New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis

NEW MEXICO: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday formally enacted adult-use cannabis legalization in the state of New Mexico, signing into law an historic measure approved by the state Legislature after the governor called them into a special session for that purpose late last month.

“The legalization of adult-use cannabis paves the way for the creation of a new economic driver in our state with the promise of creating thousands of good paying jobs for years to come,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”

New jobs, new revenue

The sales of adult-use recreational cannabis could amount to $318 million in the first year, creating over several years what could be more than 11,000 new jobs, according Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, independent economist and public finance expert. Preliminary estimates are that the excise tax will raise at least $20 million for the general fund in the first full fiscal year, with significant growth in subsequent years. Local governments will also benefit from the added revenue.

“As we look to rebound from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, entrepreneurs will benefit from this great opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises, the state and local governments will benefit from the added revenue and, importantly, workers will benefit from the chance to land new types of jobs and build careers,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

“Today, New Mexico seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a multi-million industry with a framework that’s right for our state and will benefit New Mexicans for generations to come,” said Rep. Javier Martínez. “Not only are we launching a burgeoning industry that will strengthen our economy, create jobs and generate tax dollars, but we are doing so in an equitable way that will curb the illicit market and undo some damage of the failed war on drugs.”

A well regulated industry spurs economic activity, creates revenue for state and local government and protects the public

The governor’s signature today launches an administrative process that will culminate in the launch of commercial sales for adults no later than April 1, 2022. The issuance of licenses to conduct commercial cannabis activity will begin no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

“This is a major new program for the state that will have a positive impact on job growth and the economy, but it does require smart regulation in order to protect the public and entrepreneurs seeking to get into the business,” said Sen. Katy Duhigg. “I’m proud of the work we did to ensure that we are creating a fair and equitable program that has a low barrier to entry. At the same time, proper regulation and oversight will keep our successful medical cannabis program intact and help new businesses grow while keeping consumers safe.”

Gross receipts tax and local taxes apply to the value of the adult-use purchase.

“This is the right model for New Mexico because it creates a local, sustainable and regulated industry while at the same time protecting what’s near and dear to all us, including public health, road safety and the well-being of our youth,” said Superintendent Linda M. Trujillo of the state Regulation and Licensing Department, which will oversee and manage the new industry.

New Mexico becomes the latest state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use cannabis, and is only the fifth state to enact it through its state Legislature.

“The standardization and statewide regulation that comes with a bona fide industry will protect consumers,” said Trujillo. “In addition, local jurisdictions will be able to enact reasonable zoning, land use and other business requirements.”

Protecting public safety, health, consumers and N.M. youth

The legislation creates a Public Health Advisory Board to monitor cannabis use and data pertaining to the health effects of legalizing cannabis. In addition, the Department of Health is required to provide annual reports, including information on youth access, driving and road safety, workplace safety, consumer and product safety and emergency room visits involving cannabis.

“Protections for our children are an essential part of this plan and include strict restrictions of packaging, labeling and advertising, as well as stiff penalties for anyone selling cannabis to persons younger than 21,” said Sen. Linda Lopez.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez, Rep. Andrea Romero, Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Sen. Linda Lopez and Sen. Katy Duhigg.

“The legalization of cannabis is ultimately a public health measure. When we regulate the industry, we can control the product quality, protect consumers, and bring down the dangerous illicit market in our state,” said Rep. Debbie Armstrong. “This law includes dozens of necessary safeguards to protect our youth, ensure adequate supply for the medical program, and will bring in additional funds for programs, services, and research to support the health and wellbeing of New Mexicans.”

Expungement of convictions

Surrounded by legislative sponsors and advocates outside the state Capitol, Gov. Lujan Grisham, who has advocated for legalization since taking office, signed legislation that will authorize the expungement old low-level cannabis convictions from the record of what is expected to be tens of thousands of New Mexicans and make possible the potential early release of low-level convicted cannabis offenders who are currently incarcerated.

“Thousands of people, and a disproportionate number of them from communities of color, have been wronged by this country’s failed war on drugs,” said Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. “We will all benefit from our state’s smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions.”

“For decades, our communities of color have been discriminated against for minor cannabis offenses, so we must ensure that those who would not be arrested today do not continue to be incarcerated or held back by criminal records for acts that are no longer crimes,” said Rep. Andrea Romero. “By ensuring equity and social justice in our cannabis legalization, we are saying ‘enough’ to the devastating ‘War on Drugs’ that over-incarcerated and over-penalized thousands of New Mexicans.”

