enacted in short order following the extensive committee consideration.
New Hampshire: The New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize marijuana on Wednesday.
The legislation, sponsored by Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R) and Minority Leader Matthew Wilhelm (D), was approved in a 234-127 vote. Speaking in opposition to the legislation, Rep. Lilli Walsh (R) argued that the bill “does not contribute to the common good” and “puts profits ahead of public health and safety.” Members of the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Liquor Subcommittee had spent weeks working on the proposal over a series of meetings, going back and forth about a variety of provisions and making amendments to the original measure.
A significant change made to the legislation from its introduced form would put the state’s existing Liquor Commission in charge of regulating the marijuana market rather than create a new independent commission, as was proposed in the original version of HB 639. The body would also be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
Oklahoma: In just under two weeks, Oklahoma voters will decide if they want an even more accessible, consumer-friendly cannabis industry when they weigh in on State Question 820, which would legalize recreational marijuana in addition to the state’s immense medical marijuana trade.
The state already has one of the loosest MMJ industries in the nation, with low barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, a liberal allowance of cannabis for essentially any medical ailment, and thousands of businesses that have sprung into existence since the market launch in 2018.
According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority database, as of Feb. 17, there were 11,910 licensed medical cannabis companies, including growers, dispensaries, processors, transporters, testing labs, waste disposal facilities, education facilities, and research facilities.
Virginia: Virginia’s recreational marijuana industry is on indefinite hold.
Less than two years after the state became the first in the South to legalize adult-use marijuana for adults 21 and older, the projected start date for legal sales of Jan. 1, 2024, has been effectively scrapped. The new law allowed Virginians to possess cannabis and cultivate up to four plants. It also called for recreational sales to begin by Jan. 1, 2024. Virginia’s part-time General Assembly meets in regular session for only 30 days in odd-numbered years, meaning there’s no time left in the state’s legislative calendar to introduce an alternative.
Lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, Feb. 25. As of Friday, the day before adjournment, both houses of the General Assembly were hammering out a compromise bill.
Washington: Last week, a Washington State legislative committee approved a bill that would permit interstate cannabis commerce between companies in states that have legalized marijuana. The measure, House Bill 1159, was advanced by the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee with a 6-5 vote on February 14. Passage of the bill comes one month after a legislative committee voted to approve companion legislation in the Washington State senate.
The bill would permit state officials to reach agreements governing interstate cannabis commerce with other states that have legalized marijuana. To be enacted, the bill requires other states to adopt similar policies and for the federal government to approve a plan authorizing cannabis trade across state lines. Federal authorization could come in the form of legislation that allows interstate cannabis commerce or through a legal opinion from the US Department of Justice “allowing or tolerating” cannabis companies to do business with regulated entities in other states, according to the text of the measure. Democratic state Rep. Sharon Wylie, the lead sponsor of the legislation in the Washington House of Representatives, said that the bill continues the work in other states to lay the groundwork for such a policy change.
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