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.
Georgia: Legislation that would increase participation in Georgia’s medical cannabis program in an effort to resolve lawsuits filed by losing bidders sailed through the state House of Representatives Monday, March 6.
House Bill 196, which passed 170-2, would increase the number of medical cannabis production licenses the state awards to 15, up from the current six. That would allow the nine companies that went to court after they were denied licenses a new opportunity to compete. The bill also would allow the commission to increase the number of dispensaries that sell medical cannabis as the number of Georgia patients eligible for cannabis oil increases. For every 5,000 patients added to the state registry, an additional Class 2 license could be awarded. An additional Class 1 license would be authorized for every 10,000 additional patients.
The bill now moves to the state Senate.
Indiana: House Bill 1297, which would decriminalize (reduce criminal penalties for) possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, is no longer on the table for state lawmakers. According to State Representative Wendy McNamara, the Indiana House courts and criminal code chairwoman, the Indiana House would not vote on the bill this legislative session.
The report came a few days after HB 1297 became the first marijuana decriminalization bill to get a hearing at the Indiana Statehouse. According to ProCon.org, Indiana is one of 13 states where marijuana isn’t legal for recreational or medicinal use. Currently, Hoosiers are only allowed to buy, possess and use low-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), hemp products with no more than 0.3% delta-9-THC.
Kentucky: A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky is taking a step forward.
Senate Bill 47, introduced at the beginning of January, was finally assigned to a committee on Wednesday. The bill has 12 sponsors, including Republican Sen. Steve West. Senate Bill 47 would give residents in Kentucky access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe they could benefit from it. Should the bill pass, some portions of the medical cannabis program to be established would go into effect in July 2024.
The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee is meeting next Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Last year, Gov. Andy Beshear made an executive order that took effect on Jan. 1, making a small amount of medical marijuana legal in Kentucky.
North Carolina: Medical marijuana is one step closer to being legal in the state of North Carolina.
The state senate passed the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, dubbed the medical marijuana bill, that would allow people dealing with certain illnesses to take advantage of potential healing properties in cannabis products.
If passed, medical marijuana would bring millions of dollars in revenue to the state.
Meanwhile, some small business owners believe this bill cuts them out and they could potentially lose money from some of the products already being sold across the state. As the current bill is written, once the Medical Cannabis Production Commission is established, it will approve only 10 licenses for medical marijuana suppliers, and each cannot own and operate more than eight medical cannabis centers.
Tennessee: Tennesseans will likely have to wait another year before they can see any movement on medical cannabis in the state. Senate Bill 1104, brought by Tullahoma Republican Janice Bowling, failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon on nearly a party-line vote. Both Democrats on the committee, Memphis Senators London Lamar and Sara Kyle, were joined by one Republican, Springfield Sen. Kerry Roberts, in the minority of the vote. Most other cannabis-related legislation has also failed or made little progress in the legislature this session.
Last week, the House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee failed a bill by Rep. Jesse Chism (D-Memphis) that would add three nonbinding public poll questions about cannabis to the general election ballot in 2024.
Hawaii: A plan to legalize recreational marijuana advanced out of two state Senate committees Thursday — and is now moving to the full senate.
Lawmakers are trying to avoid problems that arose in other states that went beyond medicinal use.
The Senate proposal, approved by the Consumer Protection and Ways and Means Committees, is designed to encourage small licensed growers all across the state. But it’s likely to run into strong opposition in the state House. The Senate plan emphasizes small operators — no more than 5,000 square feet — about the size of a lot in a new housing subdivision.
There would be separate licenses for growers, product manufacturers and retailers, and limits on how many licenses can be held by an individual company. The bill’s primary author, Senate Consumer Protection Committee Chair Jarrett Keohokalole said the goal is to avoid large companies monopolizing the business.
Minnesota: A marijuana legalization bill cleared another Minnesota Senate committee on Wednesday, bringing the total number of panels in the chamber to advance the legislation so far this session to seven.
The Human Services Committee passed the measure from Sen. Lindsey Port (D) in a voice vote. 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.
The governor recently released his biennial budget request, which included proposed funding to implement marijuana legalization and expungements, and made projections about the millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue that his office estimates the state will earn after the reform is enacted.