This important social justice measure was sponsored by Sen. Lopez, Sen. Duhigg, Rep. Martinez, Rep. Romero and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino.

“The signing of the cannabis legalization and expungement package will ensure equitable opportunities for farmers and other small businesses, and long overdue justice – including automatic expungement – for those with past cannabis arrests or convictions,” said Emily Kaltenbach, Senior Director, Resident States and New Mexico, Drug Policy Alliance. “We thank the Governor and our legislative allies for not taking ‘no’ for an answer and stopping at nothing until we were able to get justice for New Mexico communities – particularly Hispanic/Latinx, Black, Native and Indigenous – that have been immensely harmed by cannabis prohibition.”

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“This legislation is a major, major step forward for our state,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Legalized adult-use cannabis is going to change the way we think about New Mexico for the better – our workforce, our economy, our future. We’re ready to break new ground. We’re ready to invest in ourselves and the limitless potential of New Mexicans. And we’re ready to get to work in making this industry a successful one.”

The governor’s signature on the final bills to have reached her desk from the special session caps an incredibly productive spring 2021 legislative season, during which the Legislature and governor delivered a series of significant policy achievements, including many that were either campaign promises and/or longstanding priorities of the governor.

On top of the passage of a constitutional amendment ballot measure that would authorize an additional portion of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education, and in addition to long-sought social welfare measures, the Legislature authorized and governor enacted almost $1 billion in direct pandemic relief for individuals and businesses across the state, including $200 million in small business grants, $500 million in small business loans, a tax holiday for hospitality businesses and restaurants, a $600 tax rebate for working families and a sweeping tax overhaul that will amount to a significantly boosted tax rebate for tens of thousands of New Mexico middle-class families.

New Jersey Governor Murphy Signs Historic Adult-Use Cannabis Reform Bills Into Law

NEW JERSEY:  Governor Phil Murphy today signed historic adult-use cannabis reform bills into law, legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older (A21 – “The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act”) and decriminalizing marijuana and hashish possession (A1897). The Governor also signed S3454, clarifying marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old.

“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I’ve strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible,” said Governor Murphy. “This November, New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model.

“This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities, while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters,” continued Governor Murphy. “Today, we’re taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system, while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history. I’d like to thank the Legislature, advocates, faith leaders, and community leaders for their dedicated work and partnership on this critical issue.”

“At long last, New Jersey is turning the page on our previous treatment of marijuana use,” said Dianna Houenou, incoming Chair of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). “I am excited to get to work building on the successes of the medical program and standing up the adult-use cannabis industry. It’s an honor to be part of this historic movement in New Jersey.”

“The failed War on Drugs has systematically targeted people of color and the poor, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities and hurting families in New Jersey and across our nation,” said U.S Senator Cory Booker. “Today is a historic day, and I applaud Governor Murphy, the legislature, and the many advocates for racial and social justice whose leadership is ensuring that New Jersey is at the forefront of equitable marijuana legalization policy. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to end the federal marijuana prohibition so we can finally begin healing the wounds of decades of injustice.”

“This is a historic reform that will have a real-life impact on social justice, law enforcement and the state’s economy,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “We can now move forward to correct social injustices at the same time that marijuana is made legal for adults. This  will launch a new cannabis industry with the potential to create jobs and generate economic activity at a time when it is desperately needed. The decriminalization law is the most sweeping measure of its kind in the country and is a groundbreaking step in our continued effort to make criminal justice reforms that are fairer and more effective. This will help reduce the racial disparities and social inequities that have long plagued our criminal justice system.”

“For the last fifty years, marijuana criminalization has been used as a tool to propel mass incarceration,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham. “It has done immeasurable harm to Black and Brown communities around the country, and today we begin to right the ship here in New Jersey. I look forward to seeing the tangible impact this legislation has on our communities in the years to come.”

“I am proud to have been a driving force behind the most progressive decriminalization law in the country and I am grateful to finally see it enacted,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz. “Every day roughly 100 people in New Jersey are arrested for marijuana possession, this law is a move that offers individuals a second chance and ensures they do not become entangled in the criminal justice system. This is yet another step towards bringing justice and equity to our communities. Going forward, we must continue to look for creative solutions to reverse the generational impact the War on Drugs has had.”

