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Cannabis Edibles Coming to Maryland

Cannabis Edibles Coming to Maryland

medical cannabis edibles in Maryland

As they say, it’s better late than never!

Maryland legalized cannabis for medical use in 2013, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the medical cannabis industry actually opened for business. For this reason it isn’t unusual for Maryland to drag its feet when it comes to cannabis edibles in Maryland.

While medical cannabis sales have been steadily soaring since they began in 2017, the state has never had edibles on the menu. But that will be changing as soon as December.

Legalization of Medical Cannabis Edibles in Maryland

In May, 2019 Governor Larry Hogan signed cannabis edibles into the law. Over the last year and a half it has been quiet as the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission pulled together well-rounded regulations for cannabis edibles in Maryland.

In early November 2020, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission released its draft regulations for the new cannabis edibles in Maryland law. It is a lengthy script of requirements for manufacturing, processing, packaging, dosages, retail and more. But these regulations aren’t set in stone, hence why they are “draft” regulations.

The regulations are currently on the Maryland Register website for a 30-day public comment period. So for a month following its release, the public will have the ability to comment and criticize the regulations, which will lead to another editing session.

After this 30-day period, all comments will be taken in and edits on the regulation will begin. The MMCC does not specify how long this process may take. Once completed, the regulations will be submitted for one last 15-day notice period.

While they don’t specify how long their editing process may take, the MMCC did claim that the final regulations should be approved by late December or early January.

Regulation Proposals

The draft regulations span several pages with details pertaining to every aspect of cannabis edibles in Maryland, from transportation to retail packaging. But there are some key regulations that cover the basics.

For dosages, the MMCC will require all cannabis edibles in Maryland to contain no more than 10mg of THC per dose, and no more than 100mg of THC per package. They also recommend having 2.5mg and 5mg options as well. As for the packaging of the edibles, labelling will be consistent with the industry standard in Maryland with a THC label. With the addition of the edible element, packaging is also required to include ingredients and even a list of any synthetic or natural preservatives added into the product.

To go a step farther, the regulation will actually require those interested in producing cannabis edibles in Maryland to submit their complete recipe, including the production process in order to be approved. Similarly to other states, cannabis edibles in Maryland can’t resemble any shape that might be appealing to children, with the MMCC specifying that edibles should be designed in a “geometric” shape.

And like other states with cannabis edibles, Maryland will require lab testing of edibles for THC and other cannabinoids in addition to any microbiological impurities.

Regulations subject to change

Like we said, these regulations for cannabis edibles in Maryland are subject to change after the 30-day public comment period. However it is unlikely that much will change from the original regulation so that it can move forward before the end of the year.

Once approved, manufacturing and retail sale of cannabis edibles in Maryland will be permitted, and there are already dispensaries ready to take on the challenge.

Culta in Baltimore designed their vertically integrated operation to include a kitchen that could be used with the anticipation of edibles eventually being made legal. Culta’s owner Mackie Barch commented on the big move.

“Getting into food manufacturing or beverage manufacturing requires very different tools and skillsets than we have had in the industry so far,” Barch explained. “Entirely new spaces are required for food manufacturing, and there are very specific rules about how the rooms have to be designed… A lot of people are going to have to go back and redesign their facilities to get ready for this.”

Weed delivery coming to Masschusetts

Weed delivery coming to Masschusetts

weed delivery in massachusetts

Home delivery of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts is on track to begin in 2021, after the state Cannabis Control Commission moved to lock in detailed regulations for the service.

On a 3-1 vote at a meeting Tuesday, the agency affirmed among other policies that it would issue two types of weed delivery licenses. Officials said they should help cut into the unregulated pot delivery market — while also fulfilling the commission’s legislative mandate to create a more equitable playing field for Black and brown entrepreneurs who have so far struggled to enter the capital-intensive legal marijuana business.

“We’ve shown we can regulate this industry safely and fairly,” commission chairman Steve Hoffman told reporters. “I believe this is a necessary, imperative step to create equity in this marketplace . . . and minimize the illicit market.”

