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Detroit to issue recreational marijuana licenses in summer 2021

Detroit to issue recreational marijuana licenses in summer 2021

Detroit — Starting January, longtime city residents will be the first to apply for certification and secure recreational marijuana licenses by the summer, city officials announced Wednesday.

Mayor Mike Duggan and councilman James Tate unveiled a timeline urging residents eager to jumpstart their marijuana business to begin by applying for Detroit Legacy certification opening online Jan. 19. The first licenses could be issued to qualified residents as soon as June.

Tender Jacob Samways, left, lets Gregg Etzel, 67, of Dundee smell some marijuana flowers during the first day of sales of recreational marijuana at Exclusive Provisioning Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Dec. 1, 2019.

The city’s long-awaited ordinance for recreational marijuana, which was unveiled in October, guarantees no less than half of all licenses awarded will go to legacy residents.

“It’s by far the most controversial provision,” Duggan said. “The city will not issue a license to any business unless 50% of the licenses in that category are Detroiters. Which means if you’re from outside the city, you can’t get a license unless a Detroiter already has one. We’ll never go below 50%.”

The plan, city leaders say, was crafted to ensure residents disproportionately affected by the nation’s failed “War on Drugs” will have an equitable opportunity to participate in an industry that’s estimated to yield $3 billion in annual sales. In late November, the city council unanimously approved the ordinance.

“It was imperative for us to ensure we right that wrong,” Tate said. “We have individuals who are making a very good living on marijuana today, the same plant that created this situation of mass incarceration around our country in the city of Detroit, so this is an opportunity for us.”

Applicants can qualify for the “legacy” certification if they’ve lived in Detroit for 15 of the last 30 years; lived in Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and are low-income; or lived in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years and have a past marijuana-related conviction.

Legacy Detroiters will receive benefits including reduced fees, technical assistance and a six-week period when only legacy Detroiter applications will be reviewed before the rest of the public by the city’s Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department.

Legacy Detroiters will be able to purchase city-owned land at 25% of the fair market value and all application fees be slashed to 1% of the total cost.

Detroit officials have announced plans to give certain residents a head start and other assistance in applying for marijuana licenses.

“These are for real Detroiters, those who have roots in the community,” Duggan said. “Or you can qualify as a business legacy, owned and controlled 51% by individuals with the legacy certification.”

Despite the scrutiny they face, “Detroit is ready for this huge lift,” Tate said.

He added it was rare to witness overwhelming excitement about an ordinance but said it’s because “now (residents) have that sense of opportunity and hope.”

How to apply

The adult-use law is expected to go into effect in January and Detroiters can start by reviewing the process at detroitmeansbusiness.org.

Starting Jan. 19, the website will open for applications for legacy certification. Applicants will also need state certification through the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency.

The state requirements include a $6,000 fee with reductions for those involved in social equity programs. Applicants must provide the state information on the company and have a personal background check.

The state process could take two to three months and Duggan said Detroit applicants can begin the city process in January before state prequalifications are complete.

Starting April 1, Detroiters and general applicants will able to apply for licenses through the Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

Legacy Detroiters will be the first applicants reviewed for licenses starting May 1. General applications will be reviewed starting Aug. 1.

City licensing fees will cost $1,000, but only $10 for legacy Detroiters.

“We are going to change the inequity on Detroit versus non-Detroit businesses,” Duggan said. “We’re doing everything we can to create every opportunity for Detroiters to start these businesses.”

The city will license up to 75 adult-use retailers, the same number it allows for medical marijuana provisioning centers. Officials said it amounted to one dispensary every two square miles in the city.

Applicants will need:

  • Detailed business plans
  • Three years of income tax returns
  • Authorizations for background checks
  • Property tax clearances and clearances of any blight
  • An address for the business

Those without an address can obtain a provisional license valid for one year and for information on properties. Detroit officials have said only four of the city’s 46 medical marijuana dispensaries — permitted under a law approved by Detroit’s council in 2018 — are owned by residents.