“This will usher in a new era of social justice by doing away with the failed policy that criminalized the use of marijuana,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari, the leading advocate of legalizing adult-use marijuana in New Jersey over the past decade. “Too many people have been arrested, incarcerated and left with criminal records that disrupt and even destroy their lives. We don’t want the criminal justice system to be an unfair barrier to success. By implementing a regulated system that allows people age 21 and over to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use we will bring marijuana out of the underground market where it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades. New Jersey will now be a leader in legalizing a once stigmatized drug in ways that will help the communities hurt the most by the War on Drugs and realize the economic benefits of the new adult-use cannabis market.”

“We’re moving closer to the long-overdue need to end cannabis prohibition,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “So much time, effort, and thought have gone into this legislation. We’ve continued conversations, for what I believe, has produced a stronger piece of legislation with a focused eye toward social justice and equity. This is the beginning of a new era of economic opportunity, social justice for marijuana possession, and hope for a better future for thousands of New Jersey residents.”

“With legalization comes an unprecedented opportunity for residents to clean the slate with expungement provisions and for communities to grow their economic base with businesses,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “A key component of cannabis legalization is addressing social justice concerns. The fact that Black New Jerseyans are 3 or 4 times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges has contributed to the disenfranchisement of black communities. We have the opportunity here to also right the wrongs in our society in regards to past criminal possession of cannabis. No matter where you stand in the legalized marijuana debate, there has been a clear understanding that minorities within our urban communities have been hit hardest in the so-called War on Drugs. During this entire campaign for legalization, there has been one united vocal stance: There was harm done in the past and it must be corrected.”

“This new law includes real, enterprising opportunities for New Jersey communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, along with more defined employment opportunities and a commission that requires diversity,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. “This will be a clear revenue generator for the State, and the social justice and diversity portion in the legislation remains imperative.”

“Undoubtedly, this is the largest regulatory undertaking the state has considered since the Casino Control Commission,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. “Remaining at status quo meant continued disparity in arrests for African Americans and teens for amounts now to be considered personal use.  We are moving the state in a direction more compassionate for cannabis and in line with what is happening across the country in regards to legalization.”

“This has been a long time coming in our State,” said Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen. “who chairs the Assembly Federal Relations and Oversight Reform Committee led the discussion on the bill in today’s hearing. “Social justice for black and brown communities, which have been generationally impacted by cannabis prohibition, and equity in business are priorities in this legislation. We cannot fairly, or effectively provide regulation without ensuring these communities stay at the forefront of the conversation.”

“New Jersey voters on November 3rd issued the Legislature a mandate: to provide the infrastructure for the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey. Today, we move on that directive by presenting legislation for discussion with fellow legislation and statewide stakeholders,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of black and brown people and affecting families irreparably for decades. Our work on refining this legislation aims to correct the economic and social justice disparities surrounding cannabis use.”

“With Governor Murphy’s signature, the decades-long practice of racist marijuana enforcement will begin to recede, in a shift that emphasizes the urgency of building the most equitable framework possible for cannabis legalization,” said Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which is a founding member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. “With this historic reform, New Jersey also shifts our approach to youth possession and use by moving away from the punitive status quo to a framework that values public health, harm reduction, and the well-being of young people. Our state’s cannabis laws can set a new standard for what justice can look like, with the removal of criminal penalties for possession and an unprecedented portion of tax revenue dedicated to addressing the harms wrought by the drug war. Signing these laws puts in motion the next phase of this effort: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalization into greater racial and social justice in New Jersey. This is a new beginning – and the culmination of years of advocacy – and we must keep in mind that it is only the start.”

Under A21, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) will promulgate regulations to govern the medical and adult-use industries and oversee the applications for licensing of cannabis businesses. The legislation further provides for the Legislature to reinvest cannabis revenues in designated “impact zones”; directs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in business ownership; and contains critical employment protections for people who engage in lawful behavior with respect to cannabis.

A1897 reforms criminal and civil penalties for marijuana and hashish offenses, as well as provides remedies for people currently facing certain marijuana charges. The bill prevents unlawful low-level distribution and possession offenses from being used in pretrial release, probation, and parole decisions and provides certain protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. The bill also creates a pathway to vacate active sentences for certain offenses committed before enactment of the enabling legislation.

The Governor today also signed S3454 into law, clarifying penalties for marijuana and cannabis possession and consumption for individuals younger than 21 years old. The legislation corrects inconsistencies in A21 and A1897 concerning marijuana and cannabis penalties for those underage.

