Oregon: OLCC Commission Greenlights Solution For Streamlining License Applications

Commission supports “fix-it ticket” approach for minor compliance violations

Marijuana license stipulated settlements approved

OREGON: At its regular monthly meeting on October 15, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission moved forward with plans to streamline the agency’s recreational marijuana licensing process and adjust compliance and enforcement activity through a Verification of Compliance (VOC) program. The Commission also approved five marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements.

OLCC has been challenged to timely issue marijuana licenses since April 2016, due to the continued interest in the recreational market. Personnel and technology support have not kept pace with license applications that quickly shot past the initial projection of 800 licenses and now number more than 2,300.

As the industry has matured, the agency’s ability to regulate it has evolved and the OLCC has modified its licensing process several times in an attempt to streamline. This latest licensing process adjustment attempts to make it easier for applicants to begin operating before the final approval of changes in ownership and financial interest changes in a licensed business.

Likening the existing license process to a freeway that squeezes from 10 lanes down to two, the Chair of the Commission cautioned that efficiencies made through continuous adjustments to the licensing process would not be enough to address the long term licensing challenge.

“We’re not kidding ourselves, if we don’t get the manpower, the back end is going to be two lanes regardless of the ten lanes up front,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Chair. “If we don’t get the budget, we’re not going to solve this issue.”

For now, this licensing catch-up attempt will be similar to past efforts where staff were reallocated to the licensing division. Under this push to catchup, 16 OLCC staff members will be temporarily reassigned to licensing.

In addition to approving a temporary rule allowing the license process change, the Commission also initiated the permanent rulemaking process, which will expand the scope of the streamlining, as well as provide an opportunity for industry input.

The Commission also initiated the permanent rule making process for the new Verification of Compliance (VOC) program. The VOC program, which launched October 1, 2020, provides licensees with an opportunity to fix problems and avoid more severe penalties.

See Recreational Marijuana Program Compliance Education Bulletin 2020-05 for more information on the Verification of Compliance program.

The Commission also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

GREENRIDGE AGRONOMY will serve a 65-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR pay a fine of $5,775 AND serve a 30-day license suspension cfor six violations.

Licensee is: GreenRidge Agronomy, LLC; Stanley Tamiyasu, Member; Brandon Pierson, Member.

HEALING GREEN DISPENSARY in Independence will surrender its marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Healing Green, LLC; Michael Hecht, Member.

KAYA FARMS (#A8DF) will surrender its recreational marijuana processor license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Sunstone Marketing Partners, LLC; Robert Frey, Member/Manager.

KAYA FARMS (#035C) will surrender its recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.

Licensees are: Sunstone Marketing Partners, LLC; Robert Frey, Member/Manager.

UPMQUA GREEN CROSS in Roseburg will surrender its recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for seven violations.

Licensees are: Umpqua Green Cross, LLC; Edward Allen, Member.

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Approves Policy Changes To Proposed Regulations for Adult Use Delivery in Massachusetts

MASSACHUSETTS:  Following a public comment period that closed October 15, the Cannabis Control Commission  on Tuesday approved additional policy changes to its draft regulations that establish two Marijuana Establishment types authorized to provide limited delivery services to adult-use cannabis consumers in the Commonwealth. A final vote on all modifications to Massachusetts’ adult and medical use of marijuana regulations will occur at a subsequent public meeting slated for October 29.

Previously referred to as Limited Delivery Licenses and Wholesale Delivery Licenses, the newly categorized Marijuana Courier and Marijuana Delivery Operator license types discussed Tuesday aim to further the Commission’s mission to ensure meaningful participation in the legal cannabis industry by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and to satisfy consumer demand that is currently being met by illicit market participants. The Commission’s draft delivery regulations specify that both license types will be exclusively available to Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants (EEAs) and Social Equity Program (SEP) Participants for a minimum of three years, with the exclusivity period beginning once the first Marijuana Delivery Operator commences operations.

