Legal gray area leaves potential Missouri cannabis growers in limbo

Legal gray area leaves potential Missouri cannabis growers in limbo

Missouri cannabis growers

NORTH MISSISSIPPI (WMC) – It’s been well over a month since the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law. However, potential cannabis growers in Mississippi are hesitant on how to proceed in growing their product.

Ambiguity in the signed legislation doesn’t specify if greenhouses are considered indoor or outdoor grow.

The difference is outdoor grow is strictly prohibited under the law.

“We fought so hard for these last two years, over two years, to get something passed,” said Zack Wilson with We are the 74. “Here we are, we have something passed, and now it’s another set of hurdles.”

Wilson, a resident of Byhalia, has been planning on building greenhouses for months, already setting up the framework for one on his property.

He’s put a pause on that after seeing greenhouses are not officially defined in the law.

You don’t have to look far in the 445-page bill.

On page 2, the bill reads “Cannabis cultivation facility” means a business entity licensed and registered by the Mississippi Department of Health that acquires, grows, cultivates and harvests medical cannabis in an indoor, enclosed, locked and secure area.

Wilson said in his conversations with his local legislators, the feeling is greenhouses do not offer the same level of security as a brick and mortar structure.

Wilson disagrees.

“A greenhouse is totally enclosed, so as far as I’m concerned that is indoor,” Wilson said. “Locked? There are doors. There’s a lock on it, just like any other building. A secure area? That means we put it inside a fence. Myself, personally, I’m in the middle of 200 acres. If somebody were to find my stuff, they would have to fly over it to find it.”

“It leaves everybody in limbo that’s actually going to do a greenhouse grow,” said Todd Franklin, owner of Franklin Farms.

Franklin built two greenhouses, 3,000 sq. ft. and 1,800 sq. ft. in 2021 before the original Initiative 65, the cannabis program Mississippians voted on in the 2020 elections, was overturned by the state Supreme Court.

He was ready to build more but has also paused construction due to the uncertainty of if greenhouses would be considered indoor grow.

“If you call the department of health, they tell you to go to their website. You click on their website and there’s nothing there,” Franklin said.

In our attempts to find some clarity from the Mississippi Department of Health, asking if greenhouses are considered indoor or outdoor grow, we were told the department doesn’t have an answer for us at this time.

“It is important to remember that beyond determining what is indoor growing – the same indoor security measures would apply. While the program is in development, I encourage you to visit or website and read the bill for answers,” an MSDH spokesperson said.

“Greenhouses are pretty much the industry standard. Why would we want to pull more from our power grid when we have mother nature above us,” Wilson said, gesturing up to the sun.

Both Wilson and Franklin said they would have 24/7 security systems on their properties once growing began.

Franklin doesn’t want to be caught behind the curve.

Connecticut tries to crack down on cannabis gifting

Connecticut tries to crack down on cannabis gifting

cannabis gifting to be banned in Connecticut

Hundreds of shoppers filtered through rows of vendors selling novelty art and clothing earlier this year at High Bazaar, a Hamden festival where a “gift” of a marijuana product often accompanied the items they purchased.

But the High Bazaar parties are on hold for now, after the town of Hamden claimed permitting violations. And while a hearing in that civil case is scheduled for later this week, the state legislature is considering a bill that would outlaw such “gifting.”

House Bill 5329 would impose up to a $10,000 fine and a year of jail time on violators. Supporters of the legislation said it would help keep sales in the market regulated, although some hemp and cannabis advocates were wary that it would re-criminalize marijuana.

The bill also includes provisions to cap the number of equity joint ventures for producers and to outlaw billboard advertising. Equity joint ventures allow partnerships between social equity applicants and other cannabis businesses.

“We appreciate that gifting will go on between people in the privacy of their homes,” said Rep. Mike D’Agostino, a Democrat who represents Hamden. “An event that’s organized, that rents space and is really a market just violates the entire intent of the statute that we put in place last year.”

D’Agostino chairs the General Law Committee, which heard public comments on the bill Tuesday.