“I have been working on decriminalizing adult-use marijuana for well over three years now, and I am happy to finally see it become a reality,” said Senator Ronald Rice. “This is a common-sense and just law that gives an equal playing field for folks in communities of color. Many have argued that legalizing adult-use marijuana has been for social, economic and criminal justice, however, decriminalization for me, is equally as important. I will continue to watch closely and fight to ensure communities of color are treated equally.”

“This is only one piece in the many parts of change that must be done in the name of social justice for our communities. The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of people and affecting families irreparably for decades,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “The action we take now to help our black and brown communities who have been disproportionately affected by current laws surrounding cannabis use is critical to trauma for future generations.”

“There have been far too many people, especially those from Black and Hispanic communities, who have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “There have been long-term impacts on the lives of all people in this state, but considerably those of color. This law is the product of taking a hard look at our current laws, listening to the will of the majority of New Jerseyans and taking a common-sense approach to cannabis offenses.”

“Black New Jerseyans are up to four times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges than White people. It is a sad fact, a further painful reminder that so people in our communities have been disenfranchised for far too long,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “There have always been glaring social justice concerns and obvious inequity in the high number of arrests of minority residents. Now, finally, this is the time for it to stop.”

“It’s time for the change we seek,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. “New Jersey residents are not happy with the status quo and we need to move in a direction of compassion for the communities that have long been targeted by current regulatory criteria. The call for action, for social justice reform, is resounding throughout our nation. And it begins in New Jersey today.”

“Decriminalization and expungement for those who have been disproportionately incarcerated for marijuana offenses is well overdue in New Jersey and many other states throughout this nation,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. “A criminal marijuana charge has a detrimental effect on an individual’s opportunity to access higher education, obtain gainful employment, receive housing support, and address child custody issues.  Not all communities are impacted equally by marijuana enforcement, measures to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal records are ones of racial, social, and economic justice. This is about social justice for a people who have endured the inequities in the law for generations.”

In July 2019, Governor Murphy signed legislation (“The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act”) to reform New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) and expand patient access to medical marijuana, ensuring this life-changing medical treatment is affordable and accessible for those who need it most.

In December 2019, Governor Murphy signed one of the most progressive expungement reforms in the nation, giving individuals entangled in the criminal justice system the opportunity to fully participate in society. S4154 eliminated fees for expungement applications and additionally created a petition process for “clean slate” expungement for residents, as well as required the State to implement an automated clean slate expungement system. Furthermore, the bill required that low-level marijuana convictions be sealed upon the disposition of a case, preventing those convictions from being used against individuals in the future.

 

Cresco Labs Opens Tenth Illinois Sunnyside Dispensary In Naperville

The Company increases its national retail footprint to 20 operating stores

ILLINOIS: Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated, multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, announced today the opening of its tenth Illinois dispensary in the third largest city in the state, Naperville. The adult-use Sunnyside dispensary is located at 2740 W. 75th St., one of the busiest shopping areas in Naperville, a western suburb of Chicago.

 

“Our retail platform continues to outperform because we put such a premium on finding the right location for our stores, and Naperville is another example of opening a new location in the heart of one of the city’s most vibrant retail spaces—on the same block as Costco, Whole Foods and Starbucks. We are normalizing the cannabis shopping experience,” said Charlie Bachtell, Cresco Labs’ CEO and Co-founder. “With the opening of Sunnyside Naperville, we are proud to be the first cannabis operator to reach ten dispensaries in Illinois. This milestone and the acceleration of our store growth this year is a reflection of our differentiated strategy and our best-in-class ability to execute it.”

Illinois is one of the most robust cannabis markets in the country where state retail sales are on an annual run rate of more than a billion dollars.1 Sunnyside retail stores continue to command an outsized share of the market.

Sunnyside Naperville will employ nearly 40 people in the nearly 8,400 square foot dispensary featuring 12 points of sale. Adult-use customers can browse live inventory, place online orders through Sunnyside.shop and pickup orders in-store. They will receive a confirmation when their order is ready for pickup. Sunnyside Naperville requires all customers to wear masks and practice social distancing. Regular store hours are 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM CST daily, seven days a week.

In Illinois, Cresco Labs has 10 operating stores in the River North and Lakeview neighborhoods of downtown Chicago; Chicago northwestern suburb of Schaumburg; villages of Elmwood Park and Buffalo Grove in Cook County, the most populous county in the state; northern cities of Rockford and South Beloit, which is near the Wisconsin border; city of Champaign in central Illinois; and city of Danville in eastern Illinois near the Indiana border.

