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.”

***

“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 YORK: Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis

Legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) Establishes the Office of Cannabis Management; Expands New York’s Existing Medical Marijuana Program; Establishes a Licensing System; and Creates a Social and Economic Equity Program Encouraging Individuals Disproportionately Impacted by Cannabis Enforcement to Participate in Industry

Tax Collection Projected to Reach $350 Million Annually and Potentially Create 30,000 to 60,000 Jobs

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) legalizing adult-use cannabis, fulfilling a key component of his 2021 State of the State agenda. The bill signing comes after the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced this past Sunday, March 28, that an agreement had been reached on the legislation. The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill also expands New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.

The development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York State under this legislation has the potential to create significant economic opportunities for New Yorkers and the State. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Additionally, there is the potential for this new industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.

“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.” Governor Cuomo said. “This was one of my top priorities in this year’s State of the State agenda and I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis. I thank both the Leader and the Speaker, and the tireless advocacy of so many for helping make today’s historic day possible.”

“Today, New York stepped up and took transformative action to end the prohibition of adult-use marijuana,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “This legislation is a momentous first step in addressing the racial disparities caused by the war on drugs that has plagued our state for too long. This effort was years in the making and we have finally achieved what many thought was impossible, a bill that legalizes marijuana while standing up for social equity, enhancing education and protecting public safety. I applaud Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for their commitment and leadership on this issue.”

“Passage of this bill will mean not just legalizing marijuana, but also investing in education and our communities, and it brings to an end decades of disproportionately targeting people of color under state and federal drug laws,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “I thank Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for her years of advocacy and efforts to make this bill a reality. My colleagues and I knew it was important to do this the right way – in a way that would include those targeted and frequently excluded from the process. Now, this legal industry will create jobs across our state, including for those who have had their lives upended by years of unjust drug laws.”

“I’m extremely humbled, proud and honored to have passed the historic Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act with my partners in government Senator Liz Krueger and Governor Cuomo. This social justice initiative will provide equity to positively transform disenfranchised communities of color for the better,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “I believe this bill can serve as a blue print for future states seeking inclusive cannabis legalization. I would be remiss not to thank all of my family, colleagues, advocates and supporters over 8 long years.”

The Governor has included legalizing adult-use cannabis in his last three budget proposals.

The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act contains the following provisions:

Establish the Office of Cannabis Management
The Office of Cannabis Management will be charged with enforcing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing medical, adult-use cannabinoid hemp. It will be governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the Governor and one appointment by each house. OCM will be an independent office operating as part of the New York State Liquor Authority.

Medical Cannabis
The legislation will allow people with a larger list of medical conditions to access medical marijuana, increase the number of caregivers allowed per patient, and permit home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients.

Adult-Use Cannabis
The legislation will create a two-tier licensing structure that will allow for a large range of producers by separating those growers and processors from also owning retail stores. The legislation creates licenses for producers and distributors, among other entities, and the legislation will implement strict quality control, public health and consumer protections. A social and economic equity program will facilitate individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis enforcement, including creating a goal of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman owned business enterprise, or distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry.

The Bill implements a new cannabis tax structure that will replace a weight-based tax with a tax per mg of THC at the distributor level with different rates depending on final product type. The wholesale excise tax will be moved to the retail level with a 9 percent state excise tax. The local excise tax rate will be 4 percent of the retail price. Counties will receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue and 75 percent will go to the municipality.

Cannabinoid Hemp
The legislation permits the sale of hemp flower in the cannabinoid hemp program, and allows for smokeable forms only when adult use retail stores are operational.

Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue
All cannabis taxes will be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program and implement the law. The remaining funding will be split three ways:

  • 40 Percent to Education
  • 40 Percent to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
  • 20 Percent to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund

Municipal Opt-Out
Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.

Traffic Safety
The New York State Department of Health will work with institutions of higher education to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving. After completion of the research study, DOH may create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of cannabis in drivers.

The legislation includes additional funding for drug recognition experts and law enforcement to ensure safe roadways.

The use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited and will carry the same penalties as it does currently.

