Ohio Board Of Pharmacy Updated Patient & Caregiver Numbers For December 2020

OHIO:  The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today published updated patient & caregiver numbers for December 2020. These numbers include:

  • 214,916 Recommendations
  • 160,228 Registered patients
    • 10,938 Patients with Veteran Status
    • 11,591 Patients with Indigent Status
    • 861 Patients with a Terminal Diagnosis
  • 139,458 Unique patients who purchased medical marijuana (as reported to OARRS by licensed dispensaries)
  • 18,211 Registered CaregiversFor the full list of program numbers, please visit the Program Update page.

California Cannabis Authorities Publish Proposed Regulations to Facilitate Financial Services for Cannabis Businesses

CALIFORNIA: The California state cannabis licensing authorities—Bureau of Cannabis Control, California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Department of Public Health—provided notice to the public of proposed emergency regulations to implement the provisions of Assembly Bill 1525 (Jones–Sawyer, 2020). The proposed regulations are intended to facilitate greater access to financial services for licensed cannabis businesses that face challenges obtaining banking, insurance and other financial services commonly available to other businesses.

The proposed regulations create a pathway for licensees to authorize sharing of non-public information with selected financial institutions and provide a mechanism for financial institutions to more readily conduct the federally required reviews of the cannabis business. By reducing the burden of providing financial services to cannabis businesses, more financial institutions may be willing to provide services, thereby reducing the need to keep cash on hand and improving public safety.

The proposed regulatory text and supporting documents can be viewed at the following links:

Following the required minimum five working-day notice to the public, the licensing authorities will file the emergency regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The five calendar-day formal public comment period will begin when OAL publishes the proposed regulations as being “under review” on its website.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Licensing Director Message: Marijuana Licensing Streamlining Update

January 8, 2021

A Phased Approach

Early in 2020 because interest to enter Oregon’s expanding recreational marijuana market continued to grow, it became clear that we needed a new approach for processing marijuana license applications. In response, my staff and I conducted a program evaluation in March 2020, to identify opportunities for improvement throughout the licensing program. Aside from the need for our staffing resources to grow to match the industry’s requirements (which we will continue to address with our legislative partners) we developed a formal year-long improvement strategy outlined below in three phases.

Phase 1: Streamlined license renewal process (Complete)

This included reducing the complexity of renewal applications, making licensing system updates and updating internal processes regarding renewals. Improvements to our renewal system went live August 4, 2020.

Outcome: Marijuana license renewals process times have been reduced from an average of 347 days from submission in Q4 2019, to 156 days from submission in Q4 2020. Current licensees should realize these improvements at their next renewal period occurring after August 4, 2020.

 

Phase 2: Removal of Pre-licensing Inspections and streamlining workflows (Complete)

In April 2020, the Commission eliminated the requirement to conduct pre-licensing onsite inspections before issuing a license, and during last summer we made improvements to licensing workflows by reducing redundant routine reviews of work and providing more empowerment to staff. Our evaluation showed this was taking as much as 40-50% of the processing time for new applications; these improvements removed that constraint.

Outcome: Marijuana license application process times from assignment have been reduced from an average of 168 days in Q4 2019 to the average of 61 days in Q4 2020.

 

Phase 3: Entrusting the Industry (Complete)

The overall philosophy of this change was rethinking how we address marijuana licensing. Specifically, phase 3 changes reduced the level of scrutiny for applicants who have already been vetted and previously licensed. Further, the agency reassigned personnel and added contract workers to solely focus on licensing activity. The Commission also approved “streamlining licensing,” rule changes at our October 15, 2020 Commission meeting.

Outcome: License application processing times approved during the month of December 2020, averaged 54 days from the date of assignment. These tangible changes have reduced the back and forth between applicants and the Commission.

 

The Readiness Checklist: Who’s ready? Who’s not?

In addition, we’ve implemented a new process to provide us more insight into applicants within our applicant pool by utilizing a request for assignment form (aka “The Readiness Checklist”). This process helps identify a marijuana license applicant’s desire to be assigned and enables them to self-determine their readiness to complete the license process within the required 60 day period.

As of November 16, 2020, my staff has reached out to all 881 “pre-pause” applicants, to determine their desire and readiness to be assigned. Pre-pause applicants include applications submitted prior to the June 15, 2018, pause on processing licenses. As of January 5, 2021, we have:

  • 319 or approximately 36% of the 881 applications are ready to be assigned
  • 360 or approximately 40% of applicants have said they are not ready
  • These applicants have delayed assignment by an average of 5 months.
  • 139 applicants not respond at all.
  • 49 application withdrawals.
  • The remaining 14 are in process.

As of January 6, 2021, we have assigned all applicants who’ve requested to be assigned as of that date. Additionally, as we receive requests for assignments, now we are consistently able to assign applications within two to four weeks of receiving the request for assignment form.

In addition to this progress on new marijuana license applications, we have been able to reduce the time it takes to assign change requests (e.g. location, ownership, etc.) from four to six months in Q3 2019, to approximately two months in Q3 2020. Moving forward, while we further refine our processes, our standard is to be able to assign these requests within 60 days of receiving them.