The Company has 20 operating stores in six states, including Illinois, Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

Survey Finds Changing Cannabis Consumer & Consumption Habits

MASSACHUSETTS:  A new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Curaleaf Holdings, Inc., a leading U.S. provider of consumer products in cannabis, finds that 42% of adults aged 21+ who have ever consumed cannabis have started or increased their consumption since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the survey by the independent pollster, conducted online in October 2020 among nearly 2,000 U.S. adults aged 21+, the main reasons many Americans have chosen to start or increase their cannabis consumption since the pandemic began include:

  • to reduce stress and anxiety (54%; women (64%) and men (47%))
  • to relax (50%; women (50%) and men (49%))
  • to help them sleep (48%; women (52%) and men (45%))

This shift in consumption habits extends to parents of children under 18 (“parents”). In fact, more than half (52%) of parents who have ever consumed cannabis say they have started or increased their cannabis consumption since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to 33% of those who are not parents of children under 18. These moms and dads of children under 18 are also more likely to consume cannabis primarily for medical use (58% vs. 44%).

The survey also found that more than half (57%) of parents with children under 18 who have ever consumed cannabis have reduced or replaced their alcohol consumption with cannabis since the start of the pandemic.

Overall, amongst all adult cannabis consumers aged 21+, 45% say they have reduced or replaced their alcohol consumption with cannabis, and one-third (33%) of those who consume cannabis for adult use say they prefer cannabis to alcohol.

“Educating consumers around cannabis consumption is so important,” said Stacia Woodcock, PharmD and Dispensary Manager for Curaleaf in New York. “Curaleaf’s pharmacists and committed dispensary associates make it a priority to educate our patients and consumers and help them find the right products to make cannabis a part of their lives.”

The survey results come as the cannabis industry continues to become destigmatized and evolve into an increasingly mainstream role within society. Governors across the country designated the industry an “essential service” throughout the pandemic, acknowledging the important role cannabis plays serving the health and wellness needs of consumers. In November, voters in five states approved ballot measures expanding access to cannabis. Medicinal cannabis will be available in 36 states and adult-use in 15 states and Washington D.C.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen an increase in new consumers at our dispensaries with more people exploring cannabis,” said Joe Bayern, President of Curaleaf. “The liberalization of the plant — and the increasing diversity among consumers who enjoy it — will continue as the general public become more interested in incorporating cannabis into their health and wellness routines.”

The survey also found similarities in cannabis consumption regardless of educational level or marital status, and across different regions of the country.

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Approves Final Adult Use, Medical Use of Marijuana Regulations and Rescinds Colocated Regulations

MASSACHUSETTS: The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) today approved new medical- and adult-use regulations and phased out 935 CMR 502, Colocated Adult-Use and Medical-Use Marijuana Operations, after bringing sufficient parity to the medical- and adult-use regulations.

“I’m excited that the revised medical- and adult-use regulatory revisions poise the Commission to make significant progress in our mission and statutory mandates on equity, patient access, and public health and safety,” Chairman Steven J. Hoffman said. “While we’ve made tremendous headway over the past three years, we now turn to critical work to implement new provisions, including; the increased caregiver/patient ratio, development of guidance documents, rollout of the Delivery Operator application, and a host of provisions establishing a more equitable and safe industry.”

In the coming weeks, the final regulations will be filed with the Secretary of State’s Regulation Division for promulgation and published on the Commission’s website.

Approved policies include:

Medical Use of Marijuana Program

  • Optimizing Patient access and preserving public safety by:
    • Allowing Caregivers to care for up to five Patients with a Canopy not in excess of 500 square feet;
    • Clarifying that Caregivers may seek a waiver to care for more than five Patients but cannot exceed the 500-square-foot limitation;
    • Preventing perceived risk of diversion by requiring Caregivers to create a log-of-growing and make that log available to the Commission upon request;
    • Broadening the types of physicians who can serve as the second physician making the recommendation for pediatric patients;
    • Requiring Certifying Health Care Providers (Providers) to have a plan to provide discounts to low-income Patients;
    • Allowing Patients with certain hardships to renew every two years instead of one year;
    • Permitting Patients to cultivate up to 12 flowering plants without hardship cultivation, and if more are needed, requiring hardship cultivation;
    • Allowing certain out-of-state Patients to be certified and registered as a Patient in Massachusetts; and
    • Restricting Caregivers from participating in paid advertising.