Two weed delivery licenses

One license, a more limited “courier” permit under which drivers would pick up individual orders on demand from brick-and-mortar marijuana shops and bring them to customers’ doorsteps for a fee, is already available to businesses; so far, 37 companies have received initial certification and are pursuing local and state approval.

The second is a new category of expanded “warehouse” weed delivery licenses (formally, “marijuana delivery operator” licenses) that essentially allow companies to operate like retailers without physical storefronts, buying marijuana products in bulk from suppliers and reselling the inventory online via home weed delivery. Applications for the expanded licenses should become available in the first half of 2021.

Entrepreneurs in the commission’s social equity and economic empowerment programs — largely Black and brown entrepreneurs affected by the war on drugs — will have exclusive access to both types of delivery licenses for three years, beginning when the first marijuana delivery operator opens for business.

Brick and Mortar dispensaries opposed

The addition of the expanded retailer-like delivery licenses to the commission’s proposed regulations in August drew howls of protest from many existing brick-and-mortar marijuana stores, which had been poised to serve as the source of all home pot deliveries under the earlier, courier-only model.

Dispensary owners argue the expanded weed delivery operations will unfairly undermine their main street businesses and, in turn, deprive municipalities of tax revenue. The Massachusetts Municipal Association and a handful of state legislators allied with the dispensaries also weighed in against the new licenses, saying in part that more time was needed to review the change.

Critics further questioned whether the warehouse-type businesses, which are subject to the same intensive security regulations as other marijuana facilities, would be affordable for disenfranchised entrepreneurs; a selling point of the original courier-only model was that it required only a van with security cameras and a small dispatch office where no cannabis was stored.

“We’re very disappointed,” David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, said in an interview. “The public, municipalities, and legislators haven’t had enough time to digest this proposal, and I don’t think the commission has done enough analysis to determine the impact on the supply chain and the marketplace.”

He added the association was weighing possible legislative or legal action in response.

More social equity in weed delivery in Massachusetts

Proponents of the expanded licenses counter that the courier licenses are financially unviable. And, they argued, white-owned recreational dispensaries that emerged from the existing medical marijuana program — which gave no consideration to equity when awarding licenses — have already had the cannabis business mostly to themselves for years.

Besides, they said, weed delivery services in other states with legal cannabis account for perhaps 20 to 30 percent of the market, hardly an Amazon-style retail armageddon.

“This is a huge step forward,” said Christopher Fevry of the Massachusetts Cannabis Association for Delivery. “Couriers are at the mercy of the retailers. If they don’t give you orders, you die, and when the exclusivity period ends, they’ll just say, ‘we don’t need you anymore.’ Now we’re in control of our own destiny.”

Regulators did take steps to address the concerns raised by critics, including limiting the number of weed delivery licenses any company can own to two.

The commission also voted to ban third-party marijuana delivery technology platforms — such as Eaze and Lantern, an offshoot of alcohol delivery firm Drizly — from having a “financial interest” in more than one cannabis delivery licensee. The policy is meant to prevent the popular websites from preferentially steering consumers to delivery companies they’re invested in while freezing out independent operators; it could also help assuage brick-and-mortar dispensary owners who feared a large Amazon-like platform would back numerous delivery firms and dominate the market.

Commissioners further opted to ban what they deemed the “ice cream truck” model, under which weed delivery operators might have prepositioned vans loaded with packaged pot products in strategic locations to fulfill anticipated orders. Instead, every order must originate from the company’s warehouse. And they left in place earlier security restrictions, including a mandate that two workers must ride in every delivery vehicle and a prohibition on delivering recreational marijuana to cities and towns that have banned retail marijuana storefronts. (Medical marijuana deliveries have long been allowed anywhere in the state.)

Commissioner Jen Flanagan, who has long opposed launching delivery operations on public safety and health grounds, made a last-ditch attempt to delay the program’s launch until 2023.

However, her motion failed 3-1, with Hoffman noting that the commission had originally planned to launch deliveries in 2018 before pulling back under pressure from Governor Charlie Baker and others who urged the agency to “crawl before it walks.” Outgoing Commissioner Britte McBride, who conceived of the original courier-only model, also opposed a delay.

