Legislative & Licensing Update: February 3, 2022
Finally — medical marijuana is official in Mississippi.
Opt-outs voted down in South Dakota and Senate debate in South Carolina. Plus, other cannabis legislative and licensing news from New Jersey, Oregon, Florida, D.C., Missouri, Nevada, Maryland, and Ohio.
In New Jersey, the state’s recreational marijuana law directed the CRC to begin sales on February 22 – six months after rules and regulations were to be established by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. But Jeff Brown, the commission’s executive director, said there are obstacles to launching this month, including a lack of municipal buy-in. Brown said: “February 22 is not a concrete date to open. There is no firm commitment on timing of when recreational sales will begin.”
Also in New Jersey, Representative Donald Payne expressed fury that none of the 56 licenses to sell cannabis in the state have been issued to Black-owned businesses. “I am outraged to hear that Black-owned businesses have been shut out of the state’s cannabis marketplace,” said the representative, adding that “Black users are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white users, even though overall use for both groups is almost the same. New Jersey has a chance to correct this inequality and allow people abused by the system to finally benefit from it with a fair distribution of cannabis business licenses.
In Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer (D) said the Drug Enforcement Administration needs to get out of the way of patients having access to psychedelic therapy. “A criminal justice enforcement agency is not well-equipped” to handle this complex drug policy issue, the congressman said. “I’d like to just get them out of the equation. If I had my way, we would redirect resources in ways that would be much more effective and realistic.”
Meanwhile, also in regard to psychedelics, Florida Democratic congressional candidate Jesse Philippe tweeted, “The most dangerous aspect about psychedelic plants is their criminalization. Stop incarcerating innocent people and stop propping up the ‘black market’ economy. If there is demand; we should create a safe/legal avenue for people to get treatment.”
In the nation’s capital, the chairman of the Washington, D.C. Council is floating a tax holiday for medical cannabis sales during the week of 4/20. D.C.’s medical marijuana dispensaries say they’ve seen a drop-off in customers because of illicit “gifting” shops and delivery services, so the councilman is looking to help offset this downturn.
The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission reversed regulators’ decision not to award a medical cannabis cultivation license to a company after finding irregularities with how applications were evaluated. Missouri’s process to evaluate medical marijuana licenses seem rushed and governed by ‘intentionally vague guidance’, the Commission reported.
Nevada regulators fined a marijuana dispensary $45k that self-reported a regulatory violation. The fine stemmed from a single sale in May 2021 in which an employee of Nevada Organic Remedies sold more than the legally allowable 1 ounce of marijuana. The company discovered the error and reported it to the Cannabis Compliance Board three days after the sale.
In Maryland, Governor John King says that it’s past time to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state and expunge records for nonviolent offenders. “I look forward to equitably implementing this transformative legislation as governor,” he said last week.
Counties and municipalities in South Dakota can’t get out of having to license medical cannabis establishments, according to guidance passed by the South Dakota House of Representatives. Legislation that would have let local governments pass exemption ordinances failed on Monday afternoon, on a narrow 31-33 vote.
Ohio regulators conducted a drawing for cannabis business licenses on January 27th and have announced more than 1400 winners, including several Canna Advisors clients.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said Tuesday that he has not decided whether he will sign a bill to legalize marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS, and sickle cell disease. Fortunately, the bill is expected to become law regardless of what the Republican governor does because the GOP-led House and Senate passed it last week by veto-proof majorities. UPDATE SINCE RECORDING: Governor Reeves signed the bill on Wednesday of this week.
Finally, the South Carolina Senate at long last began a floor debate on a medical cannabis bill that’s been eight years in the making. The discussion is expected to last for several legislative days before a vote is held. Many regard South Carolina as a cannabis prohibition hold-out state, so this is good news for the American South.