Equity Programming

  • Promoting a more inclusive and diverse industry by:
    • Waiving all Delivery application and license fees for Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants (EEA) and Social Equity Program (SEP) participants in their first year of licensure under the exclusivity period;
    • Reducing annual license fees by 50%, or to $2,500, for EEAs and SEP participants upon renewal and all subsequent years for applicants;
    • Expanding SEP eligibility to certain categories of individuals and EEAs;
    • Requiring majority ownership by SEP participants in order to access license-related benefits, and potentially expanding these program benefits to microbusinesses and minority-owned, veteran-owned, and women-owned businesses; and
    • Clarifying that individuals who are EEAs, whether on their own or as part of a business entity, can apply as part of a new entity with EEA status so long as it continues to meet three or more of the six criteria, at least one of which shall be a majority-equity-ownership criterion.

Delivery

  • Increasing adult-use access and evolving the Delivery license type by:
    • Approving the Delivery Operator license type, which allows licensees to purchase wholesale Finished Marijuana Products with stringent requirements to warehouse;
    • Clarifying the statutory allowance of up to three Retail licenses and the regulatory allowance of up to a combined total of two Marijuana Courier and/or Delivery Operator licenses;
    • Extending the initial exclusivity period to three-years;
    • Allowing Third-Party Technology Platform Providers to contract with an unlimited number of Delivery Licensees;
    • Authorizing Delivery Operator Licensees to white label, or affix a product label that includes the branding (name and logo) of a specific Marijuana Establishment (ME) to a finished marijuana product that was previously produced and packaged by a licensed Product Manufacturer, Cultivator, Microbusiness, or Craft Marijuana Cooperative for sale to consumers;
    • Allowing Delivery Licensees to sell marijuana accessories and ME-branded goods and non-edible items directly to consumers; and
    • Automatically converting existing Pre-Certified “Delivery-Only” applicants to Delivery Courier Applicants.

Ownership & Control

  • Tightening stringent ownership and control measures further by:
    • Requiring EEAs to report to the Commission all changes of ownership and control and upon renewal and certifying to the Commission that the requisite ownership and control has been maintained by the requisite class of people identified on the EEA’s certification;
    • Preventing monopolies with the addition of safeguards between Third-Party Technology Platforms and Delivery Licensees by explicitly prohibiting:
      • monopolization or attempts at monopolization;
      • inducements;
      • direct or indirect investments from Third-Party Technology Platforms; and
      • restricting determinations of product and licensee placement on an app to objective, customer-oriented criteria.
    • Updating the definition of Persons or Entities with Direct Control by encompassing the equivalent of a Director in a business entity such as a Limited Liability Company, which has Managers in lieu of a Board of Directors, and setting a specific dollar amount with respect to what the Commission considers “significant contracts;” and
    • Confirming that EEAs hold majority ownership (51% or more) over the license to maintain priority status.

Product Database

  • Ensuring that the public is knowledgeable of the hallmarks of legally sourced products, preventing underage access, and lowering the risk of purchasing illicit products by adopting a requirement that Marijuana Establishments, including Delivery Operators, and MTCs comply with the Product Database requirement, just as adult-use licensees must.

Advertising and Branding

  • Modifying advertising and branding regulations by:
    • Allowing of branding sponsorships at certain events, with continued prohibitions on activities that target underage participants or entrants; and
    • Approving targeted advertising through mechanisms such as geofencing, provided they retain documentation of audience composition data related to these marketing activities.

Testing

  • Increasing testing accountability for licencees by:
    • Allowing marijuana products that fail initial contaminant screens to be:
      • Reanalyzed;
      • Remediated and retested by at least the original Independent Testing Laboratory, and a different Independent Testing Laboratory; or
      • Licensees may attempt remediation of a batch that has failed a second test prior to disposal or destruction.
    • Adding new pesticides to the list of pesticides currently required of Independent Testing Laboratory protocols; and
    • Requiring continued testing for vitamin E acetate and a secondary screen for heavy metals from finished vapes.

Video recordings of the Commission’s previous policy discussions and public hearings regarding the new regulations are available on Facebook and YouTube.

Governor Northam Announces Support for Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana in Virginia

Governor says, “The time has come to legalize marijuana in our Commonwealth, and Virginia will get this right.”

VIRGINIA:  Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will introduce and support legislation to legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The announcement comes as the Northam Administration prepares to release a report on the impact of legalizing adult-use marijuana, which was compiled with robust input from government officials, policy experts, healthcare professionals, and community leaders.

“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “Our Commonwealth has an opportunity to be the first state in the South to take this step, and we will lead with a focus on equity, public health, and public safety. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to get this right.”