To that end, among the additional delivery changes approved Tuesday, Commissioners put in place operations restrictions, modified caps on ownership and control, and limits to financial relationships with third-party technology platform providers in order to prevent entities from dominating this emerging delivery market segment. They include:

  • Requiring that marijuana products out for distribution by a delivery licensee will be associated with a specific, individual order to prevent entities from operating as mobile warehouses or retail stores;
  • Deeming a third-party technology platform provider with any financial interest— including but not limited to, a delivery agreement or other agreement for services—in a delivery license as a person or entity having direct control over that license, and limiting such control by those providers to one delivery license;
  • Preventing a single entity from holding direct or indirect control over more than two Marijuana Delivery Operator or Marijuana Courier licenses, under the Commission’s three Marijuana Retailer or Delivery License cap, and restricting a single Marijuana Delivery Operator to maintaining one warehouse as their principal place of business or operations;
  • Underscoring that the Commission shall maintain on its website its publicly available and searchable source of information about all operating licensees and include delivery licensees; and
  • Revisiting the provisions for Marijuana Delivery Operators two years after the first entity commences operations in the Commonwealth to study the competitiveness and concentration of the license type, and if necessary, responding with further regulatory changes or guidance.

The Commission also approved policy changes that bring the adult-use delivery regulations in line with sister state agency requirements for commercial vehicles and tax collection, including:

  • Requiring that commercial vehicles used to transport or deliver marijuana or marijuana products must comply with applicable Registry of Motor Vehicle (RMV) requirements, but may not include any additional external marking that indicates the vehicle is being used to transport or deliver marijuana or marijuana products;
  • Clarifying that although Marijuana Delivery Operators are not considered Marijuana Retailers under the Commission’s regulations, they must register as a vendor with the Department of Revenue (DOR) and collect and remit marijuana retail taxes in accordance with DOR regulations.

The Commission’s development of Marijuana Courier and Marijuana Delivery Operator licenses follows the promulgation of a Delivery-Only, Delivery Endorsement, and pre-certification licensing process in 2019 which received substantial public feedback during the agency’s current regulatory review period. The Marijuana Courier model represents an evolution of the Delivery-Only License the Commission had previously approved in 2019, and maintains those policies and provisions in order to keep barriers to industry entry low and support participation by applicants with limited capital.

In direct response to public comment received during the initial 2020 regulatory review period, the Commission approved the Marijuana Delivery Operator license authorizing businesses to purchase marijuana and finished marijuana products at wholesale from Cultivators, Craft Marijuana Cooperatives, Product Manufacturers, and Microbusinesses, and sell individual orders directly to consumers. By expanding the delivery operations available to licensees, the Commission also has adopted additional compliance requirements for Marijuana Delivery Operators pertaining to wholesaling, warehousing, white labeling, and sales.

During Tuesday’s meeting the Commission acknowledged the important role of municipalities allowing for delivery licensees to operate within their borders, including the local control provisions in state law. Under the Commission’s draft regulations, licensed delivery service will be able to occur within:

  • A municipality which the delivery licensee has identified as its place of business;
  • Any municipality which allows for adult-use retail within its borders; or
  • Any municipality which, after receiving notice from the Commission, has then notified the Commission that delivery may operate within its borders.

Marijuana Retailers and Micro businesses with Delivery Endorsements will be required to inform their host municipality law enforcement authorities, including police and fire departments, about plans to deliver marijuana and marijuana products directly to consumers.

Tuesday’s session followed multiple public meetings and public comment periods held in June, July, August, and September covering proposed changes across both sets of Commission regulations. To review regulatory drafts, meeting summaries, or minutes from those discussions, visit MassCannabisControl.com. To access video recordings of previous meetings, visit the Commission’s Facebook or YouTube channels. After the Commission reconvenes October 29 to vote on the final adult and medical use of marijuana regulatory changes, those provisions will be submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office for their review and promulgation.

Virginia Congressman Riggleman Sends Letter To DEA In Support Of Hemp Industry

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Congressman Denver Riggleman, along with eight of his House colleagues, sent a letter to acting Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrator Timothy Shea to protect hemp producers and clarify hemp regulations due to discrepancies in the DEA Interim Final Rule (IFR).