Mitzi Ruddock, a 40-year-old Detroit single mother with a past marijuana conviction, told The News that having a seat at the table made a difference.

“I and many other Detroiters have sacrificed so much to see the day that brings generational wealth to our children through legal cannabis businesses,” said Ruddock.

Read the full story on The Detroit News

The Future of Legal Cannabis in Florida

The Future of Legal Cannabis in Florida

legal cannabis in Florida

The passing of the MORE Act in the House has gotten Floridians talking about their future.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to decriminalize marijuana. Most Democrats supported the bill that would enact that change. Most Republicans did not. The bill is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

Was Congress’ historic vote an early sign of momentum to legalize marijuana across the United States? Or is was it a low-stakes move on a splashy issue that’s unlikely to go anywhere?

Florida is home to plenty who are interested in the answer.

“We talk all the time on the right about the need to empower people and empower states,” U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said in an impassioned speech on the House floor in support of the bill, the MORE Act. “Right now, the federal policy on cannabis constrains our people. It limits our states.”

Gaetz, who helped author Florida’s very first medical marijuana program as a state representative in 2014, was one of just five Republicans to support the bill. Another Florida Republican, Brian Mast, R-Palm City, also voted for the measure. Mast’s office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In addition to essentially legalizing marijuana at the federal level, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act establishes a federal tax on cannabis products. That tax money would be set aside in a trust fund for people and businesses that have been affected by the federal war on drugs. A 2020 study by the American Civil Liberties Union showed that Black Americans are nearly four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite using the drug at a similar rate.

The MORE Act, if signed into law, would also start a formal process for expunging federal marijuana convictions. People serving federal sentences for cannabis-related crimes would get review hearings.

It’s unclear how many Floridians are in federal prison for marijuana-related crimes. But FBI data showed that in 2018, 40 percent of all state and local drug arrests were for marijuana-related offenses. More than 90 percent of those arrests were for possession, according to the Pew Research Center.

How Oklahoma Became the Nation’s Hottest Weed Market

How Oklahoma Became the Nation’s Hottest Weed Market

How oklahoma became the largest cannabis market in the country

Oklahoma entered the world of legal cannabis late, but its hands-off approach launched a boom and a new nickname: ‘Toke-lahoma.’

WELLSTON, Oklahoma—One day in the early fall of 2018, while scrutinizing the finances of his thriving Colorado garden supply business, Chip Baker noticed a curious development: transportation costs had spiked fivefold. The surge, he quickly determined, was due to huge shipments of cultivation supplies—potting soil, grow lights, dehumidifiers, fertilizer, water filters—to Oklahoma.

Baker, who has been growing weed since he was 13 in Georgia, has cultivated crops in some of the world’s most notorious marijuana hotspots, from the forests of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle to the lake region of Switzerland to the mountains of Colorado. Oklahoma was not exactly on his radar. So one weekend in October, Baker and his wife Jessica decided to take a drive to see where all their products were ending up.

