Legislative and Licensing Update: Week of May 24, 2021
Bills signed or on the governor’s desk in Alabama, Minnesota, and Montanna. Social equity details released in Arizona. Continued talks in Connecticut and New York. Tension and frustration in Mississippi, plus appeals and legal challenges in Missouri.
Senior Project Manager Garrett Cropsey gives this week’s cannabis news update.
It’s official! Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey, signed the state’s medical cannabis bill into law! While the Alabama Compassion Act itself is quite restrictive–banning smokable flower, vaping products, candies, and baked goods while also setting low dosage limits–it does offer a number of licensing opportunities, which are set to open in September of 2022.
Moving on to Arizona, state regulators released a revised draft of the social equity licensing rules on May 19th for the upcoming adult-use licensing round. The update requires applicants to have resided in Arizona for at least three of the past five years and lays out 5 other social equity related criteria, of which applicants must satisfy 3 in order to qualify. The application window is tentatively set for December 1st to December 14, 2021.
legislative leaders met with the office of Governor Ned Lamont on Tuesday the 18th to continue to lay out plans for legalization on the heels of a new poll that showed majority support for the change in policy. Discussions are focused around social equity qualifications and the benefits that status would provide applicants in the licensing process. While the current legislative session is set to end on June 9th, Connecticut’s House speaker and majority leader have reiterated that lawmakers could hold a special session to finalize a marijuana legalization bill.
The Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation this past Monday the 17th, voting in favor of allowing patients access to smokable flower. Allowances for curbside pickup and the expansion of caregiver limits from one patient to up to six were also included. This effort comes as part of a larger healthcare bill and is now on the desk of Gov. Tim Walz awaiting his signature. Once signed, this legislation is set to take effect on July 1st of this year.
In the wake of last week’s Mississippi Supreme Court decision to overturn the medical marijuana initiative voters approved last fall, for largely procedural reasons, lawmakers are floating the idea of holding a special session to pass new medical marijuana legislation.
A recent poll shows that Mississippi voters support impeaching the Supreme Court justices who overturned the state’s medical marijuana law last week. Voters also want lawmakers to hold a special session to pass cannabis legislation that mirrors the now-invalidated ballot measure.
In Missouri, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled last week that medical cannabis business license applications, submitted in the 2019 application round, must be disclosed to litigants in denial appeals, despite the constitutional amendment’s requirement for confidentiality. The agency expects to spend at least $12.4 million fighting legal challenges in the coming year, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Governor Greg Gianforte (R) finally signed the renegotiated bill to implement cannabis legalization in the state. This process took much longer than usual, as Republican lead efforts within the state restructured the bill itself to include limitations not present in the version that voters approved of in the fall. Such augmentations include: a flower potency cap of 35%; an 18-month headstart for existing medical marijuana companies in the state over new applicants; reduces home grow allowances from four plants to two; and, changes oversight of the program from the Dept. of Public Health and Human Services to the Department of Revenue.
Thank those of you who joined my colleagues, Sumer Thomas and Vince DiMichelle, for our New York webinar last week! A recording of this webinar is available on our website along with our answers to the Q&A questions. New York regulators published updates to the Cannabinoid Hemp Program’s proposed regulations and are accepting public comments until July 19. These updates are to the state’s existing Cannabinoid Hemp Program and not the new adult-use cannabis program. New York regulators are seeking to delay changes to the state’s medical cannabis program that were included in the adult-use marijuana legalization legislation passed last fall, until a new regulatory body is formed. These efforts are opposed by Sen. Liz Krueger, the Senate’s chief sponsor of the bill, who stated that the changes to the medical program are simply a matter of adjusting paperwork and should not be delayed. Separately, a top advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) spoke to county officials about plans for a controlled rollout of the new adult-use program, in order to navigate the state’s transition from prohibition to a matter of public health.