The letter, led by Rep. David Joyce (R-OH-14), asks Administrator Shea to address the discrepancies between the 2018 Farm Bill and the DEA Interim Final Rule which was issued in August 2020. The IFR issued specific restrictions regarding hemp derived material that appears to contradict the legalization of hemp and hemp derivatives under the 2018 Farm Bill. According to the newly released IFR, provisions of the Farm Bill can result in criminal liability.

“The DEA must specify their requirements and streamline hemp directives by clarifying the legal means of processing hemp products,” said Congressman Riggleman. “The Farm Bill created new venues of business in this country, and we need to ensure that our hemp farmers have clear directives when it comes to their products.”

The 2018 Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation that opened the door for hardworking hemp farmers by legalizing hemp and hemp derivatives so long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC on a dry weight basis. This bill has allowed states across America to start to build a new industry in hemp production, and expand their markets to CBD products and other related material. The DEA must revise the IFR to protect hemp farmers from overly harsh regulation and ensure that the hemp industry is safeguarded.

Background:

Congressman Riggleman has fought for hemp producers throughout his time in Congress. He is a lead supporter of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and has worked with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to expand economic opportunity for hemp farmers in the 5th District and beyond. Earlier this year he also introduced the Hemp Opportunity Zone Act which would designate certain low-income areas as “opportunity zones” and provide economic incentives to grow the hemp industry and encourage long-term investment in rural communities. The hemp industry has the potential to be a game changer for farmers in America and the 5th District can lead this effort.

Learn more about the industrial hemp industry from the USDA here. Learn about how a new hemp processing facility will strengthen the economy and bring more than 20 new jobs to South Boston, VA here.

 

Justice Department Announces Global Resolution of Criminal and Civil Investigations with Opioid Manufacturer Purdue Pharma and Civil Settlement with Members of the Sackler Family

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Today (10/21/2020), the Department of Justice announced a global resolution of its criminal and civil investigations into the opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma LP (Purdue), and a civil resolution of its civil investigation into individual shareholders from the Sackler family.  The resolutions with Purdue are subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court.

“The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths, in addition to those caused by illicit street opioids,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.  “With criminal guilty pleas, a federal settlement of more than $8 billion, and the dissolution of a company and repurposing its assets entirely for the public’s benefit, the resolution in today’s announcement re-affirms that the Department of Justice will not relent in its multi-pronged efforts to combat the opioids crisis.”

“Today’s resolution is the result of years of hard work by the FBI and its partners to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S.,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office.  “Purdue, through greed and violation of the law, prioritized money over the health and well-being of patients.  The FBI remains committed to holding companies accountable for their illegal and inexcusable activity and to seeking justice, on behalf of the victims, for those who contributed to the opioid crisis.”

“The opioid epidemic remains a significant public health challenge that impacts the lives of men and women across the country,” said Gary L. Cantrell Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.  “Unfortunately, Purdue’s reckless actions and violation of the law senselessly risked patients’ health and well-being.  With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to combat the opioid crisis, including holding the pharmaceutical industry and its executives accountable.”

“This resolution closes a particularly sad chapter in the ongoing battle against opioid addiction,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Administrator Tim McDermott.  “Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States’ efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion.  The devastating ripple effect of Purdue’s actions left lives lost and others addicted.  DEA will continue to work tirelessly with our partners and the pharmaceutical industry to address the damage that has been done, and bring an end to this epidemic that has gripped the nation for far too long.”

Purdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty in federal court in New Jersey to a three-count felony information charging it with one count of dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.  The criminal resolution includes the largest penalties ever levied against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, including a criminal fine of $3.544 billion and an additional $2 billion in criminal forfeiture.  For the $2 billion forfeiture, the company will pay $225 million on the effective date of the bankruptcy, and, as further explained below, the department is willing to credit the value conferred by the company to State and local governments under the department’s anti-piling on and coordination policy.  Purdue has also agreed to a civil settlement in the amount of $2.8 billion to resolve its civil liability under the False Claims Act.  Separately, the Sackler family has agreed to pay $225 million in damages to resolve its civil False Claims Act liability.