Cannabis gifting is a practice that’s been used in Washington, D.C., where recreational marijuana sales aren’t allowed but possession of less than 2 ounces has been decriminalized. Vendors sell consumers a product such as a T-shirt, and a cannabis product is included as a gift.

Republicans aim to restrict Oklahoma medical marijuana industry

Republicans aim to restrict Oklahoma medical marijuana industry

Oklahoma medical marijuana industry would be restricted under new legislation

Republicans in the Oklahoma House are unveiling a package of new restrictions on the medical marijuana industry.

The 12-point plan includes a standardization of lab testing and equipment, more inspections of grow facilities, separate licenses for marijuana wholesalers and stringent new reporting requirements for electric and water usage by growers. One proposal would also make the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority a stand-alone agency, not a division of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

“If you’re an illegal operator in Oklahoma, you’re time is up,” said Rep. Scott Fetgatter, an Okmulgee Republican and a member of the House Republican working group on medical marijuana.

The marijuana industry has been booming in Oklahoma since voters in 2018 approved one of the most liberal medical programs in the nation. It’s easy for patients to obtain a two-year medical license, and nearly 10% of the state’s population is now authorized to buy and use marijuana. Unlike other states, there also are no restrictions on the number of dispensary or grow licenses, and the low cost for entry into the industry has led to a flood of out-of-state pot entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the boom.

Biden Admin warns applicants about investing in cannabis stocks

Biden Admin warns applicants about investing in cannabis stocks

Biden admin cannabis stocks

Smoking weed may no longer be the only potential impediment to getting a job with security clearance in the Biden administration. Investing in cannabis companies could now trip up applicants, too.

The Biden administration has expanded its employee conduct guidelines to potentially deny security clearance to individuals who have invested in companies that are involved in the marijuana business, according to an internal executive branch presentation shared with POLITICO.

“Eligibility may be negatively impacted if an individual knowingly and directly invests in stocks or business ventures that specifically pertain to marijuana growers and retailers,” according to the document. “Decisions to willfully invest in such activity could reflect questionable judgment and an unwillingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations.”

The recently updated guidance is the latest illustration of the federal government trying to grapple with its cannabis-related HR policies as the product has become an accepted legal business, medication and recreational substance in states across the country. All told, 37 states, the District of Columbia and some territories have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use.

The White House has adopted a more forgiving posture than its predecessors. Early on in his tenure, President Joe Biden issued a memo that stated prior marijuana use would not automatically disqualify applicants — the most lenient policy of any administration since before President Ronald Reagan.

But he hasn’t been altogether forgiving. Last year, the White House did fire some employees and rescinded employment offers due to prior marijuana use in the early days of the administration. According to the internal presentation, the White House has not changed its position, despite calls from House Democrats to do so.

Oklahoma seed-to-sales tracking moves forward in Oklahoma

Oklahoma seed-to-sales tracking moves forward in Oklahoma

Oklahoma seed-to-sale injunction is lifted for medical marijuana

Oklahoma’s medical marijuana seed-to-sale system can move forward following a partial resolution.

An agreement between the medical marijuana commercial licensees who filed the lawsuit and co-defendants Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and Metrc enabled the seed-to-sale system to proceed.

An Agreed Order was filed Friday, lifting the restraining order that prevented OMMA from implementing the seed-to-sale tracking and tagging system for the medical marijuana industry. Metrc is OMMA’s contractor for the program.

“Lifting this injunction clears the single biggest roadblock to OMMA enforcing the law,” said OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry. “This is a crucial step toward cracking down on licensees operating illegally or skirting the system within Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry. Come May 27th, we will focus the bulk of our enforcement authority on businesses that are not Metrc-compliant.”

Viridian Legal Services obtained the restraining order last April as a continuation in the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of over 10,000 state licensed cannabis businesses across Oklahoma.

Ronald Durbin, the attorney who represented the thousands of cannabis businesses, previously told KFOR that implementing Metrc would create a monopoly and that the company would earn over $12 million in just the first year.

Now that the seed-to-sale system can move forward, medical marijuana commercial licensees throughout the state have until Thursday, May 26 (90 days) to comply with the Metrc seed-to-sale tracking system.

