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New York bill would allow conditional licenses for cannabis cultivation

New York bill would allow conditional licenses for cannabis cultivation

New York bill for conditional cannabis licenses

While the Office of Cannabis Management lags behind establishing a regulation and licensing process for recreational cannabis in New York, lawmakers are trying to find a workaround in the meantime.

In an effort to ensure that equity applicants — those who will open dispensaries first in the state — have product on their shelves when they open, a bill has been introduced to permit limited cultivation of recreational cannabis via already licensed hemp farmers in the state. Assembly Bill A2682A and Senate Bill S8084A propose the use of “conditional adult-use cultivator licenses” that would give cannabis-adjacent growers (i.e. hemp growers) the ability to plant and process recreational marijuana.

Assembly Speaker Crystal Peoples-Stokes was a sponsor of the bill and one its biggest proponents.

“It provides a conditional license to make sure when licensing is in place that equity business will have a product to put on their shelves,” she said. The legislation would only permit recreational cultivation licenses to valid industrial hemp growers that have been authorized from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, as of December 31, 2021.

With the outdoor planting season beginning in May in New York, legislators are hoping that the bill will pass before then. Should the bill pass, the conditional licenses would eventually expire, requiring the grower to apply for a full license.

New York legalized cannabis for adult use in 2021. However the state has yet to establish a regulated market and regulators say legal sales likely won’t begin until 2023.

 
South Carolina medical marijuana bill approved by Senate

South Carolina medical marijuana bill approved by Senate

South Carolina medical marijuana bill

A South Carolina medical marijuana bill pre-filed in late 2020 has finally been approved by the Senate, and will now go on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Compassionate Care Act was passed in the Senate on its third reading February 10. Initial passage was expected a day prior following a bipartisan vote to advance the bill, however Thursday’s voice vote means the legislation will be formally transitioned to the other body.

Passed through the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in March 2021, the bill was blocked by a lone senator who prevented it from reaching the chamber floor. Republican Sen. Tom Davis has been the driving force behind the Compassionate Care Act, and doubled his efforts following the blockage in 2021 to get it across the finish line.

The state’s Governor Henry McMaster, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that it is still too soon to comment on the proposal. “This is on that’s going to depend on a lot of things,” he told a local station. McMaster added that he would be waiting for the final version before deciding whether or not to sign off on it if the bill hits his desk.

As it stands, the current bill would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. Smokable products, as well as home cultivation of cannabis by patients or their caretakers, would be prohibited. Simply possessing the plant form of cannabis could be punished as a misdemeanor.

Qualifying conditions for medical cannabis include cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, autism, nausea in homebound or end-of-life patients, muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The bill would also allow access for patients with “any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care.” An example of this would be severe or persistent pain.

If the South Carolina medical marijuana bill were to pass and be signed into law, purchases of medical marijuana would be subject to the state’s 6% sales tax. Local jurisdictions would also be able to levy an additional tax. The state also has plans to handle dispensaries differently as it stands currently.

Rather than traditional dispensaries that are found in other states, the South Carolina medical marijuana bill calls them “pharmacies” instead. This is because the sites would be required to have a pharmacist on the premises at all times, and the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy would oversee business regulations.

Those with felony drug convictions would be barred from participating in the industry for 10 years under the Compassionate Care Act. In an effort to prevent a multi-state operator takeover, the state would also give priority to in-state businesses when the time for licensing comes.

The initial rollout would approve 15 cannabis cultivators and 30 processing facilities. A cannabis pharmacy will be licensed for every 20 pharmacies in the state, and five testing labs and 4 transport licenses will be given out.

75% of tax revenue collected from South Carolina medical marijuana sales would go into the state’s general fund. An additional 10% would go to drug abuse treatment services, 5% to state law enforcement and the rest will be diverted to cannabis research and education.

