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Rhode Island cannabis legalization signed into law by governor

Rhode Island cannabis legalization signed into law by governor

Rhode Island cannabis legalization passed

Rhode Island has become the 19th state in the US to legalize cannabis for recreational use after Governor Dan McKee signed new legislation on Wednesday May 25.

Less than 24 hours after the state legislature unanimously passed the legalization bill, McKee signed it into law. The Rhode Island Cannabis Act would allow adults over 21 to buy, possess and grow their own cannabis at home.

Adults will be allowed to grow up to six plants, and cannabis purchases will be limited.

The law will also introduce expungements of past criminal records related to cannabis, depending on the severity of the charge. Taxes from legal cannabis sales will be re-invested into communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Rep. Scott Slater, whom drafted the revised legislation that was passed, said the bill won’t please everybody.

“Frankly, no bill could do that,” he said. “So in the many years it has taken to get this bill to this point, we have learned from other states that legalized cannabis, and we know that they too must address issues each year and modify the original statute to address new issues that occur. We will be no different.”

McKee appears to have full support for the legal cannabis industry and the equity it intends to implement.

“Today I signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, legalizing and safely regulating cannabis in our state. This bill successfully incorporates our priorities of making sure legalization is equitable, controlled, and safe.”

He continued, “The end result is a win for our state both socially and economically.

The Rhode Island Cannabis Act calls for retail cannabis sales to begin December 1st of this year, however it is unlikely that any retail cannabis stores will be licensed and open by that time. Additionally, unless growers are licensed and permitted to produce cannabis for retail in the next couple of month, it is unlikely there will be any product to put on shelves should stores open in December.

Governor Vetoes Delaware Cannabis Legalization Bill

Governor Vetoes Delaware Cannabis Legalization Bill

Delaware cannabis legalization vetoed by governor

Delaware Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday that he would veto the state Legislature’s historic passage of a bill fully decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Cannabis possession of small amounts has been partly decriminalized in the state since 2015, when the state legislature made possession a civil infraction with a $100 fine. House Bill 371 would go further by removing “all penalties for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana, except for those who are under 21 years of age,” as well as eliminating penalties for people over 21 who transfer one ounce or less of marijuana “without remuneration.”

While Carney said that he supports medical cannabis and decriminalization, but claimed “long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns” as his reason for not approving the measure.

Legislators who fought for the bill’s passage are dismayed by the veto. Rep. Ed Osienski (D–Newark) said in a statement that he is “deeply disappointed” with the outcome, “especially since [Carney] could have allowed the bill to become law without his signature, which would have preserved both his personal opposition and the will of the residents and legislators.”

Osienski also said that preventing legalization is not going to stop people from seeking out cannabis illicitly. They will just be punished for it.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D–R.I.) framed Carney’s veto as a stand against Big Tobacco, saying “[t]oday is a win for public health, the citizens of Delaware, and common sense. Political leaders in Delaware have a rich history of standing up to Big Tobacco and marijuana is simply Big Tobacco’s new marketing strategy.”

H.B. 371 was introduced by Osienski in March. It passed in the Delaware House and Senate earlier this month. It was introduced alongside H.B. 372, which would have set up a tax-and-regulate system with licenses for sellers and growers. However, the latter bill was defeated this week by just two votes. If H.B. 371 were to become law without H.B. 372, it’s conceivable that Delaware could develop a “gifting” retail economy similar to the one used in Washington, D.C.

Delaware cannabis law passes Legislature, waits on Governor

Delaware cannabis law passes Legislature, waits on Governor

Delaware cannabis bill headed to governors desk

A bill that would allow personal possession of cannabis for adult-use in Delaware has passed through the legislature. However the state’s governor has already said he does not support cannabis legalization.

Delaware’s Senate gave final approval to the bill legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults for recreational use in the second week of May. The legislation cleared the Senate 13-7 with the vote holding on party lines.

Sen. Bruce Ennis of Smyrna, a retired state trooper, was the only Democrat joining Republicans in opposing the bill. The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House on a 26-14 vote the week before.

Now the bill heads to the desk of Governor John Carney (D) who has expressed his opposition to legal cannabis in the past.

However he hasn’t spoken specifically on whether he would sign a legalization bill that made it to his desk.

“We’ll review the bill, but the governor’s position hasn’t changed,” Carney spokeswoman Emily David said after the vote.

Delaware cannabis laws currently impose a $100 fine for possession of an ounce or less if the user is 21 or older. The new legislation, if passed, would remove this provision.

Anyone under the age of 21 would still receive a civil penalty for possession, and public consumption and possession of more than one ounce would remain a misdemeanor. While the new bill would legalize possession, consumers would not be allowed to directly sell cannabis to other consumers.