“I don’t think we can wait [to address] equity or the illicit market any longer,” she said.

SOURCE ARTICLE

The States Voting on Legal Cannabis in 2020

The States Voting on Legal Cannabis in 2020

Updated on 11/5/20 to include results.
states voting on legal cannabis on November third

Every year there’s more states voting on legal cannabis. 2020 is no exception.

It’s become a regular trend. Each year, several states add an initiative to their ballot to vote for the legalization of cannabis. 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, and 11 of those states have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

It doesn’t mean that all of the initiatives are what we would ideally like, and there’s a couple states who have suffered from bad legislation.

For example, even though Vermont and Main legalized cannabis in 2018, neither had an actual regulated marketplace for legal cannabis until 2020. In other words even though cannabis was legal, there was nowhere to buy it, and selling it was still illegal.

But states voting on legal cannabis with some issues in the legislation is better than states not voting on legal cannabis at all. With that said, here’s the states voting on legal cannabis on November 3rd.

Mississippi

There are two measures on the ballot in Mississippi that aim to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.

Initiative 65 would make medical marijuana available for people with very specific qualifying conditions, according to WJTV. Patients could possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time. The initiative also sets a state tax rate. This initiative basically fully legalizes medical and recreational cannabis in the state.

Initiative 65A does not specify qualifying conditions or possession limits. Regulations would need to be set by state lawmakers. This initiative is the more restrictive option, only specifying the use of medical marijuana for chronic illnesses and terminally ill patients.​

RESULT: PASSED

Arizona

Proposition 207 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults who are 21 or older. People would be permitted to grow six marijuana plants at their home as long as the plants aren’t in public view. The Arizona Department of Health Services would be responsible for regulating marijuana facilities and stores.

Four years ago, voters narrowly rejected a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. It is looking like this year’s vote will have more support and is likely to pass.

RESULT: PASSED

Montana

Montana definitely isn’t a state that comes to mind when people think of states voting on legal cannabis, but Montana actually has two different initiatives on the ballot.

CI-118 or “Allow for a Legal Age for Marijuana Amendment” would make 21 the legal age to purchase cannabis for recreational use. In other words it would amend the Montana Constitution to authorize the state to set 21 years of age as the minimum legal age for marijuana consumption.

I-190 would be the actual regulated industry proposal that CI-118 would allow for. According to Ballotpedia, the measure would legalize the possession and use of one ounce or less or 8 grams or less of marijuana concentrate by people at least 21.

It also puts a 20% tax on legalized marijuana that would flow into the state’s general fund. But that’s not all. In fact, I-90 is actually quite comprehensive. In addition to the above, I-90 would also:

  • Direct the Montana Department of Revenue to license and regulate the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products and to inspect premises where marijuana is cultivated and sold.
  • Require licensed laboratories to test marijuana and marijuana-infused products for potency and contaminants.
  • Allocate 10.5% of the tax revenue to the state’s general fund, with the remainder dedicated to accounts for conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, healthcare programs, and local governments where marijuana is sold.
  • Allow an individual currently serving a sentence for a prior low-level marijuana offense to apply for resentencing or an expungement of the conviction.
  • Prohibit advertising of marijuana and related products.
  • Strictly regulate the packaging and labeling of marijuana products to prevent accidental ingestion and access by children.
  • Require that marijuana provider licenses only be issued to Montana residents.
  • Permit localities to regulate, ban, or restrict marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction.

RESULT: PASSED

New Jersey

Question No. 1 on the ballot would make pot legal for adults 21 and older. Medical marijuana is already legal in New Jersey, and the group that oversees the regulation of medicinal cannabis would also regulate recreational pot.

The constitutional amendment would take effect on January 1 and would make New Jersey the first state in the Mid-Atlantic to legalize marijuana.

Because of the economic impact expected to be brought in by residents of neighboring states, it’s believed passage in New Jersey could put pressure on other states in the region to pass similar measures. Unfortunately, Question No. 1 is very short and vague, which likely implies while cannabis could be legal on January 1, 2021, it might be some time before a regulated industry is operating in the state.