Voters in the staunchly conservative state had just four months earlier authorized a medical marijuana program and sales were just beginning. The Bakers immediately saw the potential for the fledgling market. With no limits on marijuana business licenses, scant restrictions on who can obtain a medical card, and cheap land, energy and building materials, they believed Oklahoma could become a free-market weed utopia and they wanted in.
Within two weeks, they found a house to rent in Broken Bow and by February had secured a lease on an empty Oklahoma City strip mall. Eventually they purchased a 110-acre plot of land down a red dirt road about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City that had previously been a breeding ground for fighting cocks and started growing high-grade strains of cannabis with names like Purple Punch, Cookies and Cream and Miracle Alien.“This is exactly like Humboldt County was in the late 90s,” Baker says, as a trio of workers chop down marijuana plants that survived a recent ice storm. “The effect this is going to have on the cannabis nation is going to be incredible.”Oklahoma is now the biggest medical marijuana market in the country on a per capita basis. More than 360,000 Oklahomans—nearly 10 percent of the state’s population—have acquired medical marijuana cards over the last two years. By comparison, New Mexico has the country’s second most popular program, with about 5 percent of state residents obtaining medical cards. Last month, sales since 2018 surpassed $1 billion.
To meet that demand, Oklahoma has more than 9,000 licensed marijuana businesses, including nearly 2,000 dispensaries and almost 6,000 grow operations. In comparison, Colorado—the country’s oldest recreational marijuana market, with a population almost 50 percent larger than Oklahoma—has barely half as many licensed dispensaries and less than 20 percent as many grow operations. In Ardmore, a town of 25,000 in the oil patch near the Texas border, there are 36 licensed dispensaries—roughly one for every 700 residents. In neighboring Wilson (pop. 1,695), state officials have issued 32 cultivation licenses, meaning about one out of 50 residents can legally grow weed.
Retail sales drive application surge among Missouri medical cannabis patients

Retail sales drive application surge among Missouri medical cannabis patients

Missouri medical cannabis

Patient, caregiver applications increase more than 60 percent as dispensaries open statewide.

The continuing rollout of retail medical cannabis sales across Missouri appears to be fueling a new surge in prospective patient and caregiver interest, state records show.

On Monday, the state Department of Health and Senior Services reported approving nearly 70,000 patients and caregivers — with another 17,000-plus application (including those deactivated or that expired without renewal) pending review.

The six weeks since the state’s first sale of medical cannabis by St. Louis County dispensary N’Bliss on Oct. 17 have seen a weekly average of more than 1,600 new patient and caregiver applications to the state.

By comparison, the state had received roughly 1,000 such new applications each week since the program’s June 2019 start. Excluding the shortened holiday week of Thanksgiving, the short-term increase tops 70 percent.

“As the Missouri medical cannabis industry literally takes shape before our eyes, it’s no surprise that more patients and caregivers are signing up,” said Andrew Mullins, executive director of MoCannTrade (Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association). “Patient participation has already exceeded levels seen in other states at similar junctures, and we fully expect interest to only grow as more businesses come online.”

As of Wednesday, Nov. 25, the state had approved 30 medical cannabis businesses for operation, including 16 retail dispensaries and 10 cultivation sites. Another 35 businesses are awaiting final state inspections.

The end-of-2020 green rush also means the rollout of thousands of new jobs for Missourians. Through Monday, DHSS reports receiving more than 900 agent ID application requests as part of the screening process for medical cannabis workers, with 857 approved to date.

US House passes historic bill to legalize cannabis at federal level

US House passes historic bill to legalize cannabis at federal level

US house passes historic cannabis legalization bill MORE Act

In a groundbreaking vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a comprehensive bill that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, ending the federal government’s decades-old prohibition on the plant.

Lawmakers in effect voted to legalize marijuana by approving the social justice-focused Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act by a margin of 228-164 after an hour of debate. A handful of Republicans voted for the measure.

The vote – while largely symbolic because the bill still must pass the Senate – comes only two days after the United Nations took the historic step of reclassifying cannabis as a less dangerous drug.

Opponents of the MORE Act criticized Democrats for prioritizing marijuana during the coronavirus crisis and voiced concerns about health risks for youth.

The MORE Act

The legislation could potentially open up an already fast-growing, multibillion-dollar industry to billions of dollars of additional business opportunities and interstate commerce over time.

However, the vote Friday will prove to be emblematic unless Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate by winning two run-off races in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Even then, the more conservative Senate might be resistant to such a major change in federal marijuana policy.

“I have been waiting for this historic moment for a long time. It is happening (Friday) because it has been demanded by the voters, by facts and by the momentum behind this issue,” U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and a Democrat from Oregon, said in a statement distributed late Thursday.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill a year ago in what then was seen as a landmark development.

