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Pennsylvania Cannabis Banking Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

Pennsylvania Cannabis Banking Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

Pennsylvania cannabis banking bill

A Pennsylvania cannabis banking bill that would protect state banking and financial institutions from prosecution is on its way to Governor Tom Wolfe’s desk after passing the House last week.

The legislation is nearly identical to a standalone bill that passed through the legislature earlier this session. The new measure passed with a 173-27 vote.

Sen. John DiSanto (R), the chief sponsor of the bill, had initially introduced the measure as a standalone piece of legislation. But after passing the Senate earlier this year and clearing the House committee, DiSanto filed it as an amendment to the already-passed HB 311. That bill deals with authorizing certain financial institutions to conduct savings promotion programs.

The amendment won’t give financial institutions complete immunity however, as it only applies on the state level. As cannabis is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance according to the federal government, banks and financial institutions can still be prosecuted for working with legal cannabis businesses, even if they are operating in a legal state.

However the amendment represents a step in the right direction for an industry that has been plagued with financial burdens due to federal laws. The fed has been stalling the passage of the SAFE Banking Act which would give federal banks protection in dealing with legal cannabis businesses.

The federal government isn’t necessarily cracking down on any banks doing business with legal cannabis businesses currently. But the implication that they could be punished has prevented almost every federal financial institution from working with legal cannabis businesses.

Now state institutions at least will not have to worry about being prosecuted on the state level. With the federal government more or less looking the other way in regards to state legal cannabis industry operations, more banks and financial institutions can feel safer in working with cannabis businesses.

The text of the amendment officially states that a “financial institution authorized to engage in business in this Commonwealth may provide financial services to or for the benefit of a legitimate cannabis-related business and the business associates of a legitimate cannabis-related business.”

The same protections will also be afforded to insurers. However the amendment also specifies that banks or insurers will not be required to provide services to legal cannabis businesses.

Further, the legislation says the state government cannot “prohibit, penalize or otherwise discourage a financial institution or insurer from providing financial or insurance services to a legitimate cannabis-related business or the business associates of a legitimate cannabis-related business.”

Agencies will be prohibited from “recommending, incentivizing or encouraging a financial institution or insurer” to not provide services just because a business is associated with cannabis.

Banking has been the largest issue impacting legal cannabis industries across the country since Colorado first legalized in 2012. With lack of access to federal banking, and few state institutions willing to take the risk, cannabis business owners are at the whim of whatever institution will take them.

This typically results in higher than average interest rates, stricter monitoring of account activity and even account removal without notice. Credit Unions and smaller local banks will even impose exorbitant deposit fees since they know cannabis businesses will deposit larger amounts of cash compared to other businesses.

Additionally as most credit card companies operate in cooperation with federal institutions, the majority of cannabis businesses are cash only. Robbery and theft is extremely common in the cannabis industry as businesses owners must carry bags of cash sometimes containing hundreds of thousands of dollars since they can’t accept credit from customers.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act that has passed the House in some form six times at this point, only to stall in the Senate. It is currently the only federal bill focused on solving the banking issues plaguing the legal cannabis industry.

Mississippi medical cannabis industry to launch July 1

Mississippi medical cannabis industry to launch July 1

Mississippi medical cannabis legalization

After months of lengthy legal battles, legislation effectively legalizing cannabis for medicinal use in Mississippi will become law on July 1, 2022. The Mississippi Department of Revenue will be running the licensing process.

The agency has said that it will begin accepting applications for dispensaries starting July 5. Patients and medical practitioners will be able to begin applying for applications and registrations on July 1, along with some cannabis production licenses. These licenses specifically will be handled by the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDOH).

Both agencies’ responsibilities stem from the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (MMCA), which was passed in February of this year. Medical cannabis legalization was delayed by nearly a year in the state after a voter initiative to legalize, Initiative 65, was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court in May of 2021.

Now patients with conditions covered under the MMCA can go to their physician and complete a medical certification from the MSDOH. If approved, patients will be able to apply to join the medical cannabis program. Once accepted they will receive patient ID they can use to purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

While patients may be accepted as early as next month, plants won’t go in the ground in Mississippi until the bill is officially law, i.e. July 1. With dispensary applications being accepted starting July 5, it will certainly be several months before we see any dispensaries open with cannabis product on their shelves.

Estimates claim that purchasing could begin by December this year, or January 2023.

For those seeking a license, the state plans to hand them out within 30 days of receiving a completed application, meaning dispensary construction could begin within the next two months. The state is also accepting applications for a variety of other medical cannabis industry licenses:

  • Cultivator/Grower

  • Processor/Wholesaler

  • Transporter (local freight)

  • Transporter (long distance)

  • Testing Facility

  • Waste Disposal

Cannabis industry could be worth over $90 billion by 2026

Cannabis industry could be worth over $90 billion by 2026

cannabis industry market projects

When states began legalizing cannabis for recreational use following Colorado in 2012, the trend looked promising. Multiple states followed suit in the years to come, and as of 2022, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

In addition to adult-use cannabis, the majority of the country now has some form of medical cannabis laws on the books. The rapid growth of the industry has turned initial predictions for the industry’s revenue on their heads.

In 2017, those with insights into the industry and a pulse on the growth of the legal cannabis market predicted that the industry could bring in as much as $25 billion in revenue by 2025. A recent analysis by MarketsandMarkets found that cannabis industry revenue surpassed $20 billion in 2020. It also predicts that legal cannabis markets could be worth over $90 billion by 2026.