The resolutions do not include the criminal release of any individuals, including members of the Sackler family, nor are any of the company’s executives or employees receiving civil releases.

While the global resolution with the company is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York, one important condition in the resolution is that the company would cease to operate in its current form and would instead emerge from bankruptcy as a public benefit company (PBC) owned by a trust or similar entity designed for the benefit of the American public, to function entirely in the public interest.  Indeed, not only will the PBC endeavor to deliver legitimate prescription drugs in a manner as safe as possible, but it will aim to donate, or provide steep discounts for, life-saving overdose rescue drugs and medically assisted treatment medications to communities, and the proceeds of the trust will be directed toward State and local opioid abatement programs.  Based on the value that would be conferred to State and local governments through the PBC, the department is willing to credit up to $1.775 billion against the agreed $2 billion forfeiture amount.  The department looks forward to working with the creditor groups in the bankruptcy in charting the path forward for this PBC so that its public health goals can be best accomplished.

The Criminal Pleas

As part of the plea, Purdue will admit that from May 2007 through at least March 2017, Purdue conspired to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful function of the DEA by representing to the DEA that Purdue maintained an effective anti-diversion program when, in fact, Purdue continued to market its opioid products to more than 100 health care providers whom the company had good reason to believe were diverting opioids and by reporting misleading information to the DEA to boost Purdue’s manufacturing quotas.  The misleading information comprised prescription data that included prescriptions written by doctors that Purdue had good reason to believe were engaged in diversion.  The conspiracy also involved aiding and abetting violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by facilitating the dispensing of its opioid products, including OxyContin, without a legitimate medical purpose, and thus without lawful prescriptions.

In addition, Purdue will admit to conspiring to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.  Between June 2009 and March 2017, Purdue made payments to two doctors through Purdue’s doctor speaker program to induce those doctors to write more prescriptions of Purdue’s opioid products.  Similarly, from approximately April 2016 through December 2016, Purdue made payments to Practice Fusion Inc., an electronic health records company, in exchange for referring, recommending, and arranging for the ordering of Purdue’s extended release opioid products – OxyContin, Butrans, and Hysingla.

The Civil Settlements

The department’s civil settlements resolve the United States’ claims as to both Purdue and its individual shareholders, members of the Sackler family.

The civil settlement with Purdue provides the United States with an allowed, unsubordinated, general unsecured bankruptcy claim for recovery of $2.8 billion.   This settlement resolves allegations that from 2010 to 2018, Purdue caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs, specifically Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and the Indian Health Service.  The government alleged that Purdue promoted its opioid drugs to health care providers it knew were prescribing opioids for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary, and that often led to abuse and diversion.  For example, Purdue learned that one doctor was known by patients as “the Candyman” and was prescribing “crazy dosing of OxyContin,” yet Purdue had sales representatives meet with the doctor more than 300 times.  It also resolves the government’s allegations that Purdue engaged in three different kickback schemes to induce prescriptions of its opioids.  First, Purdue paid certain doctors ostensibly to provide educational talks to other health care professionals and serve as consultants, but in reality to induce them to prescribe more OxyContin.  Second, Purdue paid kickbacks to Practice Fusion, as described above.  Third, Purdue entered into contracts with certain specialty pharmacies to fill prescriptions for Purdue’s opioid drugs that other pharmacies had rejected as potentially lacking medical necessity.

Under a separate civil settlement, individual members of the Sackler family will pay the United States $225 million arising from the alleged conduct of Dr. Richard Sackler, David Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Dr. Kathe Sackler, and Jonathan Sackler (the Named Sacklers).  This settlement resolves allegations that, in 2012, the Named Sacklers knew that the legitimate market for Purdue’s opioids had contracted.  Nevertheless, they requested that Purdue executives recapture lost sales and increase Purdue’s share of the opioid market.  The Named Sacklers then approved a new marketing program beginning in 2013 called “Evolve to Excellence,” through which Purdue sales representatives intensified their marketing of OxyContin to extreme, high-volume prescribers who were already writing “25 times as many OxyContin scripts” as their peers, causing health care providers to prescribe opioids for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary, and that often led to abuse and diversion.