Personal Possession and Home Cultivation
The following conditions apply to growing cannabis at home and personal possession of cannabis outside the home:

  • Personal possession outside of the home: up to 3 ounces cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Home possession: amends limits of what is permitted in the home, which must be kept in a secure location away from children
  • Home grow: permitted under the bill subject to possession limits in 18 months after first adult-use sales begin for adult recreational use and subject to regulations of the Medical Program being promulgated no sooner than 6 months:
    • 3 mature plants and 3 immature plants for adults over 21
      • 6 mature plants and 6 immature plants maximum per household

Criminal Justice and Record Expungement
The cannabis penalty framework will be restructured to avoid the criminalization seen in prohibition. Reduced penalties will be implemented for possession and sale.

  • Creates automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law and provides necessary funding
  • Adds cannabis to the clean indoor air act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be smoked or vaped
  • Municipalities and local governments are permitted to make laws that are more restrictive than the CIAA. Contains various provisions to ensure that cannabis is treated as a lawful substance and to prevent discriminatory enforcement

Protections for the Use of Cannabis and Workplace Safety
Unlawful discrimination will be prohibited and workplace safety protections will be implemented.

Public Health and Education Campaign
OCM will establish a robust public health and education campaign and work with neighboring states and associations to coordinate actions and policies to protect regional health and safety.

This legislation builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study, which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Cannabis Has A New Channel Connecting To 250 Million Televisions – In The United States Alone

New streaming media platform gives cannabis companies their best opportunity yet to showcase their brands and reach consumers all around the world through television, online, and mobile apps

NEW YORK: “A New Cannabis Channel” (ANCC), a far-reaching streaming television platform, is set to premiere next month on 4/20, the cannabis industry’s biggest day. The official channel name will be unveiled along with other exciting news in the weeks before the channel bows. Available on the most popular ways people find, consume and engage with content, ANCC offers unprecedented reach and exposure for cannabis, hemp and CBD brands.

ANCC is premiering globally on six television streaming services including Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TV and LG Channels – services connected to 250 million televisions in just the United States alone. The channel will also be available online and accompanied by mobile apps for Android, iPhone, Amazon Mobile and Kindle.

 

“From the outside looking in, people may think that the cannabis industry is thriving, but there is still a lot of opportunity that has been out of reach,” said Dan Herer, of iconic Jack Herer™ Brands. “The cannabis industry needs to educate the marketplace, and cannabis businesses need a place to showcase their brands. By providing education through entertainment, A New Cannabis Channel blends the solution to these two challenges, opening the marketplace to tens of millions of people around the world like nothing else that is available.”

 

Despite the continuous march toward cannabis legalization in the United States – most recently with New Jersey and Virginia approving adult-use cannabis sales – the ability for brands to find and nurture large audiences remains limited, fractured and increasingly more complicated. Each state has its own regulatory framework, as do many localities, often constricting the manner and message that cannabis brands can use to reach target audiences. ANCC pierces through the complexity and restrictive regulations, offering cannabis businesses the best opportunity yet to advertise, build brand awareness and engage consumers.

With thousands of hours of high-quality video entertainment content, ANCC is empowered by 420MEDIA, which achieved historic firsts by airing 30-second cannabis commercial spots during prime-time programming on networks including BRAVO, Discovery and the History Channel, and the first-ever cannabis ads to air during an NFL Super Bowl. Viewers tuning into ANCC will see flagship series:

  • “5th Quarter” – Hosted by Super Bowl champion Marvin Washington, “5th Quarter” brings a new and higher standard to those seeking information about cannabis from the sports industry.
  • “Nurse Talk” – Cannabis personality “Nurse Heather” Manus, RN introduces important topics about medical cannabis in conversations with medical professionals and patients.
  • “Faces of Cannabis” – Profiling the biggest names in the cannabis industry including pioneers and the people building cannabis into a thriving industry.

 

“People don’t know where to buy, what to buy or how to use cannabis, and those are real problems we solve providing education through entertainment,” said Kerri Accardi, founder of 420MEDIA and the driving force behind A New Cannabis Channel. “Using engaging entertainment to solve the information problem opens new opportunities for cannabis brands, through advertising and product placements. We’re taking this solution even farther by using technology to make calls to action immediately accessible with the tap of a finger. The channel is free to watch, and brands can take full advantage of promotional opportunities for less than their trade show swag budgets.”