The Northam Administration is working closely with lawmakers to finalize legislation in advance of the 2021 General Assembly session. Today, Governor Northam made clear that any legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana will need to address the following five principles.

  • Social equity, racial equity, and economic equity. Marijuana prohibition has historically been based in discrimination, and the impact of criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities as result. A report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) issued today found that Black Virginians are arrested and convicted for marijuana use at more than three times the rate of white Virginians. Legislation should focus on undoing these harms by including initiatives such as social equity license programs, access to capital, community reinvestment, and sealing or expunging records of past marijuana-related convictions.
  • Public health. Legislation should include substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and communities.
  • Protections for young people. As a pediatrician, Governor Northam will require any legislation include protections for Virginia’s youth, including age limits, mandatory ID checks, and education campaigns.
  • Upholding the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. Legislation should be aligned with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act prohibiting indoor tobacco use, which Governor Northam championed as a state Senator.
  • Data collection. Legislation should ensure Virginia collects appropriate and ongoing information on safety, health, and equity.

In 2020, Governor Northam signed legislation that decriminalized simple marijuana possession in Virginia. The legislation also required the Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security to convene a Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group to study the impact on the Commonwealth of legalizing the sale and personal use of marijuana and report the recommendations of the work group to the General Assembly and the Governor by November 30, 2020.

Governor Wolf: Legalization Of Adult-Use Cannabis Can Lead To Economic Gains And Restorative Justice For Pennsylvanians

PENNSYLVANIA:  Governor Tom Wolf visited The Mountain Center in Tobyhanna, Monroe County today to talk about the economic growth potential and restorative justice benefits of legalizing adult-use cannabis, something the state General Assembly has not yet done despite multiple requests from the governor and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman to take up legislation this fall.

“This year, I again went to the General Assembly and asked them to make legalizing adult-use cannabis a priority for the fall as we work to find ways to overcome the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “To date, there has been no movement to advance legislation. So, I’m here today to ask again, and to focus on two particular benefits of legalization – potential economic growth and much-needed restorative justice.”

The governor described how legalizing adult-use cannabis offers the same potential for economic growth that the historic farm bill of 2018 did for hemp farming after decades of government prohibition of the industry.

Hemp was once a widespread crop in Pennsylvania, cultivated in the commonwealth for more than 250 years and grown for seeds, fibers and extracts. Though they look similar, the governor was quick to point out that hemp is not marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the same plant species, but hemp does not contain high levels of THC, the chemical that makes marijuana a controlled substance.

“Much of our knowledge about how to grow, process and use hemp was lost after industrial hemp was regulated and banned along with marijuana in the 1930s,” Wolf said. “And Pennsylvania lost the benefits of an industry with a long history of providing jobs and resources here in the commonwealth. When hemp and marijuana were banned, we didn’t just lose jobs, we lost decades of research opportunities, innovation and economic growth.”

The governor was joined by Representative Maureen Madden and hemp farmer Eric Titus White.

White described how his hemp farm has provided him with economic opportunities along with a chance to literally put down roots in his home state of Pennsylvania.

“The cannabis plant is capable of stimulating our economy, healing our soil, and bringing the focus back to natural medicine and natural farming,” White said.

“I fully support the administration’s efforts to introduce the legalization of adult recreational cannabis in such a way that invests much-needed financial resources in our underserved communities and enacts restorative justice programs throughout the Commonwealth,” Rep. Madden said.

Monroe County Senator John Blake offered his support for adult-use cannabis legalization.

“I appreciate the work of the Governor and the Lt. Governor to gauge public support for the legalization of adult use cannabis and also to weigh the potential economic benefit of legalization in PA,” Blake said. “Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has proven to be among the best in the nation and I believe strongly that many of the protocols, regimens and controls could be replicated to ensure positive economic benefit and proper regulation of adult-use cannabis in our Commonwealth.”

Along with stressing that legalizing adult-use cannabis will create economic growth opportunities, the governor focused on how cannabis criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities in Pennsylvania, and contributed to economic harm and trauma in historically disadvantaged areas of the state.

“Every year in Pennsylvania, another 20,000 people get cannabis-related criminal charges that can keep them from getting the jobs and housing they want,” said Lt. Gov. Fetterman. “It’s time we stop ruining people’s futures over something that’s already legal in several states and something that most Pennsylvanians don’t even think should be illegal.”