The civil settlement also resolves the government’s allegations that from approximately 2008 to 2018, at the Named Sacklers’ request, Purdue transferred assets into Sackler family holding companies and trusts that were made to hinder future creditors, and/or were otherwise voidable as fraudulent transfers.

Today’s resolution does not resolve claims that states may have against Purdue or members of the Sackler family, nor does it impede the debtors’ ability to recover any fraudulent transfers.

Today’s announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen; Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division Jeffrey Clark; U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont Christina Nolan; and First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Rachael Honig.  The criminal investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of New Jersey and Vermont, the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, and the FBI’s Washington, D.C. and Newark Field Offices, with assistance by DEA.  The civil settlements were handled by the Fraud Section of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of New Jersey and Vermont, with assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of General Counsel and Office of Counsel to the Inspector General; the Defense Health Agency; and the Office of Personnel Management.  The Purdue bankruptcy matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, Corporate/Finance Section.

Except to the extent of Purdue’s admissions as part of its criminal resolution, the claims resolved by the civil settlements are allegations only.  There has been no determination of liability in the civil matters.

New Report: Half Of All Marijuana Arrests In Montana Are For One Gram Or Less

A new study analyzes 2007-2018 FBI arrest statistics and estimates that each marijuana arrest costs the state over $10,000

MONTANA:  New Approach Montana, the 2020 ballot campaign backing CI-118 and I-190, has published a report analyzing marijuana arrests in Montana from 2007 through 2018. The report is based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and is authored by Jonathan Gettman, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Shenandoah University.

The report notes that, “from 2009 to 2018, Montana law enforcement officers arrested 13,715 people for marijuana offenses, 95% of them for possession.” Using figures from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the report also analyses the costs associated with these arrests and estimates the state spends $10,679 per arrest. The 56-page document provides detailed data tables showing trends in arrests, racial disparities in arrest rates, and arrests by counties.

Ken Linzey, a retired Montana corrections officer, commented, “This report provides the data to verify what many of us in law enforcement already know to be true anecdotally: arresting adults for marijuana is a colossal waste of resources. On top of that, we’re needlessly ruining a lot of young people’s lives — in many cases for less than a gram of marijuana. The current system simply doesn’t serve the people of Montana.”

The report’s other key findings include:

  • In 2018, roughly one out of 20 of all arrests in Montana was marijuana-related.

  • Over 80% of all marijuana arrests, including those for sales, involve seven grams or less.

  • Montanans under the age of 25 accounted for 62% of marijuana arrests in the 10-year period from 2007 to 2016.

  • The vast majority (98.7%) of marijuana violations in Montana from 2007 to 2016 were not associated with other criminal offenses.

  • In 2018 the marijuana possession arrest rate in Montana for Native Americans was 1.9 times higher than the rate for whites. For Black Montanans, the arrest rate is 5.3 times greater than for whites.

  • The report notes that individuals with an arrest record for marijuana can face long-term consequences, such as difficulties in getting a job, accessing affordable housing, and qualifying for college loans.

OLCC Streamlining Marijuana License Applications

Temporary Rule Changes

OREGON:  On October 15, 2020, the Commission adopted temporary rules intended to provide relief to the industry and allowing OLCC greater flexibility in the processing of marijuana license applications. The main changes implemented in these temporary rules are:

  • Revising the definition of who needs to be identified as an “applicant” for the license, including raising the threshold from the 10% to 20% ownership.
  • Changing license application requirements, including reducing the amount of information and documentation which was previously required.
  • Modifying when OLCC may request fingerprints for a background check to once per license year, rather than specifically in conjunction with a renewal application.
  • Applicants can change the location of their proposed licensed premises prior to licensure, except for Producers who are prohibited by law from making that type of change until January 2022.
  • Changes to notification and pre-approval requirements when licensees make changes to business structures or financial interests (see below).
  • Simplified paperwork requirements for Producer propagation endorsement and medically designated canopy registration.