RESULT: PASSED

South Dakota

The state will be voting on both medicinal and recreational marijuana during the general election.

Amendment A would legalize recreational cannabis for anyone 21 or older. The measure would also require state lawmakers to pass laws that create a medical marijuana program by early 2022.

Measure 26 would only allow for the sale of medical marijuana to people with “debilitating medical conditions.” Patients cleared for the program could possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana and grow plants in their homes.

While strict, South Dakota is one of the most conservative states when it comes to cannabis, being one of the only in the nation to still not have passed any legislation regarding cannabis. For these same reasons many are unhopeful that Measure 26 or Amendment A will pass.

RESULT: PASSED

The Shady Politics of the MORE Act Vote and Cannabis Legalization [Opinion]

The Shady Politics of the MORE Act Vote and Cannabis Legalization [Opinion]

MORE Act house vote delayed

Has cannabis always been political?

While in most of our lifetimes cannabis has been illegal, it wasn’t always that way. In fact it was the complete opposite until the early 1900s.

Believe it or not, cannabis has been used for thousands of years, with traces of the plant being smoked as far back as 2,500 years. Its first use dates all the way back to 2727 BC in China where it was considered a legitimate medication. Traditional uses of cannabis for medicine might not have been as popular in the west, but that doesn’t mean the cannabis plant wasn’t just as essential.

A very brief prohibitionist history

Not only was cannabis legal prior to the 1930s, it was an essential crop. The ships that brought the colonists to America had sails made entirely from hemp fibers. Colonists were “encouraged” by law from the Queen to grow hemp as one of their staple crops.

In the 1700s and 1800s, extractions from the hemp and cannabis plant were used for medicine all over the country. In 1830, it was used to treat insomnia and migraines, and it acted as a pain reliever. From 1850 to 1942, the United States Pharmacopoeia recognized it as a legal medicine by the name “Extractum Cannabis.”

It wouldn’t be until the 1920s that the United States government would begin to lay restrictions on cannabis cultivation in the form of taxes put on farmers. After a racist, propagandized anti-cannabis movement led by Henry Anslinger, the government eventually created the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. This made it basically impossible for farmers to buy, sell or profit off of cannabis production.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The rise of the cannabis movement

Cannabis use and production certainly continued in the illicit markets across the country after prohibition in the United States. Almost 40 years after cannabis was made illegal, genetics and cultivation techniques from Europe (Holland specifically) where hydroponics was a rapidly growing industry made their way to the states.

This revolutionized how we cultivated cannabis, creating more potent cannabis with higher yields. An explosion in cannabis consumption during the 60s and 70s when the “hippy” movement took off created a perfect storm that birthed a new and booming, albeit illegal, industry in the U.S..

With a growing interest in cannabis came a renewed desire to look at why it became illegal in the first place. The reality being that the main propaganda used to make cannabis illegal was based on racist ideologies against Latinos and African Americans. A thirst for justice and the knowledge of a shameful past created a movement that continues to this day.

The movement to legalize cannabis.

The politics of cannabis legalization

The United States is a unique beast. It is the collation of 50 different states, all of which can create their own laws as long they abide the federal law put forth by the federal government. This is why half the country has legal cannabis, and the other half will still throw someone in jail for years just for having a little bit of cannabis in the car.

In a way this makes sense, as the people of the state dictate how the politicians vote. This would imply that in states where cannabis is still illegal, the people there must want it that way. But this is rarely the case. In fact, roughly two-thirds of Americans support legalization of cannabis.

So if the majority of people think cannabis should be legal, and over half the states in the country have gone ahead and just done it themselves, why hasn’t the federal government done anything?

Well that answer is easy…politics.

This article was written shortly after the news of the House of Representatives delaying their vote on the MORE Act. This bill would remove cannabis from the controlled substances list (where it is currently listed as Schedule 1 alongside heroin) and expunge criminal records of those convicted of small cannabis-related crimes.