 

Leveraging the full internet-based streaming television feature set, advertising takes on a new look as brands are embedded and easily discoverable in every episode. Combined with permanently placed QR codes, viewers instantly leap from programming to product by tapping the screen of their mobile devices. Add-ons extend the reach of advertising with physical world promotional opportunities. And that is only the tip of the branding iceberg created by ANCC.

To get a sneak peek at ANCC streaming content visit its YouTube channel https://bit.ly/3bNDrcO.

Limited advertising and promotional opportunities remain for the 4/20 premiere. Cannabis, hemp and CBD brands interested in joining ANCC advertisers such as Jack Herer™ Brands, Curved Papers, and Chapman Health and Wellness should contact Mark Nockels at mark@anewcannabischannel.com.

“A New Cannabis Channel not only has the opportunity to dispel falsehoods and fiction of cannabis in all its forms, but the responsibility to expose the truth and facts long hidden and even removed from our understanding,” adds Herer. “This channel will not just show us how to survive in this future, but thrive in it. The truth is out: cannabis is the future.”

Representatives Blumenauer and Lee Urge President Biden to Pardon Federal Cannabis Offenses

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Today, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, led 35 lawmakers in urging President Joe Biden to use executive clemency to pardon individuals convicted of federal cannabis offenses.

“Until the day that Congress sends you a marijuana reform bill to sign, you have a unique ability to lead on criminal justice reform and provide immediate relief to thousands of Americans,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent to the president. “We urge you to grant executive clemency for all non-violent cannabis offenders.”

The lawmakers stressed that discriminatory cannabis policies have perpetuated systemic racism in America for decades, citing a 2020 report issued by the ACLU that found that Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable usage rates.

“During your previous tenure at the White House, President Obama understood that decades of harsh and discriminatory federal drug laws unfairly trapped minority individuals and communities in cycles of despair. That is why he used the tools of justice to grant clemency for 1,927 individuals convicted of federal crimes,” the lawmakers continued. “Your Administration has the power to expand on end this legacy and issue a general pardon to all former federal, non-violent cannabis offenders in the U.S and trigger resentencing for all those who remain federally incarcerated on non-violent, cannabis-only offenses for activity now legal under state laws.”

In their letter to President Biden Thursday, the lawmakers also noted that their request is not a partisan issue. Every president since George H.W. Bush has exercised their pardoning power for cannabis offenses.

This push from lawmakers comes after Americans in five more states voted overwhelmingly to liberalize their cannabis policies during the November elections and the U.S. House of Representatives took the historic step of passing the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act in December.

“President Biden’s leadership on issuing pardons to nonviolent federal marijuana offenders would demonstrate a down payment on his campaign promise to prioritize criminal justice reform and similarly inspire similar justice-oriented actions in a non-partisan fashion around the country,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Shortly after President Biden’s election, the House of Representatives voted to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. Now in a new legislative session, President Biden should follow their lead and move to immediately provide relief to those who continue to suffer from a criminal record for a nonviolent federal marijuana offense. We are tremendously grateful for the leadership of the Cannabis Caucus, particularly Representatives Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, as they tirelessly lead this ongoing but hopefully soon to be finished fight for marijuana justice nationwide.”

In addition to Blumenauer and Lee, the letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Adriano Espaillat, Bonnie Watson Coleman, James McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, Jesús “Chuy” García, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rashida Tlaib, Danny K. Davis, Alan Lowenthal, Alcee Hastings, David Trone, Mark Pocan, Carolyn Maloney, Peter Welch, Dwight Evans, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Ed Perlmutter, Mondaire Jones, Zoe Lofgren, Ro Khanna, J. Luis Correa, Brenda Lawrence, Charlie Crist, Dean Phillips, Jamaal Bowman, Steven Horsford, Henry “Hank” Johnson, Jake Auchincloss, Raúl Grijalva, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.