In the coming months, the Commission will go through a permanent rulemaking process to finalize the rules, making adjustments based on feedback from the industry and other stakeholders. Anyone wanting to provide comment or input on proposed rules should subscribe to OLCC’s email updates to stay apprised of the most recent activities, including dates and deadlines for public comment.

 

License Application Streamlining

In light of the current licensing backlog, Commission staff have been developing a comprehensive strategy to improve the processing time frame for all licensing actions. The agency believes that implementing the flexibility afforded by this temporary rule package and making internal process adjustments will significantly reduce the time it takes staff to evaluate each license application. The goal is to make the entire licensing process more efficient, timely, and predictable.

There are three main features that characterize the agency’s new streamlined approach to licensing:

  1. Collecting fewer documents as part of the license application.
  2. Relying on the applicant’s attestation that they have provided complete and accurate information.
  3. Giving the applicant the responsibility for knowing and understanding the laws and rules around marijuana licenses, and ensuring that their business will comply with those rules.

As part of the streamlining process, OLCC will ask applicants to complete updated paperwork which aligns with the temporary rule. We recognize that many applicants have already filled out and submitted paperwork for the license application, but the new set of paperwork is straightforward and will significantly reduce the time it takes OLCC staff to evaluate the license application.

Under the streamlined licensing process, a complete application will typically include:

  • An Application Packet for the appropriate license type. These forms have been streamlined to collect the minimum necessary amount of information. They also now include attestations that OLCC staff will rely on to be accurate when determining whether a license can be issued.
  • A Marijuana Applicant Questionnaire, along with an Individual History form for each individual who qualifies as an “applicant” for the license. The Applicant Questionnaire replaces all of the business structure forms that OLCC has historically collected. OLCC license investigators will no longer routinely collect detailed paperwork describing the structure and ownership of the business and analyze that information to determine which individuals and legal entities are “applicants.” Instead, it is the responsibility of the business to completely and accurately identify all “applicants.” The investigation process will not routinely consider other persons with a “financial interest,” although OLCC retains the authority to do so if necessary.
  • A map or sketch of the proposed premises and a floor plan for any indoor areas. New Premises Map Instructions are available that identify what information needs to be included on the map and floor plan. OLCC staff will rely on the applicant’s attestation that the map and floor plan(s) are complete and accurate.
  • A Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS). This requirement has not changed. An application must include this form, signed by the local government where the proposed premises is located, showing that the proposed license type is not a prohibited use at the proposed premises.

OLCC staff will continue to evaluate each applicant’s relevant criminal history and their record of compliance when previously licensed before issuing a license.

If an applicant has previously submitted fingerprints for a background check with another marijuana license application, OLCC staff will use the results of that license investigation rather than having the person submit new fingerprints. If an applicant has not previously submitted fingerprints, they will need to do so before the application is assigned to a license investigator.

OLCC will continue to contact applicants to confirm that they are prepared to complete the licensing process within 60 days before assigning them to a license investigator. As part of this contact, OLCC staff will provide instructions for applicants to submit fingerprints.  Do not submit fingerprints until you have received these instructions from OLCC staff.

The licensing timelines established in OAR 845-025-1135 still apply:

  • An applicant must complete the application process within 60 calendar days of being contacted by their license investigator.
    • If an applicant does not complete the process in 60 days and has not previously been in a “hold” status, the OLCC will un-assign the application and place it on hold until the Commission is able to reassign it; the reassignment will NOT take place until after other applications have been processed. Due to the volume of other license actions waiting to be processed, there could be a significant wait time before the OLCC reassigns the application.
    • If an applicant does not complete the process in 60 days and has previously been in a “hold” status, the application will be deemed incomplete and inactivated.

 

Oklahoma: New OMMA Emergency Rules Now In Effect

OKLAHOMA: New emergency rules for all Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Agency businesses and patients have gone into effect Oct. 15, 2020. The rules have been signed by the Governor.