A February poll found that voters approve of South Carolina medical marijuana by a five to one ratio. Rep. Davis said last year that if the legislature didn’t advance the reform, he’d propose a bill to put the question of medical marijuana legalization to voters through a referendum.

Mississippi medical marijuana legalized by Governor

Mississippi medical marijuana legalized by Governor

mississippi medical marijuana legalized

Mississippi is legalizing medical marijuana for people with debilitating conditions such as cancer, AIDS and sickle cell disease.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the legislation Wednesday and it became law immediately. It could be months before the first marijuana dispensaries open.

“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis,” Reeves wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working, with all the societal and family ills that that brings.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures says 36 states and four territories already allowed the medical use of cannabis. Mississippi becomes the 37th state.

“For all the people who are touched in some way by a loved one or someone they know who benefits from medical cannabis, this brings their quality of life back,” said Ken Newburger, executive director the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, a group that pushed for legalization.

A majority of Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in November 2020, and it would have allowed people to buy up to 5 ounces a month. The state Supreme Court invalidated it six months later by ruling that the state’s initiative process was outdated and the measure was not put properly on the ballot.

The state House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, passed the final version of Senate Bill 2095 last week.

The new law will allow patients to buy up to to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, up to six days a week. That is about 3 ounces per month. It sets taxes on production and sale of cannabis, and it specifies that plants must be grown indoors under controlled conditions.

New Jersey legal cannabis delays have cannabis growers worried

New Jersey legal cannabis delays have cannabis growers worried

New Jersey cannabis growers worried about delays

Like many of New Jersey’s residents who voted to legalize weed for adult consumers, the state’s largest growers say they’ve been eager for the market to open.

In fact, they say they’re bursting at the seams with marijuana — and now, they’re worried they’ll have to take drastic measures if things don’t speed up.

“I hate to say this, but we may have to start destroying product, and we may have to start potentially letting people go because part of the anticipation is you ramp up your staffing, as well,” said James Leventis, an executive for Verano New Jersey, which has a cultivation and processing facility in Readington Township and three stores in Elizabeth, Lawrence Township and Neptune.

“You’re hired for a job with the idea that this market will develop,” said Leventis, the company’s vice president of Compliance & Government Affairs. “I’m very concerned we will continue to see these delays. It’s looking very stark right now.”

Just like any other organic material, cannabis starts to decompose after time. Even after it’s properly stored, after six months weed can get stale, loose its aroma and potency. In worst-case scenarios, the pot can get moldy.

For months, Verano along with fellow New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association members have been pressuring the state to allow them to sell to the public. The strategy has increased over the last month.

So what’s the hold up?

In no uncertain terms, the state agency created to govern the nascent cannabis industry — the Cannabis Regulatory Commission — has said these same companies demanding to open have yet to comply with stipulations in the marijuana law.

“The law has been in place since Feb. 22, 2021,” said Jeff Brown, the CRC’s executive director at last week’s public meeting. “It has noted clearly that alternative treatment centers [like Verano] need three things: municipal approval, relevant necessary supply to be able to serve their patient base, and operational capacity to continue to serve and even expand access.”

Provisional cannabis licenses in California coming to an end

Provisional cannabis licenses in California coming to an end

provincial cannabis licenses in California news

Thousands of business have been put on a timeline as provisional cannabis licenses in California will be coming to and end in the future.

The end to a longstanding program in the state is going to make entry into the California legal cannabis industry much more difficult for newcomers. However the end to the temporary permit program will impact thousands of legal cannabis businesses across the state.

In fact, this change will impact the majority of California cannabis businesses.

Beginning June 30th, the options for entering the cannabis industry in California will become more limited. Potential newcomers will have two options:

  • Obtain an annual state license
  • Buy an existing licensed company

But obtaining an annual state license in California right now can take months or even years before a new business could begin operations, not to mention the costs of obtaining said license. Buying an existing cannabis company that is already licensed will be a much speedier process, though likely even more costly.