Governor Cuomo Announces 30-Day Amendments to Legislation Establishing Comprehensive Adult-Use Cannabis Program in New York

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced 30-day amendments to the Governor’s proposal to establish a comprehensive adult-use cannabis program in New York. Specifically, these amendments will detail how the $100 Million in Social Equity funding will be allocated, enable the use of delivery services, and refine which criminal charges will be enforced as it relates to the improper sale of cannabis to further reduce the impact on communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.

“As we work to reimagine, rebuild and reopen New York, we’re taking every opportunity to address and correct decades of institutional wrongs to build back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “We know that you cannot overcome a problem without first admitting there is one. Our comprehensive approach to legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provides the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also enables us to directly support the communities most impacted by the war on drugs by creating equity and jobs at every level, in every community in our great state.”

Allocation of $100 Million Cannabis Social Equity Fund

Social and economic equity are the bedrock of Governor Cuomo’s proposal to legalize cannabis for adult-use and as part of that, the Governor’s proposal includes a $100 million dollar fund to help revitalize communities that have been most harmed by the war on drugs.

Through this fund, qualified community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments would apply for funding to support a number of different community revitalization efforts, including, but not limited to:

  • Job placement and skills services,
  • Adult education,
  • Mental health treatment,
  • Substance use disorder treatment,
  • Housing,
  • Financial literacy,
  • Community banking,
  • Nutrition services,
  • Services to address adverse childhood experiences,
  • Afterschool and child care services, system navigation services,
  • Legal services to address barriers to reentry, and
  • Linkages to medical care, women’s health services and other community-based supportive services

The grants from this program may also be used to further support the social and economic equity program.

Under the amended proposal, the Department of State would allocate the funding, through grants administered by Empire State Development Corporation, in collaboration with the departments of Labor and Health, as well as with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and the offices of Addiction Services and Supports and Children and Family Services. Final allocations and administration of funding would also be contingent upon approval from the Division of the Budget.

Enabling the Use of Delivery Services

The legalization of cannabis is expected to play an important role in helping rebuild New York’s economy following the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, legalization is projected to create more than 60,000 new jobs, and spur $3.5 billion in economic activity while generating an estimated $350 million in tax revenue once fully implemented.

Cannabis legalization also has the potential to have a significant economic benefit on distressed areas in New York, providing employment opportunities for all levels of the workforce. As social and economic equity are the bedrock of Governor Cuomo’s proposal, delivery services offer a low-cost entry point into the industry, particularly in communities which have been especially impacted by the war on drugs.

Recognizing this, the Governor is amending his proposal to allow for the permitting of delivery services as a way to open up access to this new industry even further so more New Yorkers can participate as it grows. As part of this, local governments would have the opportunity to opt out from delivery services occurring within their jurisdiction.

Criminality of Improper Sales

When establishing a new product market as the Governor’s proposal does, there will inevitably be attempts by bad actors to skirt rules and commit fraud for their own financial gain. This makes it critically important to ensure that penalties are carefully calibrated to ensure that all those who wish to participate in this new market, are operating on the same level playing field.

Cannabis, however, adds another complicating factor to this dynamic – years of outdated policies stemming from the War on Drugs have disproportionately impacted communities of color. Already, New York has taken steps to decriminalize cannabis and as this new market is realized, and it’s critical that criminal penalties are thoughtfully assigned, as to ensure that the progress which has already been made, is not inadvertently reversed.

As such, under the Governor’s amended proposal, specific penalties will be reduced as follows:

  • Criminal sale in the third degree (sale to under 21 year old) will be made a class A misdemeanor
  • Criminal sale in the second degree (sale of over 16 ounces or 80 grams of concentrate) will be made a class E felony
  • Criminal sale in the first degree (sale of over 64 ounces or 320 grams of concentrate) will be made a class D felony

The Governor’s proposal builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the Governor’s proposal reflects national standards and emerging best practices to promote responsible use, limiting the sale of cannabis products to adults 21 and over and establishing stringent quality and safety controls including strict regulation of the packaging, labeling, advertising, and testing of all cannabis products. Cannabis regulation also offers the opportunity to invest in research and direct resources to communities that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Wisconsin Gov. Evers Proposes Legalizing Marijuana, Investing Portion of Revenue in Equity Initiatives and Rural Schools