The new emergency rules contain changes for reporting, testing standards and the contents of the laboratory Certificates of Analysis. The rules and a summary are available on the OMMA website. The rules reflect our latest efforts to help build a safer industry for businesses and patients in our state

The new rules are effective immediately and can be found at https://omma.ok.gov/rules-regulations.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott OKs Bill Creating Regulated Cannabis Market

VERMONT: Governor Phil Scott today announced action on a range of bills, including the Legislature’s bill to create a regulated cannabis market in Vermont, which will be allowed to go into law without his signature.

Throughout the Legislature’s four-year push to create a regulated cannabis market, Governor Scott has consistently called for any legislation to include a plan and funding for expanded education and prevention programs for Vermont kids, a plan for highway safety and the ability for communities to prohibit retail cannabis businesses. Governor Scott said the Legislature has moved slowly toward his position in these areas.

“This new bill requires cities and towns to authorize these businesses before retail establishments may open. It ensures local zoning applies to cannabis cultivation and production. It dedicates 30% of the excise tax, up to $10 million per year, to education and prevention efforts. And the sales and use tax on cannabis would fund a grant program to expand after school and summer learning programs,” the Governor said. “Additionally, the FY21 budget includes language I proposed to move toward a universal after school network, which is based on a successful model from Iceland and is focused on preventing drug use and improving academic and social outcomes.”

The Governor also highlighted several new provisions to enhance safety on the roadways, including allowing testimony of trained officers and Drug Recognition Experts regarding impairment to be presumed admissible in court, and accepting saliva testing as evidence if performed.

Though these provisions addressed many of Governor Scott’s longstanding concerns, he also called for additional action from the Legislature to address remaining deficiencies in the bill.

“Their work is not done,” he said. “The Legislature needs to strengthen education and prevention – including banning marketing that appeals in any way to our kids – otherwise they are knowingly failing to learn the lessons of the public health epidemic caused by tobacco and alcohol.”

While recognizing that some social justice elements are included in the bill, Governor Scott also noted concerns from communities historically most negatively affected by cannabis enforcement that the bill did not do enough to ensure more equity in this new market. He encouraged legislators to revisit these concerns and work with his Administration and these communities to address them in January.

His letter to the Legislature outlines specific areas for consideration on racial equity, changes to the board appointment timeline and accountability structure, creation of a special fund for education programming and a ban on the sale of vaping products and marketing that appeal to kids.

“This has been a top priority for the majority in the Legislature for four years, but their work is not complete. They must ensure equity in this new policy and prevent their priority from becoming a public health problem for current and future generations. For these reasons, I am allowing this bill to become law without my signature,” concluded Governor Scott.

Click here to view the Governor’s letter to the Legislature regarding S.54.

Governor Scott also allowed S.119 to go into law without his signature, noting he agreed with the goals of the legislation but urged lawmakers to revisit the hastily drafted bill with additional input from marginalized communities and public safety officials.

Click here to view the Governor’s letter to the Legislature regarding S.119.

In addition, Governor Scott signed several other bills today:

  • S.24, An act relating to a report on racial equity and bias in the Department of Corrections, which accelerates work to develop a racial equity plan that will include data collection, employment and supervision of people under the custody of the Department of Corrections;
  • S. 124, An act relating to governmental structures protecting the public health, safety and welfare, which makes changes to law enforcement training and policy;
  • S.234, An act relating to miscellaneous judiciary procedures, which orders the expungement of all criminal records relating to the possession of cannabis in amounts that have been decriminalized; and
  • S.352, An act relating to making certain amendments to the Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program, which updates the hazard pay program passed earlier this year.

To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2020 legislative session, visit https://governor.vermont.gov/governor-scotts-blog/2020-legislative-session.

WSLCB Issues Emergency Suspension To Okanogan County Marijuana Producer

El Rey De La Kush suspended for alleged distribution of product out of state

WASHINGTON: Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) officers today issued an emergency suspension to Tier 1 producer El Rey de La Kush (license number 428922) located in Riverside, WA. The suspension, effective immediately, is for alleged diversion of product out of the state.

On September 16, 2020, the Wenatchee Police Department notified WSLCB officers of a case they were investigating involving 4.3 pounds of marijuana that had been shipped from a residence in Wenatchee via the United Parcel Service (UPS). A search warrant was served at the residence where approximately 620 pounds of marijuana was discovered. The marijuana had WSLCB traceability system tags associated with El Rey De La Kush.

