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 Nebraska senator is kicking off the start of the new session with another attempt to finally legalize medical marijuana in the state.
Sen. Anna Wishart (D) has been fighting to enact the reform over the past several years, pursuing medical cannabis legalization both through the legislature and activist-led ballot campaigns.
Now she’s filed a new bill to provide patients with certain conditions access to marijuana if they receive a doctor’s recommendation. It appears to largely mirror a revised version of legislation that advanced in committee in 2021 but ultimately stalled out in the GOP-controlled unicameral legislature.
Georgia: Georgia’s long-delayed medical marijuana program is about to take off, despite a spate of unresolved lawsuits from companies that lost out in the bidding for licenses.
The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission is expected to vote Jan. 25 on rules governing all aspects of the program from growing the leaf crop in greenhouses under close supervision to manufacturing low-THC cannabis oil to treat patients suffering from a variety of diseases to selling the product at a network of dispensaries across the state.
The commission voted in September to award the first two of six production licenses authorized in a law the General Assembly passed in 2019.
Kentucky: Legislation is currently 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 both 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: Pieces continue to fall into place for what could be a thriving medical cannabis market inside the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Qualla Boundary in 2023.
After it was made legal in 2021 and in the lead-up to medical marijuana being more widely available to buy and sell within its jurisdictional boundaries, EBCI Council members Jan. 12 voted to approve a resolution allowing legal language on the regulation of medical marijuana to be sent to the N.C. General Assembly, “to further the agenda effectively and efficiently coordinating in the administration of medical cannabis laws across the jurisdictions of the state of North Carolina and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” according to the resolution.
EBCI Chief Richard Sneed briefly addressed the council on the matter Jan. 12.
South Carolina: A bill introduced in the general assembly on Thursday to legalize medical marijuana has received praise from one activist group, and is just one of two bills of it’s kind introduced just weeks into the 2023 General Assembly session.
The bipartisan bill introduced in both houses this week, called “The Compassionate Care Act”, received praise from Americans for Prosperity South Carolina (AFP-SC), whose director says will help those suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and side effects from cancer chemotherapy. The bill would allow physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions and have it purchased from businesses certified and regulated by the state. The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the State’s pharmacy board would also be required to create regulations alongside what would be a newly-established Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.
Another bill proposed back on January 10 of this year called the “Put Patients First Act”, is similar to the previous bill but seeks to allow dispensaries the ability to grow marijuana. It also seeks to require medical cannabis users and caregivers use an ID.
The different proposed legislature have been approved for committee review.
Texas: The Texas public safety department is starting a business license application process to add more medical cannabis dispensaries to the state’s limited MMJ program.
The state’s Department of Public Safety said Monday the business license application window will remain open until April 28, according to the Dallas Morning News. The agency has not said how many licenses it will approve, only that the decision on the timing for adding licenses would not be made until this summer.
Only three MMJ dispensaries, all in central Texas, have been licensed in Texas in the past three years.
Alabama: A decision on which companies will be allowed in the cannabis industry in Alabama is expected to be decided by June 12.
A total of 94 applicants applied by the Dec. 30 deadline set by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, a 14-member board authorized in 2021 to administer and enforce the laws and rules relating to medical cannabis that now can be grown and dispensed in Alabama upon receiving a license. According to the commission, 607 requests for applications were submitted between the application period Sept. 1-Oct. 17, 2022.
Since then, the number of cities updating their ordinances to allow for cannabis dispensaries increased, according to Brittany Peters, director of external affairs for AMCC.
Delaware: Democratic lawmakers in Delaware are making another attempt to legalize and create an adult-use cannabis market after several failures over the past decade.
According to the Delaware News Journal of Wilmington, two bills introduced Friday in the state House of Representatives would set up another likely confrontation with Democratic Gov. John Carney, an outspoken opponent of legalization who’s vetoed earlier attempts. Delaware’s House speaker, Democrat Pete Schwartzkopf, has also opposed legalization efforts, the News Journal reported.
House Bill 1 would remove all penalties for possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana for those 21 and older.
