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New York OCM behind on staffing essential cannabis positions

New York OCM behind on staffing essential cannabis positions

New York OCM cannabis staffing issues

With plans for equity license holders to open recreational cannabis dispensaries as early as fall of this year, New York is behind schedule on forming the needed agencies.

To start, the New York Office of Cannabis Management, the main agency overseeing the legal cannabis industry in New York, has yet to hire a Chief Equity Officer. This position would oversee the equity licensees that are slated to open their dispensaries at the end of this year.

Additionally, the 13-member advisory board meant to assist the OCM and the Cannabis Control Board has yet to be filled. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) specified in its legislation that these positions should have already been filled.

Despite the vacancies, the OCM is still committing to rolling out regulations and beginning adult-use cannabis sales this fall.

An OCM spokesman said that the agency is “hard at work” searching for a chief equity officer candidate and that they are “almost at the end of that process.” However there has been little updates on the advisory board which was supposed to start meeting in May.

Aside from issues with filling the various positions needed to begin developing and implementing regulations, there has also been some pushback from the state’s existing medical cannabis industry.

In an investigative piece conducted by Syracuse.com, patients have been experiencing long delays to enroll in the medical program. Many are unable to get the care they need.

Meanwhile, the OCM has had a slew of technology issues and has been ignoring patient concerns (according to the patients) while trying to catch up after a delayed start in establishing the recreational marketplace.

Last but certainly not least, the state has handed out nearly 150 conditional cannabis cultivation licenses to hemp farmers across the state, in an effort to produce recreational cannabis so that dispensaries could actually have product in the fall.

With more than half of those licensees being permitted in just the last month, it will be a tight timeline to harvest and process enough cannabis to meet the demand of what will likely become the largest cannabis industry in the country.

 

Original story from Greener Consulting Group

Thailand cannabis legalized for cultivation and trade

Thailand cannabis legalized for cultivation and trade

Thailand cannabis legalization

The government of Thailand has officially legalized cannabis cultivation and trade, along with removing cannabis from from its banned narcotics list.

However recreational use is still banned. Advocates say that the legalization acts more or less as decriminalization, so penalties should be less harsh, and less common.

Thailand is the first country in South-East Asia to legalize cannabis, going so far as to even give away one million cannabis seeds to citizens to encourage more people to start growing the plant.

“It is an opportunity for people and the state to earn income from marijuana and hemp,” said Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and health minister.

Charnvirakul even said that restaurants could serve dishes with cannabis included as long as the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content is less than .2% so consumers don’t get high. Starting today, households will be permitted to grow up to six plants if they register with authorities, and companies will be permitted to farm cannabis commercially with licensing.

Additionally, medical clinics across Thailand can more freely prescribe cannabis as a treatment. The country was also first in the region to legalize medical cannabis in 2018.

However despite the language of the law and the excitement around it, the “legalization” of cannabis in Thailand is more or less just the legalization of hemp. While hemp and cannabis are identical in structure and appearance, hemp is bred to contain less than .3% THC.

Since personal consumption recreationally is still banned, and public consumption can result in a fine or arrest, the only cannabis anybody is allowed to sell for profit will be hemp. But the country is still using the language of the new law to release some 4,000 prisoners whom were arrested on cannabis charges, including the psychoactive kind.

It appears that the current goal of the country is to take advantage of their new position and capture the untapped CBD market in Asia. CBD (Cannabidiol) is considered to be a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, otherwise known as a cannabinoid.

North Carolina Medical Cannabis Bill Passes Senate

North Carolina Medical Cannabis Bill Passes Senate

North Carolina medical cannabis legalization

A North Carolina medical cannabis bill was passed by the state Senate last week following its clearing of a key Senate committee just one day prior. The legislation passed the full chamber with a 35-10 vote.

Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Bill Rabon (R) is hopeful that the bill will help those seeking relief toward the end of their life.

“This bill is going to, in my opinion, help a lot of people at the end of their life at a time that they need some compassion,” Rabon said on the floor ahead of the vote.

Rabon is a cancer survivor himself. He believes that medical cannabis can help people “at a time that what few days, or what little time they have left, should be as comfortable and as easy as they can be.”

“I think it is our duty as lawmakers to pass legislation that helps people who need our help,” Rabon said.

However the medical cannabis bill is not in the clear yet. It still must pass through one final vote on the third reading of the bill. If it passes again it will then move on to the House of Representatives.

The NC Compassionate Care Act in its current state would enact a highly restricted medical cannabis program. Those that qualify for the program must have a condition such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and PTSD to be eligible.

Patients would be permitted to possess up to one and half ounces of cannabis, but home growing would not be allowed. Edibles or “cannabis-infused” products would be allowed in various forms, and smoking and vaping would be permitted.

However the consumption method must be prescribed by a doctor for specific delivery and dosages. Patient eligibility would be reconsidered on an annual basis.

The bill would permit just 10 medical cannabis suppliers who would control the cultivation and sale of cannabis. Each operator would be permitted four dispensaries for 40 total across the state.

Under the current revision, a Compassionate Use Advisory Board would be established. This board would have the ability to add more qualifying conditions for the program that could make access easier for more patients in the future.

Additionally a Medical Cannabis Production Commission would be created to ensure that supply does not run out for patients. The Commission would also oversee licensing and generate revenue to regulate the medical cannabis program.

Lastly the bill will provide protections for patients. Employees and agents of the state would be required to treat possession of cannabis for qualified patients the same as any other prescribed controlled substance.

There are still additional amendments under consideration that may impact the third reading of the bill. Over 80% of North Carolina voters support medical cannabis, with 60% supporting full recreational legalization.

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.