However consumers will be allowed to “transfer” cannabis products between each other legally. Without a regulated industry to go along with it, this bill’s passing would likely lead to a gift/donation industry similar to Washington DC.

Cannabis was legalized in DC in 2015, however legislative barriers prevent a regulated industry from being established. There is now a thriving grey market that operates through a gifting and donating loophole in the law.

A separate bill to establish and regulate a recreational cannabis has also passed through two House committees and is awaiting consideration by the full chamber. Sen. Trey Paradee, the chief sponsor of the bill, has said that he would want his bill which already passed through the legislature to be vetoed should the partner legislation for a regulated industry not make it through as well.

Whether the governor will wait for the partner legislation to pass before deciding on the initial bill or not is yet to be seen. However without a legal industry framework to support it, in addition to the governor’s voiced opposition to legal cannabis, the odds of either bill passing in the near future seem unlikely.

Connecticut cannabis retail license applications surpass 15,000

Connecticut cannabis retail license applications surpass 15,000

Connecticut cannabis retail license applications

Over 15,000 thousand people submitted applications for Connecticut cannabis cultivation licenses before the deadline this week. However the state is only handing out about a dozen licenses to start.

The state reported on Friday that they received over 8,000 applications just for the six social equity licenses they will be handing out. Additionally the state received another 7,000 applications for the general lottery.

The general lottery pool will reward adult-use Connecticut cannabis retail licenses.

The first lottery for social equity applicants seeking Connecticut cannabis retail licenses is expected to happen this week. After being chosen, the applicants will still need to be reviewed for eligibility before the general lottery can proceed.

There was no limit placed on how many applications one person could submit, making it likely that multiple applications were submitted on behalf of one individual. The large number of applications for so few licenses could be explained in part by this factor.

An additional 1,800 applications were submitted for micro-cultivator licenses. This license allows a licensee to grow in spaces between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet (3,048 meters). Other Connecticut cannabis retail licenses will be available to sell medical marijuana, operate delivery services, make cannabis infused food and beverages and other cannabis products, as well as package and transport products.

Connecticut legalized adult-use cannabis last July. The law allows residents over the age of 21 to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, or up to 5 ounces locked at home or in a vehicle’s glove box or trunk.

But retail recreational cannabis stores are not expected to begin operating in the state until late this year at the earliest.

Is the FDA cracking down on Delta 8 THC?

Is the FDA cracking down on Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC gummies under scrutiny from FDA

The FDA recently issued warning letters to several companies for selling Delta 8 THC gummies and other Delta 8 THC products. Is a crackdown coming?

On May 4 of this year, the FDA issued five warning letters to Delta 8 THC retailers. It is not uncommon for the FDA to send warning letters to companies that could be making false medical claims about their products.

But this is the first time the FDA gas written warning letters specifically to Delta 8 THC companies.

The FDA has also released a consumer advisory warning on their official website regarding Delta 8 THC gummies and other Delta 8 THC products. In other words, D8 has been on the FDA’s radar for some time.

It is possible that more scrutiny could be coming down on the Delta 8 THC industry, which is mostly unregulated at the moment.

The FDA is approaching Delta 8 similarly to how they deal with CBD and other hemp products. The Farm Bill passed in 2018 legalized “industrial hemp” on the federal level. Under the ruling any cannabis plant that has lower than .3% THC on a dry weight basis is legal to possess, grow and sell across state lines.

The Farm Bill is responsible for the rapid expansion of the CBD industry, and D8 is a product made from CBD in most cases.

This association implies that Delta 8 THC should be legal as it comes from the hemp plant and CBD, both of which are legal. Despite the size of the CBD industry, it still lacks proper oversight from the FDA. What the FDA will do is devote a limited amount of agency resources to enforce against companies making medical claims about their products.

Legally, a CBD company can’t put any sort of medical benefits on the label or marketing for their products. This is because the FDA doesn’t recognize CBD as a medical supplement. They don’t recognize D8 either.

Delta 8 THC FDA Warning Letters

The five letter issued by the FDA went specifically to companies that were making “misleading claims” about medicinal benefits in D8 products. In their letters to the companies the FDA included the claims that were made. Here are a few examples:

  • “Delta-8 consumers report many of the same effects as THC, such as . . . relief from some symptoms such as pain . . .. Delta-8 can also help with insomnia.”
  • “Delta-8 THC Syrup from Kingdom Harvest is ideal for anybody experiencing a sleeping disorder or other ailments looking to be relieved.”
  • “If you have cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and migraines, Delta-8 THC can help alleviate the pain because it has immunosuppressant properties.”

According to the FDA, the presence of drug claims on the products technically classifies them as unapproved new drugs. Under the FDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), new drugs may not be introduced into interstate commerce without being approved by the FDA. Because the products were not approved, they are technically illegal under the FDCA.

So does this mean that D8 gummies are going away any time soon? Unlikely.