In the United States, Democrats are considered the “progressive” party. Meaning they are the party that would normally push for something like cannabis legalization. The MORE Act itself was drafted with bipartisan efforts from Republicans and Democrats alike. Yet it was moderate democrats that voted to postpone the vote on the bill.

Why would this be? After all, the Democrats hold the majority in the House and could easily vote the bill through to the senate to begin deliberations.

But they didn’t.

Additionally the Democrats didn’t decide to postpone the vote just a few days or a couple weeks, they postponed it until at least after the election in November between now sitting President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It might seem irrelevant, but there’s a real, shady, shitty reason that they did this.

 

The “BIG” announcement

You see, it just so happens that coincidentally, and totally by chance, that the same day that the House of Representatives (i.e. Democrats) decided to postpone the vote, Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris (the Democrat nominees) pledged to decriminalize cannabis, remove it from the scheduled substances list and expunge criminal records.

Sound familiar?

It’s almost as if the Democrats postponed their House vote until after the election, so that Biden can use it to score points and gain more votes from those who want legal cannabis.

Now, if you haven’t gotten any hints of opinion thus far in this piece, here comes some.

I have a prediction.

Call me crazy, but I think there’s just a slim chance (that’s sarcasm) that if Biden is elected, the House will pass the bill through to the Senate the same week. But if Biden loses, the bill will sit dead in the House for eternity, while Democrats blame Republicans for not letting it pass.

That, my friends, is the true politics of cannabis legalization. It isn’t about figuring out if it’s safe, or can be taxed, or if it’s profitable. We know all of that is true already.

It’s about who gets to take credit, and the letter (D or R) next to their name. For politicians, legalization isn’t about the people. It isn’t about the hundreds of thousands of people in jail for small-time cannabis crimes.

It’s about them!

Can Massachusetts Recreational Cannabis Survive Coronavirus?

Can Massachusetts Recreational Cannabis Survive Coronavirus?

What happens to a federally illegal business during a national pandemic?

We are all about to see what happens in real time. As Coronavirus rapidly spreads across the United States, businesses everywhere are shutting down.

Restaurants are only doing delivery and takeout, and the only other businesses allowed to operate are those marked as “essential”. Doctors offices, pharmacies and grocery stores are understandably essential, but states are also marking liquor stores and cannabis dispensaries essential.

But not all dispensaries are so lucky to get the essential treatment.

The dispensary dilemma

Nobody would really argue that medical dispensaries are not essential. Medical cannabis users must get a doctor’s recommendation to use it, making cannabis their medicine. But recreational cannabis dispensaries are a whole different monster.

Different taxes, different regulations, different requirements. Recreational and medical cannabis, though identical in actual product, have been split into two different industries due to the progression of cannabis advocacy. While medical cannabis is just that, medicine, recreational cannabis has been put in line more with alcohol.

But while those who suffer severe alcohol addiction can actually die if they don’t have alcohol — presumably the main reason liquor stores have been deemed essential — recreational cannabis users can go cold turkey relatively easy with little side effects. And that’s why they haven’t been deemed essential in several states.

Although California and Colorado, among others, have deemed all cannabis businesses essential, Massachusetts has made headlines for shutting down all recreational cannabis sales. While it might not seem like a big deal considering hundreds of businesses have had to close down, there’s one crucial difference between recreational cannabis businesses and all others; federal legality.

No federal assistance

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we all live and will live for quite some time. With a lot of businesses being forced to close, many have resorted to lay-offs, furloughs or completely closing down. In an effort to support small businesses, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27.

The legislation provides economic assistance to small businesses, in the form of interest free loans, a paycheck protection program and more. But this is a federal program, and a business that is considered illegal on the federal level can’t receive help from federal programs.

In other words, cannabis businesses both recreational and medical cannot receive any government assistance from the federal government. So while medical dispensaries have been deemed essential, recreational dispensaries in states like Massachusetts have not. So they are forced to close with no government assistance, leaving them with no option but to close down, lay-off or shut down completely.

To simplify, recreational dispensaries in states like Massachusetts are up shit creek without a paddle.