This could mean an increase in merger and acquisition activity in the state. While the end to the provisional cannabis licenses in California is meant to help existing cannabis businesses in the state, it may be too soon to say.

Of the 12,221 marijuana businesses that are currently licensed in California, only 3,378 currently hold annual state licenses. In other words, over 70% of legal cannabis businesses in California are operating with a provisional license.

Compared to annual licenses, provisional cannabis licenses in California have been much easier to obtain. Provisional licenses have acted as an extension of temporary permits that were issued following the passing of Proposition 64. These temporary licenses were originally intended to allow already licensed medical cannabis businesses in the state to sell cannabis recreationally while the state set up the regulated industry.

That was in 2018.

In 2022, the majority of the industry is still operating under provisional licenses for a variety of reasons. However most would likely argue that the costs of obtaining an annual license alone is reason enough.

As it stands, current provisional license holders don’t need to worry. However those looking to apply for a new provisional cannabis license in California will have their first deadline March 31, 2022. These will specifically be license applications for mixed light and indoor cultivation at or less than 22,000 square feet of contiguous premises and outdoor cultivation at or less than 20,000 square feet of contiguous premises.

June 30, 2022 is when the California Department of Cannabis Control is when these licenses must be issued. Starting July 1st, renewing a provisional cannabis license in California will become more difficult, requiring specific conditions. However local equity applicants and smaller cultivations will still be able to apply for provisional cannabis licenses in California through 2023.

January 1, 2026 is the last day that any provisional cannabis licenses can be in effect. In other words, all current provisional cannabis license holders — 70% of current businesses in California — have until this date to obtain an annual state license.

Four years may seem like ample time for the 8,843 provisional license holders in California to make the switch to an annual license. However since Proposition 64 passed, California has been plagued with suffocating bureaucracy, exorbitant fees and costs, strict regulations and other issues that already make it extremely difficult to operate for smaller operations.

The state has allocated $100 million to help the 17 cities and counties with the most marijuana companies to finish transitioning provisionally licensed companies into annual permits. However the annual licensing process is so involved, said attorney Ariana Van Alstine, that some companies have taken years to get theirs. Others are still waiting for their licenses, going back-and-forth with local or state regulators on getting theirs completed or both.

With a priority on transitioning existing provisional cannabis licenses in California, one must hope that the process will run smoothly. Ideally, every provisional license holder will be able to make the switch to an annual license before January 1, 2026.

However if California’s past is to act as any reference, one must also be extremely skeptical.

New Jersey to become only legal cannabis state to not permit home cultivation

New Jersey to become only legal cannabis state to not permit home cultivation

New jersey home growing will not be permitted with legalization

New Jersey state Senator Nick Scutari (D), the Senate President and a major proponent of cannabis legalization, said he doesn’t see the home cultivation of cannabis coming anytime soon.

New Jersians will not immediately be able to grow their own cannabis, neither for medical nor personal use purposes, the Asbury Park Press reports. During a webinar with cannabis industry professionals, state Sen. Nick Scutari (D), the main proponent of cannabis legalization in the state Senate and the new chamber president, said he does “not see” home cultivation “happening right now.”

“I’m not against marijuana being grown at home for medical purposes and maybe even just recreational purposes. But we’ve got to let this industry … it’s not even off the ground yet.” Scutari said during a press conference.

Currently, the price of medical cannabis in New Jersey runs about $412 to $420 per ounce, according to Curaleaf prices outlined by the Press.

Jo Anne Zito, a board member for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, said allowing patients to grow their own medicine would be “a tremendous help.”

“It doesn’t seem like the sky has fallen in these other places,” she told the Press. “Yeah, some of it may get to the illicit market but I don’t think it’s anything that’s hurting revenue or setting back legal sales.”

Of the 19 states that have legalized cannabis, New Jersey is the only one that does not allow medical patients to grow their own, the report says. Cultivating even one cannabis plant in the state is still punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine, despite the state’s legalization law.