“We are taking steps to reverse the injustices caused by marijuana criminalization,” Gov. Wolf said. “In 2018, I signed the Clean Slate bill, which allows for the sealing of records for certain low-level offenses if a person has been free from convictions for ten years. That law can be applied to certain marijuana-related offenses, and the Board of Pardons has expedited pardons for low-level marijuana offenses. But there is much more that needs to be done to reverse decades of injustice. And we need to start by decriminalizing cannabis and legalizing it for adult use.”

Office of Marijuana Policy Unveils New Details On Planned Launch Of Adult Use Marijuana In Maine

Retail sales to the public permitted to begin on or after October 9, 2020.

MAINE: The Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, unveiled plans for the issuance of Maine’s first active licenses for adult use marijuana establishments. The Office intends to issue the first active licenses to recreational cannabis businesses on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Retail sales of adult use marijuana to consumers 21 years of age or older will be permitted starting on Friday, October 9, 2020.

The issuance of active licenses will continue the Office of Marijuana Policy’s structured rollout of Maine’s nascent adult use industry, which had been indefinitely postponed in April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The public’s health and safety are at the forefront of every decision we make at the Office of Marijuana Policy,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “While we were poised to launch this new industry earlier this year, we were unwilling to sacrifice the high standards we have set for this program by launching during an emerging public health pandemic and in the absence of a testing facility. With the support of the public health community, municipalities across the state, and the industry we regulate, we have used the last few months to ensure this new industry is introduced to Maine consumers in a manner that is as responsible as possible.”

Active licensure is the culmination of a three-step application process which also includes conditional licensure and local authorization, respectively. An active license is required for adult use establishments to come into possession, process and sell adult use marijuana, including initiating plant transfers from Maine’s existing medical marijuana program.

It is expected adult use licensees will utilize the time between active licensure and Maine’s retail sales launch date to harvest and process marijuana, ensure those products satisfy the mandatory testing requirements, and move product through the supply chain to stock retail store shelves. Additionally, businesses which will conduct retail sales will prepare to implement and support social distancing and other public health guidance at a time when public interest may attract a significant consumer presence to their retail locations.

“Today’s announcement is a major milestone in honoring the will of Maine voters and a significant step toward launching a new industry in the state,” added Gundersen. “Many of the business owners we have spoken with during the application process are ready and eager to commence operations.”

The application process required by the adult use law requires state regulators to review application materials for form and substance, with an eye toward details such as ensuring that all applicants have completed their required state and federal criminal history record checks; that the establishment’s operation, facility, and security plans satisfy the requirements of both the Marijuana Legalization Act and the adult use program rule; and that the designated host municipality has provided the applicant with authorization to conduct business in their community.

OMP expects to issue licenses in each of the four categories of adult use establishments: cultivation, products manufacturing, retail sale, and testing. Information on the specific number of licenses issued and the identities of active licensees will be made available on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

The Mills Administration created OMP within DAFS in February 2019. The Office is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine’s existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

New York: Cuomo Administration To Back Adult Use Marijuana Bill

NEW YORK: A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that creating a framework for legalizing adult marijuana use is among the administration’s 2019 legislative priorities.

“The goal of this administration is to create a model program for regulated adult-use marijuana – and we determined the best way to do that was to ensure our final proposal captures the views of everyday New Yorkers,” said Tyrone Stevens, a spokesperson for the Governor. “Now that the listening sessions have concluded, the working group has begun accessing and reviewing the feedback we received and we expect to introduce a formal comprehensive proposal during the 2019 legislative session.”

In July, a Health Department study commissioned by the Governor’s office recommended legalizing adult marijuana use and commerce. It concluded: “A regulated marijuana program enjoys broad support and would have significant health, social justice, and economic benefits. … Regulating marijuana enables public health officials to minimize the potential risks of marijuana use through outreach, education, quantity limits at point of sale, quality control, and consumer protection. … The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative impacts.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit Empire State NORML.

New Hampshire: Taxing, Regulating Adult Use Cannabis Market Would Yield $58 Million In New Annual Revenue

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Regulating New Hampshire’s existing adult use cannabis market would yield as much as $58 million per year in new annual revenue, according to an analysis authored by the state’s Department of Revenue.

Analysts’ estimates are based upon the application of a 15 percent tax rate on commercial transactions. The Department’s report was provided to the state’s Commission to Study the Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana – which is preparing to make recommendations to the legislature this November.

Members of the New Hampshire House initially voted in favor of legalization legislation in January by a vote of 207 to 139 before ultimately deciding in favor of appointing an interim study committee in March. Lawmakers decriminalized low-level marijuana possession offenses last year.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.