Governor’s proposal regulates and taxes marijuana much like alcohol, generates more than $165 million annually beginning in Fiscal Year 2023

WISCONSIN:  Gov. Tony Evers today announced his 2021-23 biennial budget proposes regulating and taxing marijuana much like Wisconsin regulates and taxes alcohol. Under the proposal, Wisconsin would join 15 other states, including neighboring Michigan and Illinois, in legalizing recreational marijuana. The governor’s 21-23 budget proposal will increase revenue, create jobs, and reduce criminal justice system costs, while providing a pathway for those suffering from chronic or debilitating pain and illness to utilize the medicine they require.

“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin—just like we do already with alcohol—ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state,” said Gov. Evers. “Frankly, red and blue states across the country have moved forward with legalization and there is no reason Wisconsin should be left behind when we know it’s supported by a majority of Wisconsinites.”

In 2019, a Marquette University Law Poll found that nearly 60 percent of Wisconsinites support the legalization of marijuana and 83 percent of Wisconsinites support the legalization of medical marijuana. The governor’s 19-21 biennial budget proposed legalizing medical marijuana, which was ultimately rejected by Republicans in the Legislature.

Legalizing marijuana is expected to generate more than $165 million annually beginning in the second year of the biennium (Fiscal Year (FY) 23). The governor proposes setting aside $80 million of the revenue generated by marijuana to reinvest in communities across the state through a new Community Reinvestment Fund. Beginning in FY23, the Community Reinvestment Fund will fund $30 million in equity grants through the Department of Health Services, the Department of Administration, and the Department of Children and Families, respectively; $5 million to fund grants to underserved communities through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; and provide more than $34 million to support sparsity aid, which goes to small, rural school districts. The remaining revenue would be deposited into the state’s general fund.

Under the governor’s proposal, marijuana would be taxed and regulated much like alcohol, and would be regulated by both the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. The proposal would require the sale of marijuana for recreational use to be sold by a marijuana retailer holding a permit issued by the DOR. Individuals would need to be 21 years of age to purchase marijuana for recreational use. All sales of recreational marijuana to minors would be prohibited. The plan also provides a path for medical marijuana users to access the product without paying retail taxes.

There are certain limits placed on the sale and possession of marijuana under the proposal. Wisconsin residents can possess no more than two ounces of marijuana and six plants for personal use. Nonresidents can possess no more than 0.25 ounces of marijuana. Under the proposal, no marijuana processor or micro-business that operates as a marijuana processor may make usable marijuana using marijuana grown outside of Wisconsin.

Senators Booker, Wyden, Schumer Joint Statement on Cannabis Reform Legislation

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued the following joint statement regarding comprehensive cannabis reform legislation in the 117th Congress:

“The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.

“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations. Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”

House Approves Blumenauer’s Medical Marijuana Research Act

Legislation removes barriers to much-needed research on health benefits of marijuana.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:Today (12/9/2020), the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Medical Marijuana Research Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD) to address burdensome impediments to legitimate medical research.

Although 99 percent of Americans now live in a state with some form of legalized marijuana, current federal law greatly limits researchers’ ability to study the health benefits of cannabis. Current barriers include the overly burdensome registration process, redundant protocol reviews, lack of adequate research material, and unnecessarily onerous security requirements.

“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research. It’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or any other substance. But we do not have a good test for impairment because we can’t study it … This is insane and we need to change it,” Blumenauer said today on the House floor. “At a time when there are four million registered medical cannabis patients, and many more likely self-medicate, when there are 91 percent of Americans supporting medical cannabis, it’s time to change the system. Our bill will do precisely that.”

While the United States leads the world in biomedical research, research on cannabis lags far behind. A 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found that “research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids has been limited in the United States, leaving patients, health care professionals, and policy makers without the evidence they need to make sound decisions regarding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids.”