Regarding the non-responsive applicants, we’ve reached out to each one and subsequently followed up with those applicants prior to December 12, 2020 in order to provide a final opportunity for them to respond before inactivating their application.

Industry members and applicants should ensure they are monitoring any communications from the Commission and double check that the contact information affiliated with the license application is up to date.

 

The New Year: What’s next?

Earlier this year, OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks committed to reducing the backlog of license applications by one third by February 1, 2021; at the time he made that pledge that meant reducing our application pool by a total of 350 applications. The progress we have demonstrated leads me to believe we will meet, or come close to, accomplishing that goal. Should we not be able to, this will be in large part due to the number of applicants who’ve indicated they’re not ready to be assigned. As mentioned above, we are assigning applications within two to four weeks of receiving a request for assignment form. The average time to process a license application once it’s assigned was 61 days in Q4 2020; that’s a significant reduction and close to the new standard we’ve set.

With the changes we’ve made this year and at the current pace that we receive license applications, this should not be difficult to maintain going forward. These accomplishments truly deliver what the industry asked us to address, both in timeliness and predictability. We hope this serves as an example of how we will continue to work with the industry and to strive to improve and make Oregon a leader in the cannabis industry and a model for cannabis regulation.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback and guidance that will help us collectively make constructive improvements to the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program.

Jason Hanson

OLCC Director of Licensing

Jason.hanson@oregon.gov

 

 

Illinois Adult Use Cannabis Monthly Sales Figures 2020

ILLINOIS: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Office of the Secretary, issued updated sales figures for the state’s adult use cannabis sales.

Here are the Illinois full year sales figures for 2020, broken out by monthly totals.

 

Pre-Christmas Cannabis Sales Expected To Hit $400 Million, New Years Sales To Top $81 Million

COLORADO:  Business intelligence from Akerna, an enterprise software, leading compliance technology provider, and developer of the cannabis industry’s first seed-to-sale enterprise resource planning software technology, estimates cannabis sales to spike this holiday season.

“To determine how the Christmas and New Year’s holidays would affect cannabis sales nationally, we took a look at last year to see how sales have been influenced by these holidays,” explains James Ahrendt. “For example, the Friday before Christmas was the second largest single sales day of 2019, while the 7-day period leading up to Christmas was 15% higher grossing than the weekly average of 2019.”

Farmer Tom Lauerman in festive garb

Akerna anticipates that in the week leading up to the start of the Christmas holiday (12/18-12/24), weekly average cannabis sales will increase 15%, generating $400 million.

The Friday preceding Christmas (12/18) will most likely be the largest sales day of the month, experiencing a 74% surge in sales. New Year’s Eve is expected to experience a 68% increase in sales, generating $81 million. The average order total is predicted to be $7 higher than the 2020 average, with adult-consumers spending $79 and medical patients spending $121.

Additional Holiday Season Predictions

Sales by product type:

  • Flower – 45%
  • Cartridge/Pens – 31%
  • Concentrates – 13%
  • Infused Edibles – 9%
  • Other – 2%

Sales by gender

  • Male – 64%
  • Female – 36%

Sales by age

  • Under 30 – 28%
  • 30-40 –30%
  • 40-50 – 19%
  • 50-60 –13%
  • Over 60 – 10%

OLCC Identifies Potential Consumer Harm In Some Cannabis Vape Products

Voluntary recall started because non-cannabis additives had undisclosed ingredients

Investigation continues to determine impact across Oregon’s legal cannabis industry

OREGON:  As part of an on-going consumer product safety investigation, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has identified that marijuana products sold in Oregon’s recreational marijuana market during the last two years contained additives, squalene and squalane, that have been linked to safety concerns similar to Vitamin E Acetate when vaped and inhaled. The OLCC is working to trace products and when necessary remove them from sale. OLCC will be considering immediate action at its December 2020 Commission meeting to prohibit future use of squalene and squalane, institute a mandatory recall of affected products, and create a more stringent and transparent review process of cannabis vaping products going forward.

Recreational retail shops won’t be open until October.

The products under investigation by OLCC contained Viscosity, a non-cannabis diluent manufactured and sold by a third-party (non-OLCC marijuana licensee). Some of the product remains on the market, and the OLCC is working to trace and remove it.

Bulk Naturals LLC., dba True Terpenes, sold Viscosity that solely contained squalene, squalane, and an unidentified olive extract to OLCC recreational marijuana licensees between at least January 2018 and November 2019. Squalene is a “botanically-derived terpene” that can be derived from olives; squalane is the hydrogenated version of squalene. Following OLCC’s confirmation of the presence of squalane in Viscosity via independent laboratory analysis by ChemHistory and SC Labs, True Terpenes has complied with all of OLCC’s requests for information. Viscosity has since been reformulated, and according to True Terpenes, none of their products have contained squalene or squalane since November 2019.

As a result of its investigation the OLCC has identified recreational marijuana licensees that potentially used Viscosity in their products.  Because of their purchase of Viscosity, OLCC has requested additional information from several licensees about products they have manufactured.

