Stay up to date with the latest legalization and cannabis news with the CB 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.
North Carolina: A state bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal use is picking up support across the state, including from around Cleveland County. In April, Senate Bill 711, the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, was filed. The bill would allow for the use of medicinal marijuana in the state, as well as limited growing of the plant for medicinal use. If passed and signed into law, the bill would make medical marijuana available to patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease — all of which could see greater relief through cannabis than other pharmaceuticals.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin Republicans have again blocked the state from legalizing medical marijuana as part of the governor’s budget proposal. On Wednesday, the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee voted against a motion to re-add the cannabis reform in the 2021-2023 budget plan. This action comes one month after the same panel first voted to scrap Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) marijuana proposal’s—including both recreational and medical legalization—from the budget. The cannabis measures were among nearly 400 provisions that were proposed to be eliminated by the panel.
Connecticut: Connecticut legislative leaders introduced a sweeping new marijuana legalization bill late on Saturday, a day after announcing they’d reached a deal with the governor. A vote on the 297-page measure is expected within days, ahead of a mid-week legislative deadline. The new proposal includes significant concessions to social equity advocates, who’ve criticized the legalization plan introduced by Gov. Ned Lamont (D) earlier this year as well as details of floated proposals that emerged during the negotiations. The changes are likely to curry favor among at least some progressive Democrats in the legislature, who previously signaled they might oppose the policy change. Lawmakers are working against the clock to pass the reform by the end-of-session deadline on June 9, with other significant pieces of legislation—most notably the state budget—still in need of approval by then. Leaders said at a press briefing Saturday they’re hoping to address those matters early in the week and take up the cannabis bill on the Senate floor before Wednesday to avoid giving opponents the opportunity to run out the clock.
Delaware: A bill to legalize marijuana in Delaware is set for a House floor vote on Thursday after advancing out of another committee late last week. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Edward Osienski (D), would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Home cultivation would not be permitted, however. The proposal cleared its first committee in March and then, on Friday, it moved through the House Appropriations Committee. But while advocates are encouraged by its progress, it’s also the case that the state’s Democratic governor remains opposed to adult-use legalization. HB 150 would set a 15 percent sales tax on marijuana sales, with revenue covering the administrative costs of the adult-use program. The legislature would then decide how the remaining tax dollars should be appropriated. The Delaware Marijuana Control Act Oversight Committee would be established to regulate the market and issue business licenses. Regulators would be able to approve up to 30 retail business licenses, 30 manufacturing licenses, 60 cultivation licenses and five laboratory testing licenses for the first 16 months of implementation.
Louisiana: A bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in Louisiana won final passage in the Legislature Monday, making the penalty for smoking pot no more than a traffic ticket if Gov. John Bel Edwards signs it into law. The full Senate voted 20-17 in favor of the measure. Edwards hasn’t yet taken a public position on House Bill 652 by Shreveport Democratic Rep. Cedric Glover. The bill would make possession of 14 grams or less — about half an ounce — a misdemeanor in all cases and limit the fine to $100 with no jail time. A bill from Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson that would legalize the sale and use of marijuana died in the House earlier in the session. But a bill from Republican Houma Rep. Tanner Magee adding smokable cannabis to the state’s medical pot program options has already won final passage and has the governor’s support.
Mississippi: The basic principles of the medical marijuana initiative approved by Mississippi voters in November—but struck down recently by the state Supreme Court—should be honored, members of the Senate Public Health Committee were told Thursday. Ken Newburger, executive director of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, conceded to the committee that there are areas where the now invalidated Initiative 65 could be improved, such as allowing local governments more leeway in zoning medical marijuana dispensaries and not placing the entire program under the umbrella of the underfunded and under-resourced Mississippi State Department of Health. The hearing of the Senate Public Health Committee was the first since the Supreme Court ruled last month the medical marijuana initiative and the entire ballot initiative process invalid. Legislative leaders and Gov. Tate Reeves (R) have discussed the possibility of a special session to consider both the reinstatement of the medical marijuana program and entire initiative process where citizens can gather signatures to place issues on the ballot for voters to decide. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, whose Department of Health was tasked with enacting Initiative 65 before it was struck down by the Supreme Court, said more regulation is needed in whatever the Legislature approves. He said there is research showing that marijuana is beneficial for some health issues such as nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatments, but the research is inconclusive in other area. He said there are also risks with the use of marijuana, especially for children.
