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NY Gov. Hochul signs conditional cannabis cultivation bill

NY Gov. Hochul signs conditional cannabis cultivation bill

New York passes conditional cannabis cultivation licenses

With this legislation, NY is creating a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license, allowing hemp farmers to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new legislation on Tuesday that will allow hemp farmers in the state to apply for a conditional license to grow cannabis.

With this legislation, New York is creating a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license, allowing hemp farmers to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season. Conditionally licensed cannabis farmers must hit certain requirements under this law.

According to the governor’s office, some of the requirements include, “safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly cultivation practices, participation in a social equity mentorship program, and engagement in a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.”

“I am proud to sign this bill, which positions New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building,” Hochul said. “New York State will continue to lead the way in delivering on our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to every New Yorker in every corner of our great state.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes added, “Last year, after many years of fighting, we finally enacted the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, and are beginning to undo the devastating impacts over 90 years of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition had on too many lives and communities. MRTA ensures that the legal adult-use market will be centered on equity and economic justice for communities of color and individuals that have been harmed most by the War on Drugs in the State of New York. With the passage of this bill, we have the opportunity to create a responsible start to the adult-use cannabis industry by authorizing temporary conditional cultivator and processor licenses to current New York hemp farmers. This authority will help secure enough safe, regulated, and environmentally conscious cannabis products to meet the demand of the adult-use cannabis market when retail dispensaries open. Importantly, this legislation calls for a Social Equity Mentorship Program, which will create a viable and inclusive path for social and economic equity partners interested in cannabis cultivation and processing to gain invaluable knowledge and experience in this emerging industry. The temporary conditional licenses authorized by this bill will ultimately help realize the vision and goals of the MRTA.”

Missouri Cannabis Legalization Bill Introduced

Missouri Cannabis Legalization Bill Introduced

Missouri cannabis legalization bill introduced

Missouri is trying to introduce legal cannabis. It remains to be seen if it will pass or remain unattainable for the state.

A Missouri lawmaker introduced a comprehensive bill to legalize recreational cannabis on Tuesday. The measure, titled the Cannabis Freedom Act (HB 2704), was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives by Representative Ron Hicks, a Republican from St. Charles.

If passed, the bill would legalize cannabis for adult-use, regulate recreational cannabis commerce and expunge convictions for past cannabis-related offenses. In a statement, Hicks acknowledged the assistance from interested parties and an Oklahoma colleague in drafting the legislation.

“The Cannabis Freedom Act is the product of input from many different stakeholders including members of law enforcement and those who have endured incarceration for conduct that society now deems acceptable,” Hicks said. “I am particularly grateful for input from Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter for his assistance in creating a free market program that is also strictly regulated.”

Missouri Cannabis Legalization Bill Permits Possession and Sale

Under the bill, adults 21 and older would be permitted to purchase and use recreational cannabis. Adults would be also be allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home for personal use.

The bill tasks the Missouri Department of Agriculture with regulating the recreational cannabis program. The department would draft the rules for the program and issue licenses for cannabis producers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, without caps on the number of licenses that could be issued to qualified cannabis businesses.

The Cannabis Freedom Act directs the state Department of Revenue to set a tax of up to 12 percent on recreational cannabis products. Medical cannabis purchases by registered patients would not be subject to the retail tax. Revenue raised by marijuana taxes would be used to administer the recreational cannabis program, with the remainder divided equally among the Missouri Veterans Commission and funding for teachers’ salaries and pensions for first responders.

No limit on New Mexico cannabis licenses leads to hundreds of applications

No limit on New Mexico cannabis licenses leads to hundreds of applications

New Mexico cannabis licenses are being applied for by the hundreds

You’re starting to see them pop up across New Mexico and they can’t even open yet.

More than a hundred applications are in — some already approved — to turn established medical marijuana shops, smoke shops, an old strip club and plenty of other closed businesses into recreational cannabis shops.

The Cannabis Control Division received the first retail applications on Monday, December 6, 2021.  Entrepreneurs can open their doors on April 1, 2022, with an approved license.

“There’s no limit to the amount of licenses that can be issued as long as they’re able to meet the law in the Cannabis Regulation Act and the rules and requirements set forth by the Division and the Department,” explained Victor Reyes, Deputy Superintendent of the Regulation & Licensing Department.

No limit means the Cannabis Control Division can approve countless retail licenses and New Mexicans could theoretically see pot shops on every street across the state. “We have so much interest in our in, in folks who are applying to be part of this industry,” Reyes said. “And that’s because it’s an industry like none other.”

Going off the state’s website, KRQE plotted every address in Albuquerque where retail license applicants are hoping to open a shop come April 1. So far, there are more than 80 of them.

While a lot of people see the new industry as a positive for New Mexico, not everyone wants it moving in next door. “I’m not really for the recreational,” Laurel Kehoe said. And, she has her reasons. Her family’s optical clinic butts up to a shopping center on Montgomery that used to house a medical marijuana shop. She said it had its problem.

“They kept getting broken into,” Kehoe explained. “They also got held at gunpoint.” That prompted the Kehoes to take extra security measures for their employees and patients. She said they are always armed and even installed a gate around the perimeter.

The shop closed a while back, but now there’s an application in to turn the vacant business into a recreational cannabis shop. Kehoe said they’re “not thrilled,” but she’s aware they don’t have a choice. “We have no control over what’s going to go in next to us,” she commented.

The Cannabis Regulation Act gives every local government the discretion to choose where a pot shop can be located. Specific to Albuquerque, recreational cannabis can’t be sold within 300 feet of a school or daycare and shops have to be 600 feet apart from each other.

“We don’t want concentrations of certain businesses in certain places,” Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton said. He explained the City has that rule for liquor stores too. But looking through applications, KRQE found several addresses close together which may violate that rule. Benton just introduced a resolution to Council clarifying that the first applicant gets dibs.

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.

Connecticut cannabis business applications now open

Connecticut’s first application window for businesses aiming to participate in the recreational cannabis market opened Thursday.

An educational webinar for businesses, the first of several planned as part of technical assistance aimed at helping social equity applicants, also streamed Thursday.

Non-lottery applications for cultivators in disproportionately impacted areas and lottery applications for recreational retailers are available.

Medical producers and dispensaries will also be allowed to convert to expanded licenses that allow them to participate in the medical and recreational markets. Applications for expanded producers and hybrid retailers are open.

Equity joint venture applications are also open. Equity joint ventures allow business entities to partner with applicants who meet certain social equity criteria.

Social equity status is determined by income and residency. The Social Equity Council, which is organizing technical assistance to aid businesses through the application process, is charged with ensuring the market benefits those who have been most impacted by the war on drugs.

All members of a household, regardless of relationship, will need to submit information on income for social equity applicants to meet the criteria, said Ginne-Rae Clay, interim director for the council.

This includes roommates, Clay said.

Half of all lottery licenses will go to social equity applicants. Application windows for more license types are set to open on a rolling basis over the next couple of months.

The state anticipates another lottery round in the second half of the year. Businesses that wish to participate will have to reapply for that round if they’re not selected in the first round, according to a state Department of Consumer Protection press release.