The suspect in the case, Brandi Clardy, is directly affiliated with El Rey De La Kush and listed as “Other” on the license. The licensee for El Rey De La Kush, Juan Penaloza, died in July 2020. Clardy has been operating the business since his death.

In an interview with the Wenatchee Police Department, Clardy admitted to unlawfully removing marijuana from the licensed premises for the purposes of distributing marijuana out of state

Based on federal enforcement priorities, the WSLCB’s three highest priorities for regulating Washington’s licensed marijuana operation are:

  1. Preventing the criminal element from entering the system;
  2. Keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors; and
  3. Preventing diversion of product out of state.

Marijuana products from El Rey De la Kush were actively being diverted out of a legal licensed producer/processor, to Texas, where marijuana is illegal. The blatant disregard to follow the laws established by the state of Washington for a safe and regulated marijuana market warrant the emergency suspension pending cancellation of this license.

The license will remain suspended for a period of 180 days, during which the WSLCB will pursue permanent revocation.

Emergency suspensions represent an extraordinary exercise of the state’s power and the WSLCB is mandated to ensure that an emergency suspension is reasonable, justifiable and legal. This is only the second Board-issued emergency suspension of 2020.

Blumenauer Calls On Supreme Court To Review Historic Appeal Challenging The Constitutionality Of Federal Criminalization Of Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to review and proceed with hearing Washington v. Barr, the most significant and potentially consequential cannabis-related lawsuit ever to be filed.

The Court will consider the plaintiffs’ appeal at a conference on Friday, October 9, and if the Court accepts the appeal for consideration, it could pave the way to federal legalization of cannabis for the first time since 1937, providing relief to millions of Americans who treat with medical marijuana to maintain their health and lives. If the Court were to decline to hear the appeal, the case would be over for good, resigning another generation of medical marijuana patients and the state-legal cannabis industry – which has invested billions in the state-legal market – to further legal uncertainty.

“The fact that nearly 94 percent of Americans support legalizing medical cannabis and yet it remains illegal at the federal level is a national disgrace,” said Blumenauer. “Furthermore, the laws and subsequent court decisions on cannabis are a mangled patchwork of contradictions. This case is an important opportunity to fix our failed national cannabis laws.”

In July 2020, the plaintiffs in Washington v. Barr filed their appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the federal criminalization of medical marijuana. The case was filed on behalf of five plaintiffs, including former NFL player Marvin Washington, Iraq War Veteran Jose Belen, 15-year-old Alexis Bortell, nine-year-old Jagger Cotte and the Cannabis Cultural Association.

As acknowledged by the District Court in this case, Alexis, Jagger and Specialist Belen are patients whose lives have been saved by medical cannabis. As reflected in the Complaint, Marvin Washington is a cannabis entrepreneur whose business would otherwise be eligible for federal funding through the Minority Business Enterprise program, but for his participation in the cannabis industry. The Cannabis Cultural Association seeks economic parity and social justice for persons of color who have been unfairly singled out for prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act and unjustly excluded economically from the state-legal cannabis industry.

Blumenauer along with seven federal lawmakers submitted an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff’s appeal. The case also has amicus brief support from 19 advocacy groups, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the International Cannabis Bar Association, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Last Prisoner Project, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and Americans For Safe Access.

Despite its legalization by 38 U.S. states and territories, cannabis is illegal at the federal level, creating insurmountable problems for patients around the country. Patients have lost their jobs, been expelled from colleges, and lost their professional licenses, even if state-legal jurisdictions, due to cannabis stigmatization wrought by federal prohibition.

While cannabis is also on the ballot in five states that will be voting on some form of cannabis legalization in November, adoption of legalization electorally on the state level will not solve the problems associated with federal prohibition. Rather, it would merely reinforce the absurdity of marijuana’s classification under Schedule I.

To read the full amicus brief filed on behalf of Blumenauer and his Congressional colleagues, click here.