Pennsylvania: The state House on Monday approved a set of revisions to Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, seeking to make permanent some of the changes put in place temporarily because of the coronavirus pandemic. Representatives voted 164 to 38 for the bill, which would permit dispensing a three-month supply at a time, up from one month’s supply. Patients will be able to continue to pick up their medicine outside a dispensary, rather than coming inside the building. State Health Department communications director Barry Ciccocioppo said the agency was concerned about provisions of the bill he said threaten product quality and patient safety. The legislation would also let caregivers provide help to more than five patients at once and would ease the process by which contaminants must be removed before the final testing. Grower-processors would be permitted to use pesticides under standards the Agriculture Department would develop. It would permit facilities to use motion detector activated security surveillance, rather than having the system running at all hours. Most Democrats supported the bill, while about a third of House Republicans were opposed. It was sent to the state Senate.
Massachusetts: After years of stops and starts, the Cannabis Control Commission announced Friday that eligible applicants in Massachusetts can now seek pre-certification and licensure as marijuana delivery operators, a business type that regulators and advocates said will be an important part of an equitable industry.The new “marijuana delivery operator” licenses created in the new industry rules the CCC approved late last year will be available exclusively to participants in the CCC’s social equity program and economic empowerment applicants for the first three years. The new license allows its holder to buy products wholesale from growers and manufacturers and deliver them to their own customers, and requires them to follow customer verification and safety regulations. The CCC said there are 122 certified economic empowerment applicants and nearly 400 social equity program participants who are eligible for the new delivery license, which the CCC said was “created in direct response to a robust public hearing and public comment process” last year. The CCC has issued one final license and seven provisional licenses for the second prong of its delivery structure, a courier model that allows a company to charge a fee to make deliveries from CCC-licensed retailers and dispensaries.
Nevada: Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday signed Assembly Bill 341, which gives the state Cannabis Compliance Board the authority to license and regulate cannabis consumption lounges. The new law sets up two different types of lounges: ones that will attached or directly adjacent to an existing dispensary and separate, independent consumption lounges. Some lounges will likely have a bar-like set up, where customers 21 and older would be able to buy single-use or ready-to-consume marijuana products inside the lounge and consume it on-site. But there will be some flexibility for prospective owners who want to be creative with their lounge. Concepts like cafes with cannabis-infused products or marijuana-friendly yoga studios, comedy clubs and even massage parlors could be possible. Initially, there will be 20 licenses given out for the independent lounge licenses. There is no hard cap for the dispensary-associated lounges, but ownership groups will only be allowed to have a single consumption lounge license. For example, if a company has three dispensaries, it could only have one lounge. AB341 goes into effect on Oct. 1, and Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored the bill, said that it will likely take time for the cannabis board to get the regulations put together and in place. Prospective lounge owners will also have to go through the local licensing processes as well, which could add to that timeframe.
New Jersey: Following the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey, residents and visitors may have to drive to Atlantic City or to offshore communities to purchase cannabis products when they become available to the public in the next year or two. Without comment, the Margate Board of Commissioners Thursday, June 3 introduced an ordinance to prohibit all classes of cannabis businesses in the city, including cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and retail sales of cannabis. Nothing in the ordinance prevents an outside service from delivering cannabis products to residents of the city, however. Two of three commissioners previously said allowing cannabis sales is not the image the city wants to project to the community. The commission also introduced a companion ordinance that prohibits the consumption of cannabis products, including the smoking or vaping of marijuana and hashish, on public property anywhere in the city or at any public events. NJ state law already prohibits smoking and vaping on the beach.
South Dakota: South Dakota officials are working to avoid delaying the state’s medical cannabis program, which was approved by voters last year but is opposed by some state leaders. The South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) will host meetings and a telephone town hall prior to medical cannabis rules taking effect to avoid any last-minute delays for the program, the Associated Press reports. South Dakota’s medical cannabis initiative was approved last November by an overwhelming number of voters. Addressing concerns from Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R), Health Secretary Kim Malsam said in a legislative hearing last week the DOH will have a “solid set of rules” in the Fall but knows the program may change in the coming years. South Dakota made history in November 2020, passing its medical cannabis and adult-use initiatives at the same time. However, both have received blowback from law enforcement and the governor’s office. While the medical cannabis initiative is moving forward despite the governor’s attempted delays, the adult-use cannabis initiative was challenged in court on the claim that it covered more than one subject and was struck down by a circuit court earlier this year. The adult-use initiative was recently scheduled for a hearing in the South Dakota Supreme Court, where its fate hangs in the balance.
Vermont: The Vermont Cannabis Control Board said it will prioritize social equity opportunities in the state’s upcoming adult-use cannabis market. The Vermont Cannabis Control Board will prioritize equity as it begins to build a regulated adult-use cannabis market, VT Digger reports. The three-member board has until October 2022 to craft rules for cannabis retailers, producers, and labs; develop a license fee structure; and recommend who receives financial assistance from the state to open a cannabis business. To aid the Commission in their work, the legislature recently passed a bill — expected to be signed by the governor in the coming days — that will help people disproportionately affected by the war on drugs to apply for loans and grants for cannabis-related businesses.