HB 2 would establish a regulatory framework to possess, grow and sell cannabis as well as require a super majority for passage since it deals with taxation.
Hawaii: Hawaii lawmakers have officially filed bills to legalize marijuana in the state on Thursday, and advocates are optimistic that the reform may finally be enacted with a new pro-legalization governor in office.
Rep. Jeanné Kapela (D) and Sen. Chris Lee (D) are sponsoring the companion legislation in their respective chambers, with more than a dozen initial cosponsors signed on in total. The measures were partly informed by the finalized recommendations for legalization that a state task force developed last year.
Kapela talked about her plans to file the legislation during a press briefing last week with representatives of major advocacy organizations—including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), ACLU of Hawaii and Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.
Minnesota: Another Minnesota House committee approved a bill to legalize marijuana on Thursday, with about a dozen more panels left to go before it reaches the floor.
The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee passed the measure in a voice vote, with amendments. It now moves to the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee.
This comes about a week after the bill advanced through the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee. Rep. Zack Stephenson (D) and Sen. Lindsey Port (D) are sponsoring the legislation, which was first unveiled earlier this month, in their respective chambers. Port said that her companion bill will receive committee consideration in the coming weeks, but no meetings have been scheduled yet.
Ohio: Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill to revamp the state’s medical marijuana laws that would create a new state agency to oversee the program and allow more patients to use cannabis medicinally. The measure, Senate Bill 9, was introduced by state Senators Steve Huffman and Kirk Schuring on January 11 and on Tuesday was referred to a legislative committee for consideration. The bill is similar to another proposal from the last legislative session, Senate Bill 261, that failed to gain approval in the Ohio House of Representatives after passing in the Senate in December 2021.
Both pieces of legislation attempt to update Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2016. Under the new bill, a new state agency, the Division of Marijuana Control, would be created as part of the Ohio Department of Commerce to regulate the state’s medical marijuana program. The legislation also creates a 13-member commission responsible for oversight of the new agency and the medical program.
South Dakota: Lawmakers in South Dakota on Thursday took a step toward making significant changes to the state’s medical cannabis program.The Republican-controlled state Senate approved a bill that would broaden the list of qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana prescription, while also transferring the power to set those conditions from the South Dakota Department of Health to the state legislature.
The bill passed by a vote of 20-15, according to local news station KELO, and the legislation now moves to the state House of Representatives, where Republicans also maintain a sizable majority.
Under South Dakota’s medical cannabis law, a patient with one of the following “debilitating conditions” may use medical cannabis once he or she obtains approval from the Department of Health: A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
Colorado: Less than two weeks into the Colorado Legislature’s 2023 session and we’ve already seen three big marijuana bills introduced.
Two of those bills were introduced on January 9, the first day lawmakers convened at the State Capitol. One of the measures proposes an overhaul of the state’s marijuana delivery and social equity licensing programs, while a different bill would give more disciplinary power to state regulators investigating bad actors in the pot industry.
Proposals regarding the potency of commercial marijuana products, declining pot tax revenue and intoxicating hemp products are also being discussed at the Capitol, but no other cannabis bills have been revealed yet. Find a rundown of the current three cannabis measures below, with more to come as they’re introduced. (The summaries come from the original language of the bills, which could be amended.)
Maryland: On his first full day in office, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore directed the state to spend $46.5 million to set up the recently legalized state’s adult-use cannabis marketplace.
Voters elected Moore, a Democrat and the state’s first Black governor, at the same time they voted to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state. That law does not take effect until July 1, and a legal market that MJBizDaily estimates could reach $1 billion in sales by its fourth year might not open until 2024 or 2025.
And unlike other ballot initiatives, Maryland’s law does not include details such as licensing and distribution regulations, leaving that work up to lawmakers.
In the meantime, Moore on Thursday released $69 million in cash that his predecessor, Republican Larry Hogan, had held in reserve.
Most of that money – $46.5 million – will go toward causes related to the Cannabis Reform Act, according to Takoma-based news outlet Maryland Matters.
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