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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.

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.”

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.