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.

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.

 

Metrc Awarded Oklahoma Seed To Sale Contract

OKLAHOMA: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has signed a contract with Metrc, a national company in 14 states, for the implementation of a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system. The contract creates a system to track marijuana plants and products from a plant’s growth stage through sale to patients. It serves as part of OMMA’s larger efforts to ensure accountability and safety within the state’s medical marijuana industry.

OSDH Names Twelve Member Medical Marijuana Food Safety Standards Board –

OMMA Interim Director Dr. Kelly Williams said “The seed-to-sale system will greatly expand our compliance capabilities and improve the effectiveness and speed of any future recall efforts. It will also allow us to detect unusual patterns that may indicate product diversion.”

Metrc offers integration features with many seed-to-sale software systems used at an individual-level by licensees, and all commercial licensees in the state will be required to either integrate with or input their information into the state’s seed-to-sale system.

Dr. Williams added, “We know that businesses will have many questions in the coming weeks, and we will answer them as quickly as possible.” OMMA will also keep the public updated as the system is implemented. It is expected to take up to six months.

Gov. Polis Releases Statement On Passage Of Continuing Resolution Including Farm Bill & Hemp Pilot Program Extension

COLORADO:  Gov. Jared Polis released the following statement on the final passage of the Federal Continuing Resolution including an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill which also includes the Hemp Pilot Program.

“We worked closely with our federal delegation to ensure this provision to extend the 2014 Farm Bill and the hemp act was included in this Continuing Resolution. Colorado is a national leader in the hemp industry and I’m glad to see this bill be signed into law as it gives our farmers and ranchers from the Eastern Plains, to the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and everywhere in between more support, and gives Colorado more time to work with the USDA on our state’s hemp framework. This is a great step forward and we will continue working to grow the industry in Colorado.”

NJ Department Of Health Issues Permit To Grow Medical Marijuana

NEW JERSEY: The New Jersey Department of Health issued last month a permit to Justice Grown in Ewing to begin growing medical marijuana. The permit was issued after a comprehensive review including several site inspections, background checks of its corporate officers and a review of its security operations and cultivation facility.

“As our program continues to grow, the Department wants to ensure that we also continue to increase access for all patients,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “This new permit brings the total number of operational medical marijuana cultivation sites in the state to 12.”

Justice Grown is the last Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) to receive a cultivation permit among the awards made by the Division of Medicinal Marijuana in December 2018. Earlier this year, the Division issued cultivation permits to Verano in Readington, MPX NJ in Pleasantville, TerrAscend in Boonton Township, and Columbia Care NJ in Vineland.

Once Justice Grown receives its permit to dispense, the Division will notify the patients and caregivers by email of the opening date.  Justice Grown’s dispensary will also be located in Ewing.

There are nine ATCs currently dispensing medical marijuana: Greenleaf Compassion Center of Montclair, Compassionate Care Foundation of Egg Harbor, Garden State Dispensary of Woodbridge and Union Township, Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center of Cranbury, Curaleaf NJ, Inc. in Bellmawr, Harmony Dispensary in Secaucus and Rise in Paterson and Compassionate Care Foundation of Atlantic City.

Program participation continues to grow. There are now 75,468 patients, 2,949 caregivers and 1,149 physicians participating in the program.

Patients and caregivers can visit the Division’s website if they choose to change their preferred ATC. The change can also be made by calling the Customer Service Unit of the Division of Medicinal Marijuana at 844-419-9712 and does not require changing ID cards.

Patients can refer to the FAQ section of the Division of Medicinal Marijuana website for additional information. Active physicians enrolled in the program are listed by county and medical specialty.

New Jersey residents interested in registering for Medicinal Marijuana can click here.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram@njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

For more information, visit our homepage at nj.gov/health.

Sanjay Gupta Gives Late Night Comedians Some Great Material (VIDEOS)

Dr. Sanjay Gupta came out in favor of marijuana last week, bringing America to the tipping point for marijuana legal reform in America.  The MJ News Network is expecting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to make a major announcement later this week.  Our resident psychic and staff magician, Doctor Mentallo, is predicting the AG will announce that marijuana will no longer be classified as the most dangerous drug in America under the Controlled Substances Act. Stay tuned to this network to see our own good doctor is indeed correct. [Read more…]