One licensee – Oregrown, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Bend – swiftly provided the requested documentation. Oregrown was the first licensee to confirm its use of the Viscosity formula under investigation, and since then has been working with the OLCC to voluntarily recall the limited amount of its remaining product containing Viscosity. OLCC has provided Oregrown with the information regarding affected items still on the market and their current location.

Oregrown utilized Viscosity in making Oregrown PAX Era D9 Elite style vaping products manufactured on or prior to August 31, 2019. Although Oregrown has reformulated its PAX product to no longer include Viscosity, the previously manufactured items containing the prior Viscosity formula remain in the market. The most recent sales from Oregrown PAX Era D9 Elite products containing this prior Viscosity formula were in October 2020.

In all, between April 2018 and October 2020, 268 OLCC licensed recreational marijuana retailers sold this item.

Consumers can verify the date of manufacture and whether an item they have purchased is subject to this recall. Any Oregrown PAX Era D9 Elite item with the label identification of “2520” and made before August 31, 2019 should be destroyed by the consumer or returned to the retailer where the item was purchased.

The OLCC has found that Oregrown was NOT aware of the contents of Viscosity and didn’t know that it contained potentially harmful ingredients. At the time that Oregrown used Viscosity, the manufacturer, True Terpenes, did not publicly disclose any of Viscosity’s ingredients due to claims of trade secret protections. Oregrown has provided all information that OLCC has requested, and its products complied with OLCC’s labeling rules at the time. OLCC expects that other licensees will act just as swiftly in order to ensure consumer safety by assisting the Commission in identifying and removing these potentially harmful products from the market.

The OLCC has been concerned about the presence of undisclosed ingredients in cannabis vaping products, and during the last year has been examining the use of non-cannabis additives. As part of this review OLCC has gathered evidence that certain additives pose potential danger to consumers.

At the same time the OLCC has suspected that these unhealthy additives had already been introduced into Oregon’s recreational marijuana system without the knowledge of licensees. The OLCC has been investigating the presence of unknown additives in cannabis vape products, which led to OLCC’s independent discovery of squalene and squalane tainted products.

OLCC recently commissioned a study that determined that when exposed to heat, squalene and squalane produce harmful chemicals. It has also been documented that inhaling squalene has been associated with exogenous lipoid pneumonia. Initial evidence about these additives also suggests a potential for consumer harm similar to that already proven about Vitamin E Acetate.

In light of these recent findings, OLCC staff will be proposing two actions at OLCC’s December 17, 2020, Commission meeting. One will be an action that would declare squalene and squalane adulterants; if approved by the Commission, any items in Oregon’s regulated market to which squalene or squalane have been added would be subject to a mandatory public health and safety recall. The second proposed action will be rules regarding cannabis vaping products that have been under development since July 2020; these rules would establish greater transparency and accountability regarding non-cannabis ingredients, like Viscosity, that are used in cannabis vaping products sold in the OLCC system.

OLCC is continuing its investigation into licensees that purchased Viscosity during the relevant time frame in order to confirm whether it was used in any other vaping products that were sold to consumers. If it is determined that other licensees used the prior formulation of Viscosity without proper disclosure on the item’s label, or have withheld information from the OLCC regarding the use of Viscosity, OLCC will pursue compliance action against those licensees as necessary. Additional health and safety recalls may be issued as more information is discovered.

California BCC Rolls Out “Weedwise” Cannabis Consumer Survey

The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s (BCC) “Get #weedwise” campaign is currently collecting feedback from a variety of cannabis consumers on their current level of awareness of legal cannabis and consumer purchase behavior.

Since the pandemic began many consumers have shifted their habits and more cannabis consumers have entered the market. It’s important for the BCC to ensure the #weedwise campaign is as effective as possible. That is why the BCC has created a Google Forms survey to better understand how consumer buying habits have changed.

The survey allows you to remain anonymous and takes 2-3 minutes to complete: https://forms.gle/fwqpK7uWcQMm5f7QA.

Arizona: Special Meeting of the Mayor and City Council on November 10, 2020 to Discuss Proposition 207

The Willcox City Council will meet to discuss and direct marijuana ordinance following the passing of Proposition 207.

ARIZONA: Arizona residents voted on November 3rd, 2020 to pass Proposition 207, which legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults (age 21 years or older) in Arizona. Individuals were permitted to possess no more than one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants in their residences. The legislation also allowed any person convicted of certain crimes related to marijuana possession, consumption, and transportation to petition for the expungement of their criminal record starting on July 12, 2021.

Prop. 207 placed a 16 percent tax on marijuana sales, in addition to the existing transaction privilege tax and use tax. Revenue from the tax was divided between public programs such as community college districts, infrastructure, public safety, and public health organizations.

Through this legislation, local governments have the ability to ban marijuana facilities and testing centers and can control of aspects of licensing, regulation, and zoning.

The community is invited to attend the meeting on Tuesday, November 10th, at 3:30 PM in the City Council Chambers located at 300 W Rex Allen Drive, Willcox, AZ 85643.

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

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

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

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

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

The report’s other key findings include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLCC Streamlining Marijuana License Applications

Temporary Rule Changes

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

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

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

 

License Application Streamlining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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