Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program To Add Edibles As New Option For Patients

MINNESOTA:  The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) today announced that it will approve infused edibles in the form of gummies and chews as a new medical cannabis delivery method in the state’s medical cannabis program. 

The new delivery method will become effective Aug. 1, 2022. A rule-making process that will outline requirements for labeling, safety messaging, packaging, and testing will launch this month. Current permitted delivery forms include pills, vapor oil, liquids, topicals, powdered mixtures, and orally dissolvable products, like lozenges.

“Expanding delivery methods to gummies and chews will mean more options for patients who cannot tolerate current available forms of medical cannabis,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

Coming in March 2022, registered medical cannabis patients will also be eligible for dried raw, smokable cannabis, which was approved by the 2021 Minnesota Legislature. Rule-making for dried raw cannabis is also currently in process.

No new conditions were added this year. As in past years, MDH conducted a formal petition and comment process to solicit public input on potential qualifying medical conditions and delivery methods for medicine. Since 2016, petitioners have requested anxiety disorder or panic disorder as a qualifying medical condition. Each year it was denied due to lack of clinical evidence and the desire to avoid any unintended consequences. This year at the request of Commissioner Malcolm, the MDH Office of Medical Cannabis conducted an in-depth review, which included a research review of anxiety disorder as a qualifying medical condition. Ultimately the addition was not approved due to a lack of scientific evidence to support effectiveness as well as concerns expressed by health care practitioners.

“We received many comments from health care practitioners treating patients with anxiety disorder, and they urged us to not approve it as a qualifying medical condition,” said Commissioner Malcolm. “We recognize that not everyone has equal access to therapy – which is considered the front-line treatment – but ultimately we concluded that the risk of additional harms to patients outweighed perceived benefits.”

When the Minnesota Legislature authorized the creation of the state’s medical cannabis program, the law included nine conditions that qualified a patient to receive medical cannabis. Since then, the list of conditions has grown to 17. According to state rules, the commissioner of health each year considers whether to add conditions and delivery methods.

Senators Warren, Markey, and Merkley Urge Biden to Issue Blanket Cannabis Pardons

Call on Biden to Fulfill His Campaign Promises to Reverse America’s Broken Cannabis Policies

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) sent a letter urging President Joseph R. Biden to use his executive authority to pardon all individuals convicted of federal non-violent cannabis offenses.

America’s cannabis policies have long punished Black and Brown communities, and these policies are increasingly out of step with the views of the American public:

  • Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe that cannabis should be legalized.
  • Eighteen states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use, all in the past decade.
  • Twenty-seven states—ranging from New York to North Dakota—plus D.C. have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis.
  • Thirty-six states, three territories, and D.C. have allowed for the medical use of cannabis.
  • A number of tribal governments have legalized cannabis for various purposes.

As a candidate for President, President Biden argued that “we should decriminalize marijuana” and “everyone [with a marijuana record] should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.” President Biden has the authority to pardon broad classes of Americans to correct widespread injustice, as previous Presidents have done.

“Our country’s cannabis policies must be completely overhauled, but you have the power to act now: you can and should issue a blanket pardon for all non-violent federal cannabis offenses, fulfilling your promises to the American people and transforming the lives of tens of thousands Americans,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to act swiftly on behalf of the countless Americans punished by the country’s senseless cannabis laws.”

Early last month, Senators Warren and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) urged Attorney General Merrick Garland of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to decriminalize cannabis by removing the drug from the Federal controlled substances list.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Begins Accepting Provisional Dispensary License Applications

OHIO: The Board of Pharmacy is now accepting applications for provisional medical marijuana dispensary licenses. The Application Period will close at 2:00 p.m. on November 18, 2021.

The link to the online application has been added to “DISPENSARY APPLICATIONS – RFA II” at https://www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov/dispensaries along with the already available 2021 Request for Applications and Dispensary Application Instructions, First and Second Round Q&A Responses, and RFA II Presentation.
Click here to access the online Application.

USDA Publishes Final Rule For The Domestic Production Of Hemp

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021.

“With the publication of this final rule, USDA brings to a close a full and transparent rule-making process that started with a hemp listening session in March 2019,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “USDA staff have taken the information you have provided through three comment periods and from your experiences over a growing season to develop regulations that meet Congressional intent while providing a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes and individual producers. USDA staff will continue to conduct education and outreach to help industry achieve compliance with the requirements.”

Key provisions of the final rule include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations.

Background: 

On Oct. 31, 2019, USDA published the IFR that provided specific details on the process and criteria for review of plans USDA receives from states and Indian tribes regarding the production of hemp and established a plan to monitor and regulate the production of hemp in those states or Indian tribes that do not have an approved state or Tribal plan.

The IFR was effective immediately after publication in the Federal Register and provided a 60-day public comment period. On Dec. 17, 2019, USDA extended the comment period until Jan. 29, 2020, to allow stakeholders additional time to provide feedback. USDA re-opened the comment period for 30 days, from Sept. 8 to Oct. 8, 2020 seeking additional comments from all stakeholders, especially those who were subject to the regulatory requirements of the IFR during the 2020 production cycle. In all, USDA received about 5,900 comments.

On Feb. 27, 2020, USDA announced the delay of enforcement of the requirement for labs to be registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the requirement that producers use a DEA-registered reverse distributor or law enforcement to dispose of non-compliant plants under certain circumstances until Oct. 31, 2021, or the final rule is published, whichever comes first. This delay has been further extended in the final rule to December 2022.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) directed USDA to issue regulations and guidance to implement a program for the commercial production of hemp in the United States. The authority for hemp production provided in the 2014 Farm Bill was extended until January 1, 2022, by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021, and Other Extensions Act (Pub. L. 116-260) (2021 Continuing Appropriations Act) allowing states and institutions of higher education to continue to grow or cultivate industrial hemp at certified and registered locations within the state for research and education purposes under the authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill.