The Medical Marijuana Research Act will address these limitations by:

  • Providing a pathway for researchers to study the cannabis products consumers are using from state-legal programs.
  • Streamlining the burdensome and often duplicative license process for researchers seeking to conduct marijuana research, while still maintaining all necessary safeguards against misuse and abuse.
  • Addressing the woefully inadequate, both in quantity and quality, supply of medical-grade marijuana available for use in such research.
  • Requiring a report by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the status and results of new research on marijuana benefits.

This was the second vote held by the U.S. House of Representatives in the past week on Blumenauer’s federal cannabis reform priorities, following the passage of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act on Friday, December 4.

The full text of the Medical Marijuana Research Act can be found here.

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.

How To Make and Cook With THC Coconut Oil

Making and cooking with THC coconut oil is not as difficult as it may sound. It is a nifty way to consume cannabis. You can bake cannabis coconut oil into different types of edibles or take it alone. Most cannabis strains complement the flavor of coconut oil. You can use Sativa, Indica, or other higher CBD strains of cannabis to get your desired effect. However, you will often need a canna-butter while cooking with cannabis.

If you have certain dietary restrictions or follow a vegan lifestyle, butter may not be an option for you. Fortunately, when it comes to binding to different types of plant or animal-based fats, cannabis does not discriminate. CBD and THC molecules tether easily to fat molecules since they are fat-soluble and lipophilic. In other words, they dissolve in fats quite easily. When you bind cannabis in this manner, you will enhance its benefits more than when you use alcohol or water bases.

Making THC coconut oil is very easy. It is also a great way to use up hash, kief, or trim from harvest. It is not necessary to overcomplicate the process or simmer it for a long time. The method outlined below will give you fancy, tasty, and potent cannabis coconut oil.

What You Will Need

To begin with, you will need a large measuring cup or bowl, cheesecloth, bowl to store the THC coconut oil, and sieve. You will also need two cups of unrefined coconut oil and 40 grams of decarboxylated cannabis. You can learn how to decarboxylate cannabis by doing a simple Google search.

Dosing, Strains, and Expectations

1.5 grams of trim per one tablespoon of cannabis coconut oil is quite a strong dose. It is ideal for people who suffer from frequent migraines, which require a stronger dose. You can use anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 grams of hash, bud, or trim per tablespoon of coconut oil. If this is your first time making and cooking with THC coconut oil, 16 grams of cannabis to two cups of coconut oil should serve you well.

If you prefer to use buds instead of trim, using a bit less is okay. This is because there will be more trichomes, which translates to more THC. Therefore, if you choose to use buds in the batch above, you should probably use 0.5 grams of buds for each tablespoon of coconut oil.

If you choose to take cannabis orally, it can take quite a while to feel it. However, the effects will probably linger for much longer. Cannabis coconut oil, on the other hand, it very potent and will likely make you sleepy. Therefore, if you have obligations later, do not take a new dose. Alternatively, you can use only Sativas in your coconut oil to combat sleepiness.

Combine the Cannabis and Coconut Oil and Simmer

Combine the coconut oil and cannabis in a saucepan and simmer over the lowest heat possible. Once the oil melts, let the mixture simmer for an hour while stirring every so often. If it turns out not green at all or too green, it is okay. The color does not have anything to do with the strength of cannabis coconut oil.

You need to use your cheesecloth in a sieve to strain the mixture over your measuring cup. Pour the hot mixture into the cheesecloth and let it drip for about an hour. Afterward, squeeze the rest out by hand. Finally, pour the THC coconut oil into a bowl or glass jar and leave it uncovered to cool. Once it is cool, close the container and store it in a cool dark place or the refrigerator.

Cooking With THC Coconut Oil

If this is your first time using THC coconut oil, try taking a tiny amount by mouth to test its potency. Before taking any more, however, you will need to wait at least three to four hours. This will help you get a baseline for how to use it on food and whether you need to increase or decrease the dose.

If you choose to cook with THC coconut oil, you should use recipes you are familiar with. Knowing how many slices of cake, muffins, or cookies that your recipe produces will help you figure out how much of the cannabis coconut oil you need to use per serving. If you need your edibles to be less potent, you can use half butter and half THC oil.