In other words, the industry has triple the growth potential as originally thought. This is a positive sign for those wanting to see the industry grow. It also shows the increasing acceptance of cannabis as a recreational product, and the changing perceptions surrounding cannabis consumers.

Concentrates are the main product sector that is seeing the most growth since 2020, and has the most projected growth through 2026. This includes edibles, tinctures, vape pens, cannabis extracts and other concentrated products.

What may come as a surprise is the finding that medical cannabis dominated the majority of cannabis revenue since 2020. However it does appear that the conductors of the analysis included CBD as a medical cannabis product.

CBD has exploded in popularity as a legal “health supplement” after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, i.e. cannabis with a THC percentage below .3%. Opposed to medical cannabis which requires a patient’s license and purchasing from a licensed dispensary, CBD can be obtained from a smoke shop or gas station in some cases.

Not to take away from the success of medical cannabis states, Oklahoma was the highest grossing cannabis market in the country in 2021, despite only having a medical cannabis program.

Overall, future growth of cannabis markets will be mostly seen in North America as Canadian and US markets continue to grow. Other factors such as an increase in recognition of medical benefits of cannabis and growing consumer demand for cannabis in disease management and treatment due to high health care costs are expected to drive the growth in the North American region.

As for hemp markets, the industry is projected to hit roughly $25 billion by 2025. The hemp industry was worth over $4.5 billion in 2019, just one year after hemp was federally legalized.

What to know about Oklahoma cannabis legislation changes

What to know about Oklahoma cannabis legislation changes

Oklahoma cannabis legislation passes

The 2022 legislative session has ended in Oklahoma, bringing with it over a dozen new pieces of legislation specifically impacting the medical cannabis industry.

OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry sent an email to cannabis business owners this week with details on the new legislation, while also thanking businesses for their cooperation and transitioning to Metrc. Metrc is a seed to sale track and trace system specifically designed for the cannabis industry.

While chosen to be implemented in September of 2020, it wasn’t until May 26, this year that the state finally forced the transition.

“Through the struggles and bumps in the road, we’ve taken your feedback, questions, comments and complaints directly to Metrc every single time. Some answers are quick and easy, others take days to solve. At the end of the day, I want you to know that we are working on every issue you’ve brought us and will not let problems go unsolved.” said Berry.

In addition to the implementation of Metrc, Oklahoma’s governor also signed thirteen separate cannabis-related bills into law this week. The laws still must go through a rulemaking process in which regulations are formed. The public will be allowed input in this process.

House Bill 2179: Creates a tiered commercial grower fee structure based on size and type of facility — annual fees would range from the current $2,500 to more than $50,000. Under the terms of the bill, processor license fees will be determined by volume and range from $2,500 to $40,000. Dispensaries will pay $2,500 to $10,000, based on annual sales. Testing laboratories will pay a flat $20,000. Effective June 1, 2023.

House Bill 3019: Adjusts packaging standards to allow clear packaging for edibles but requires opaque exit packaging for carrying out of the dispensary. Effective Nov. 1, 2022.

House Bill 3208: Places a moratorium on new business licenses between Aug. 1, 2022, and Aug. 1, 2024. The legislation itself takes effect July 1, 2022. OMMA will incorporate the legislation into new emergency rules that will take effect in July before the moratorium begins Aug. 1, 2022. Current grower, dispensary and processor licenses are not included in the moratorium. OMMA will accept new grower, dispensary and processor applications through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 1, 2022. Read more about HB 3208.

House Bill 3530: Creates a revolving fund to be used by OMMA to establish programs and provide funding to support county sheriff enforcement of medical marijuana laws and regulations. Effective immediately.

House Bill 3929: By Jan. 1, 2024, OMMA must promulgate rules to create a process validation program in which licensees may voluntarily participate. Effective immediately.

House Bill 3971: By Jan. 1, 2024, OMMA must create a “secret shopper” program by rule promulgation to purchase medical marijuana in dispensaries and send samples for testing. Effective January 1, 2024.

House Bill 4056: After receiving recommendations from QA lab and a committee of licensed labs, OMMA must promulgate rules by Jan. 1, 2024, that set out required equipment and standards to be used by all licensed labs. Effective immediately.

Senate Bill 1367: Enhances penalties for the unlawful diversion of medical marijuana products to someone not legally allowed to acquire or consume them. Effective Nov. 1, 2022.

Senate Bill 1511: Prohibits commercial grow operations within 1,000 feet of a school. The legislation makes an exception for established businesses. SB 1511 is already in effect — it was effective immediately when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed it in March.

Senate Bill 1543: Establishes OMMA as an independent state agency separate from the state Department of Health. Effective Nov. 1, 2022. Read more about SB 1543 on our website.

Senate Bill 1704: Requires all employees of medical marijuana businesses to apply for a badge/credential beginning Jan. 1, 2024, and allows OMMA to contract with a third party to provide those services. Effective Nov. 1, 2022.

Senate Bill 1726: Adds technology centers primarily used for classroom instruction to the list of school buildings that dispensaries and grows must be at least 1,000 feet away from. Effective immediately.

Senate Bill 1737: Outdoor growers must register as a sensitive crop, and all commercial growers must post signage at the perimeter of the property with specific information. Effective Nov. 1, 2022.

 
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