Tennessee Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

Tennessee Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced

Tennessee medical marijuana bill would legalize medical cannabis

A bill introduced to the Tennessee General Assembly in early February that would legalize medical marijuana in the state has moved into the Senate Judiciary Committee for discussion. SB 2477 and HB 2458 were introduced by Reps. Janice Bowling (R) and Iris Rudder (R) respectively.

These bills together establish the framework for a regulated Tennessee medical cannabis industry. Patients with qualifying conditions would be able to purchase cannabis products from licensed retailers. Licensing and regulations for cultivation, production, distribution, transport, selling, and acquiring cannabis for medical use and research will be created.

Tennessee medical marijuana cards will be available to patients and caregivers. Patients and caregivers must be 18 years or older to obtain a medical marijuana card. However a caregiver may not use medical marijuana without having a qualifying condition themself. A Tennessee medical marijuana card will be valid for two years, with an option for renewal.

The bill requires a patient registry to be established by June 1, 2023. This includes application forms and procedures for obtaining patient and caregiver medical marijuana cards, and an integrated, electronic system for tracking the application process and the status of medical marijuana cards.The commission must ensure that a process is available for healthcare providers to electronically report a qualifying diagnosis as part of the patient medical cannabis card registry process by September 30, 2022.

This Tennessee medical marijuana bill will create the Tennessee medical cannabis commission, which will have 12 members. The Governor, Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House must make their initial appointments to the commission by August 30, 2022. However each member of the commission must meet specific, individual requirements which are as follows:

(1) One person with professional experience in industrial or agricultural systems management, including commodities, manufacturing, or distribution in a regulated industry;

(2) One person with professional experience in legal or social justice issues related to a regulated industry;

(3) One person with professional experience in public health, mental health, substance use, toxicology, biochemistry, or medical research and

(4) One person with professional experience in the field of law enforcement and peace officer standards (POST) certification;

(5) One person with experience in multiple crop development and agricultural practices;

(6) One person with experience in complex agriculture, health, science, business, or government systems;

(7) One person who is a licensed pharmacist; and

(8) One person with professional experience in the field of law enforcement and POST certification;

(9) One person with experience in public or rural land use management;

(10) One person who is a physician licensed to practice in this state;

(11) One person who is licensed to practice law in this state; and

(12) One person with professional experience in agricultural lending or banking or with state-chartered banks or credit unions.

Each member of the commission will receive $700 for each meeting of the commission that the member attends and will be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in connection with their official duties.

The bill also specifies that the state will regulate medical marijuana from seed to sale to use and reasonably regulate and control all aspects of industry. Any county or municipality seeking to ban the cultivation, processing, manufacture, or sale of medical cannabis may do so by a two-thirds vote of the local legislative body. This must be done by April 1, 2023.

Tennessee medical marijuana law will impose a 9% tax rate on retail medical marijuana sales, with an additional 2.1% maximum permitted from counties or municipalities. The bill also includes a 10% excise tax applied to net earnings.

Tax collected from the retail sale of Tennessee medical marijuana will be apportioned and allocated in the following manner:

(1) Five percent to the POST commission for opioid and methamphetamine drug enforcement training purposes;

(2) 25 percent to the department of agriculture for programs and grants administered by the department that facilitate agricultural development in this state, including, but not limited to, the agriculture enterprise fund and the Tennessee agricultural enhancement program;

(3) 20 percent to the department of economic and community development for community and rural development program grants administered by the department;

(4) 45 percent to the medical cannabis fund; and

(5) Five percent to the department of veteran’s services for programs administered by the department that provide treatment for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lastly, the bill will license medical cannabis cultivation operations which will be able to sell and distribute cannabis products to retail dispensaries. The bill currently does not include any cap on how many licenses may be given out for cultivations.

The bill will allow the following medical conditions to quality for Tennessee medical marijuana: cancer; glaucoma; epilepsy; HIV/AIDS; Crohn’s disease; muscular sclerosis; opioid addiction; renal failure; severe nausea or chronic pain and many more. The commission may, by rule, add other qualifying conditions at any point.

Read the full text of the bill here.