Can recreational cannabis survive Coronavirus?

Most recreational cannabis businesses might just have to tighten up a little bit over the next couple of months in most states. But the future is cloudy for recreational dispensaries in Massachusetts. If they can’t operate at all, they can’t make money, can’t pay rent on their location, and eventually can’t keep the business running.

It would be speculation to say that the governor of Massachusetts is doing this because of his lack of support for legal cannabis — even though it took Massachusetts over 3 years to open a recreational cannabis dispensary after legalizing in 2016 due to plenty of barriers — but it’s not hard to imagine a government official using a position of power to punish an industry they do not support.

Unlike other small businesses that might have to close down but can still receive government support, recreational cannabis dispensaries are pretty much on their own to make it through the Coronavirus pandemic, with no clear end in sight. It took four years for Massachusetts to get up and running with recreational cannabis, and it only took two weeks for the state to shut it all back down.

While the future is unclear, it’s going to be a tough road ahead for all cannabis businesses in the United States.

Virginia Marijuana Laws Might Be Changing

Virginia Marijuana Laws Might Be Changing

When you think of cannabis friendly, Virginia definitely isn’t one of the states that comes to mind. But that could be changing.

The state House on Monday passed HB 972, a decriminalization bill, with bipartisan support. Delegates voted 64-34 for the measure, with a number of Republicans joining Democrats in favor. The state Senate is expected to pass its own version shortly.

If passed, the legislation would scrap criminal charges for possessing marijuana and replace them with small fines. Supporters have argued the measure is needed in part because African Americans are disproportionately charged with drug crimes.

Virginia Marijuana Laws

Virginia marijuana laws have always been strict, with the most minor offense having the potential of jail time for possession of a half ounce. Right now, a person who is found with half an ounce of the drug can be jailed for up to 30 days and/or be fined $500. The second time it happens, jail time is increased up to a year and the fine increases up to $2,500.

To make matters worse, the state has a proven track record of negatively impacting minority communities with Virginia marijuana laws, specifically people of color. In fact, people of color are currently three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people. But the reality is that no matter their skin color, people arrested for cannabis in Virginia are less likely to find jobs and housing.

If the new bill passes through the State Senate, it will be a big step in the right direction for the state after killing a full-blown legalization bill in 2019.

What is HB972?

House Bill 972 is a very simple bill. All it would do is decriminalize possession of a half ounce of cannabis, resulting in just a $25 fine if caught. With a simple, straight forward goal, it’s easy to see why the bill was able to garner bipartisan support.

Of course there are those who are against the bill, some of whom are surprisingly pro-legalization groups. The ACLU for example claims the bill doesn’t do enough, and that more people will be incarcerated for not being able to pay the $25 fine. Frankly this is asinine. If you can afford to buy a half ounce of cannabis, you can afford a $25 fine, or you shouldn’t be buying cannabis because you don’t have your priorities straight.

So the question that is being asked now that decriminalization seems likely is, when can we expect legalization?

Virginia Cannabis Legalization

It’s probably safe to say right now that Virginia marijuana laws won’t be moving toward legalization in 2020. Right now, Virginia lawmakers sent the idea of legalization to a non-partisan committee to study, they say that the study could take a year. The results may give lawmakers guidance on whether they want to re-visit legalization in 2021.

In the meantime, Virginians trying to access cannabis medically are in for quite a struggle. Virginia technically doesn’t even have a functioning medical marijuana program. What they do offer is an Affirmative Defense clause for patients who given permission by their physician to use cannabis.

However, not many doctors are prescribing cannabis because of the legal risk and lack of incentive. Not that patients would really benefit from permission anyway.

All Virginia marijuana laws allow currently are CBD oil and THC-A oil, neither of which are psychoactive or regulated. This leaves patients who are given permission very few options, including traveling across state lines to states like Maryland to obtain medical cannabis with the risk of getting arrested upon re-entry to Virginia.

Suffice to say Virginia won’t be turning into a cannabis haven any time soon, but residents can hopefully rest easy soon knowing they’ll no longer risk jail time for half a little bit of cannabis.

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