New Hampshire: Recently, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a measure seeking to legalize the sale of marijuana in the state. House Bill 639 is a bipartisan effort to legalize recreational cannabis for purchase and possession. If passed, adults over 21 would be legally allowed to possess and gift up to four ounces of marijuana. However, localities would be allowed limit or ban marijuana businesses from operating in their jurisdiction.
The measure next heads to the House Ways & Means Committee for debate before moving to the House floor for a full vote. If passed, the bill moves to the Senate, where it will arguably face its toughest challenge. However, a win in both chambers does not guarantee an automatic victory for the people of New Hampshire. Recently re-elected Gov. Chris Sununu (R) says he still opposes marijuana legalization. The Governor publicly states that he does not believe that plans to legalize recreational marijuana in New Hampshire will reach his desk this year. Even if House Bill 639 does pass the House and Senate, the Governor can veto the measure, preventing it from taking effect. It is unlikely the Senate has the number of votes it would take to override a potential veto.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma voters are heading to the polls on Tuesday to decide on a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for adults.
In most counties throughout the state, the cannabis measure—State Question 820—is the only thing that voters will see on their ballot—a unique situation in the history of legalization initiatives. The measure would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, grow up to six mature plants and six seedings for personal use. The current Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis business licenses.
South Dakota: The House passed a bill Monday clarifying qualifying conditions for medical cannabis cards in the state, including PTSD.
Senate Bill 1 also removed the Department of Health from dictating which disorders can be added to the state’s list of medical cannabis use.
Rep. Ernie Otten is the prime sponsor of the bill. The bill passed on a 36 to 32 vote. It next heads to the governor’s desk for a signature.
Illinois: People who’d secured licenses to grow their own products faced a looming March 1 deadline to open their businesses. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which oversees craft grow licenses, said at the time there were no plans to extend the deadline again. Now, the deadline for the first round of license winners is Feb. 1, 2024, and Dec. 1, 2024, for the second round. But problems remain with financing.
As of March 3, the department said two craft grow operations have been given the green light out of 88 awarded licenses.
Maryland: A Maryland House of Delegates committee has advanced an amended bill containing proposed rules for legal marijuana sales and production in the state, a policy change approved by nearly two-thirds of voters through a ballot referendum last year.
The measure is intended to prepare Maryland to regulate cannabis commerce as the new state law, which will allow adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana and two grow plants at home for personal use on July 1. A companion bill on the Senate side, SB 516, sponsored by Sens. Brian Feldman (D) and Antonio Hayes (D), is scheduled for a committee hearing next Thursday.
Nevada: Las Vegas will be maintaining the most contested portion of its ordinance governing cannabis consumption lounges — a requirement that lounges are at least 1,000 feet apart, although city leaders will be allowed to waive it with a city council vote.
Las Vegas city officials made two changes before approving the consumption lounge ordinance during a meeting on Wednesday, with the city potentially issuing business licenses as soon as June. After meeting with roughly 40 cannabis proponents last month, the Las Vegas business license and community development departments added authorizations to the consumption lounge ordinance that allow for outdoor smoking areas and no longer require neighboring businesses to approve, but those portions of the ordinance will be reviewed after a year.
The updates to the ordinance also drop social equity applicant license fees to $1,500, down from $2,500. Social equity licenses are available to people disenfranchised by discriminatory drug policies of the past.
Independent and retail consumption lounge license fees remain at $10,000 per business unless that amount exceeds 3 percent of gross revenue. Renewal fees are due on a semi-annual basis.
New York: The New York state Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management will double the number of adult-use licenses in the state from 150 to 300, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office announced Thursday.
The office has so far received about 900 applications for licenses and has issued 66 provisional ones. The Office of Cannabis Management will make recommendations in April to the board on the majority of the remaining applications in the areas of the state not impacted by a court-ordered injunction. The licenses will increase proportionally in each region of the state.
Washington: Applications for Washington’s Social Equity Program are now available through Mar. 30, 2023. Over 40 licenses that were forfeited, cancelled, revoked or never issued will be available in specific jurisdictions across the state.