Misleading branding

Misleading branding is nothing new to the cannabis industry. The illicit market is flooded with knockoff D8 products that are imitating popular brands like Doritos, or making Delta 8 THC gummies that look like Haribo gummy bears. Because the market isn’t regulated, there is very little oversight to keep these products off the market.

While some big companies like Skittles have fought back against their likeness being used in Delta 8 THC products, most don’t even know that their likeness is being used. When a customer sees a name-brand logo on a pack of Delta 8 THC gummies, unsurprisingly they are more likely to think it is a legitimate product.

Additionally, no D8 products are approved by the FDA as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Due to this Delta 8 is not approved for use in human or animal products because the required safety data is lacking.

Because the ingredient in the products is not approved, any D8 product is technically “adulterated”, and cannot be sold over state lines. However anybody who has looked up Delta 8 THC gummies online was still probably able to have them shipped from a different state.

While it appears the FDA is beginning to look at D8 more closely, there is still no determining evaluation by the FDA deciding its true legality. Delta 8 THC may be a legal byproduct of industrial hemp, but adding it into food items and supplements is where the lines get blurry.

For this reason, one should always be extremely weary of any D8 product that makes a medical claim or markets the product to have specific benefits. There is no way to verify their claims, and they could be completely false.

The FDA is still devoting very limited resourced to enforcing rules against Delta 8 THC retailers. They have only sent out five letters, when there are thousands of Delta 8 THC gummies and other products being sold online across the country daily.

The longer it takes the FDA to reign in CBD and D8, the more out of control the market could become, making it too large to reign back in and increasing risk for consumers.

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting could be banned

The underground Connecticut cannabis gifting community could be in for some trouble is legislators in the state get their way.

In a 98-48 vote, the Connecticut House of Representatives pushed forward legislation that would fine anybody who host a cannabis gifting event up to thousands of dollars. During the session, others argued that legalizing cannabis in Connecticut at all was a mistake that should be reverted.

Suffice to say there is disagreement in the legislature about the future of the industry in Connecticut, and it is going to have an impact on the industry there.

As it currently stands, cannabis is legal to possess for adults in Connecticut. However recreational cultivation for personal use won’t be an option until July 2023, and there is no regulated industry to speak of in the state.

In other words, cannabis is legal. It just can’t be grown recreationally or bought anywhere unless you’re a licensed medical cannabis patient. This has predictably created an underground market for those looking to obtain cannabis for personal consumption without a medical card.

What is cannabis gifting?

Cannabis gifting is by no means a new practice. It also isn’t exclusive to just Connecticut.

For example Washington D.C. legalized cannabis in 2015, but still doesn’t have a regulated industry due to barriers put in place by politicians during the legislative process. Now there is a thriving cannabis gifting industry in DC, with small shops tucked away across the city. There you can pay $45 for a sticker and receive an eighth of cannabis as a “gift”.

The donation/gifting method acts as a loophole under most cannabis laws that prohibit the illicit sale of cannabis outside of a licenses retailer. By gifting cannabis instead, it technically isn’t being sold and can’t be prosecuted.

It isn’t difficult to see why politicians would not be in favor of such a practice.

But with the current laws and delays in Connecticut, it was inevitable.

Some legislators are shaping the new bill not as a total restriction on cannabis gifting, but just organized events according to Democrat Rep. Michael D’Agostino.

“For right now, these bazaars are a way around the regulated marketplace,” D’Agostino said. As co-chairman of the legislative General Law Committee, he stressed that the bill would not prohibit true gifting events in which friends or acquaintances exchange or give each other cannabis without commercial transactions.

The legislation was originally proposed in response to events like the High Bazaar. There more than 1,000 visitors paid $20 or so to enter a warehouse in an industrial zone, where dozens of vendor tables would display cannabis in various forms, exchanging cash or other items of value for cannabis products.

Under the bill, those who sponsor these large gifting parties could be fined $1,000 by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and as much as $1,000 by local officials. The legislation isn’t entirely bad however.

The legislation also includes provisions to end the annual fees required of patients in the medical-marijuana program, saving patients about $5 million a year starting July 1, 2023. It would also permit physicians to write medical cannabis prescriptions, which would save patients more money and time.

The law also includes provisions strictly limited billboard advertising for cannabis companies, and completely bans it for out of state brands. Lastly, current cannabis cultivators would be allowed to undertake two more joint ventures, and towns and cities that are willing to host cannabis businesses, can now decide which businesses and how many could locate to their area.

Overall the legislation would appear to have more good than bad, with the main negative being the impacts on large cannabis gifting events. Small gathering of friends gifting each other cannabis products will still be allowed without repercussion. Medical cannabis patients will have quicker and more affordable access to their medicine, and in-state retailers will no longer have to worry about out of state competition.