What’s misunderstood about the MORE Act

The measure wouldn’t create a federal licensing or federal regulatory framework. States would, however, continue to regulate marijuana as they see fit, without federal interference.

The MORE Act decriminalizes and deschedules cannabis,” said Randal Meyer, the executive director of the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce.

“It would allow state-legal businesses to operate in a federally legal environment, with business-tax deductibility and access to legal processes, and permit states to set their own cannabis policy, be it total prohibition or not.”

Steve Fox, strategic adviser to the Cannabis Trade Federation, said: “The MORE Act is a wonderful piece of legislation that would end cannabis prohibition at the federal level and take some critical and much needed steps toward restorative justice. It would provide major benefits to cannabis businesses, which would become legal at the federal level.”

Businesses, he said, would have greater access to financial services and be freed from Section 280E of the federal tax code, which currently prevents marijuana companies from taking deductions for ordinary business expenses.

“The MORE Act does not, however, establish a regulatory framework for cannabis at the federal level. So, from an industry perspective, the MORE Act is just one step in a longer process,” Fox said.

Vincent Sliwoski, a cannabis attorney at Harris Bricken in Portland, Oregon, echoed Fox, noting that licensed marijuana commerce will remain in place unless changed by states or local jurisdictions.

“What the MORE Act actually does is remove marijuana from control under the federal Controlled Substances Act while adding a 5% federal excise tax and tacking on key provisions like expungement for past marijuana convictions under federal laws. As with alcohol, there will be no federal business licensing element.”

He also emphasized that there would be “a lot of benefits here for state-licensed cannabis businesses, including everything from banking options to tax relief under (Internal Revenue Service) code 280E to federal trademark availability.”

Experts also note that they expect a number of federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Treasury and the Department of Agriculture, to weigh in on various issues, including health claims, cultivation standards and banking issues.

United Nations votes to reschedule cannabis in historic vote

United Nations votes to reschedule cannabis in historic vote

UN cannabis vote to list as medicine

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on Wednesday accepted a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The historic vote in Vienna could have far-reaching implications for the global medical cannabis industry, ranging from regulatory oversight to scientific research into the plant and its use as a medicine.

The eagerly awaited approval of Recommendation 5.1 had a slim majority in favor with 27 votes for, one abstention and 25 votes against.

The CND – the main drug policymaking body within the United Nations – turned down all five remaining recommendations.

The passage of Recommendation 5.1 carries broad symbolic significance for medical cannabis, as it could help boost medical cannabis legalization efforts around the globe now that the CND tacitly acknowledges the medical utility of the drug.

“The medical cannabis wave has accelerated in recent years already, but this will give it another boost,” Martin Jelsma, drugs and democracy program director at the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“And for those countries that basically mirror the U.N. scheduling in their domestic legislation, it may lead to national descheduling and remove obstacles to use cannabis for medical and research purposes.”

The vote could encourage countries to reevaluate how cannabis is classified on their own lists of narcotic drugs, potentially paving the way for more research into medical marijuana and its use as a treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions.

“While the move doesn’t totally free the plant from treaty control, it’s a giant step toward the normalization of cannabis in medicine above all but also in our societies generally,” independent researcher Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli of CND Monitor told MJBizDaily.

“Decades of efforts have been necessary to remove cannabis from Schedule IV, with implications that will slowly but surely be seen over the next decades.”

Drugs in Schedule IV of the 1961 treaty – where, until Wednesday, cannabis sat alongside heroin – are a subset of those already in Schedule I.

Schedule I – which includes fentanyl – already requires the highest levels of international control.

The schedules of the international drug-control conventions categorize drugs considering their medical utility versus the possible harm they could cause.

Only the 53 current member states of the CND had an opportunity to vote, but the decision applies to all signatories of the international drug control conventions.

What should not be expected is a loosening of international controls governing medical cannabis.

 

Read the rest of the story from Marijuana Business Daily

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