More information about the provisions of the final rule is available on the Hemp Production web page on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.

WSLCB Actions: New Permanent Rule For Certificates Of Compliance For Cannabis Business Locations And Extension Of Emergency Rules On Prohibition Of Vitamin E Acetate

January 6, 2021 Board Action

On Jan. 6, during a regularly scheduled meeting, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board took the following actions:

Adopted Emergency Rules (CR-103E) Regarding Vitamin E Acetate

Emergency Rules (WAC 314-55-1055) – Marijuana Product Disclosure Form (Effective January 6, 2021)

Emergency Rules (WAC 314-55-1065) – LCB Vitamin E Acetate Prohibition (formerly LCB Vitamin E Acetate Ban) (Effective January 6, 2021)

Emergency Rules (WAC 314-55-077) – Marijuana Processor License – Privileges, Requirements and Fees (Effective January 6, 2021)

Emergency Rules (WAC 314-55-079) – Marijuana Retailer License – Privileges, Requirements and Fees (Effective January 6, 2021)

 

Adopted Permanent Rule (CR-103P)  Certificate of Compliance – location of business upon application submission)

Implementation of SSB 6206 – Marijuana Business Premise Certificate of Compliance (Effective February 6, 2021)

Washington: Cannabis Testing Lab Praxis Shut Down For Falsifying Test Results

More than 1200 sample tests given elevated THC potency results by lab in Lewis Co.

WASHINGTON:  The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) issued a summary suspension of Praxis Laboratory’s certification to conduct quality assurance located in Centralia, Washington was found to have falsified testing data to provide high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) potency results for more than 1200 samples of cannabis.

During the investigation the lab owner attempted to destroy evidence of falsified data in an effort to obstruct LCB’s ability to conduct a complete investigation.

Labeling cannabis with falsely high THC potency levels is a form of consumer deception and is prohibited under Washington law. THC is the natural chemical compound responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effect. Because of this, cannabis users seeking more pronounced psychoactive results may choose to buy cannabis with higher levels of THC.

The summary suspension is effective for 180 days beginning December 10, 2020 until June 8, 2021. During that time the WSLCB will seek permanent revocation of the “marijuana laboratory” certification due to fraud, and the subsequent investigation obstruction. Moving forward, the lab will no longer be allowed to test cannabis for licensees in Washington.

The LCB educates licensees to reach compliance and enforces Washington’s liquor, cannabis, vape and tobacco laws and regulations. The WSLCB is mandated to ensure that licensees in Washington State follow state laws and regulations. When licensees fail to comply with state law, the Board, under state authority can take action including the issuance of suspensions to ensure public health and safety.

Congressman Blumenauer Reacts To New Report Detailing Vast Economic Benefits To MORE Act

CBO projections show that cannabis reform will lead to huge growth in revenue, cuts to federal prison spending, and more.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Following a historic vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to end the federal prohibition on cannabis last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, released a new report today detailing vast economic benefits to the legislation.

Among other things, the agency found that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would increase revenues by about $13.7 billion, cut federal prison spending by $1 billion, and reduce time served in federal prison among existing and future inmates by 73,000 person-years.

U.S. Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and a key sponsor of the MORE Act, lauded these findings today on the House floor.

“It was sad that my Republican colleagues were unable to understand why we voted to reform our failed prohibition of cannabis. They don’t care about honoring the will of the people and they are unable to grasp the enormity of the racial injustice and damage by selective enforcement against young Black and Brown Americans,” Blumenauer said. “But the CBO score may have some other reasons for them. It shows that the MORE Act would reduce 73,000 person-years of prison time. It would increase revenues by $13.7 billion. It would provide $3 billion for job training and legal aid to people harmed by the war on drugs. While doing all of this, it would reduce the deficit by $7.344 billion.”

If the MORE Act becomes law, the CBO report also estimates that from 2021 – 2030, the U.S. Department of Justice would spend $3 billion from the MORE Act’s Opportunity Trust Fund to provide job training, legal aid, and other services to people harmed by the “War on Drugs.” During this same period, the legislation would lead to $2.7 billion in Small Business Association funding for state and local grants to make loans to cannabis businesses and help governments develop cannabis-licensing rules.

“Even if you don’t care about reducing the damage to Black and Brown Americans, or honoring the will of the people, the economics make it clear,” Blumenauer continued. “Once again, the people are right, and the people deserve strong Congressional support.”

The report released today by the CBO can be found here.

Full text of the MORE Act can be found here.

New Jersey Attorney General Grewal Issues Additional Guidance To Prosecutors On Handling Low-Level Marijuana Possession-Related Cases

NEW JERSEY:  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has issued additional guidance to prosecutors concerning the prosecution of low-level marijuana cases, supplementing his August 29, 2018 and November 4, 2020 guidance.

Attorney General Grewal directed all New Jersey municipal, county, and state prosecutors to adjourn, until at least January 25, 2021, any juvenile or adult case solely involving the following marijuana possession-related offenses:

  • possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(3);
  • possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(4);
  • being under the influence of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(c);
  • failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(d);
  • use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia under N.J.S. 2C:36-2 involving only marijuana or hashish;
  • possession of a controlled dangerous substance while operating a motor vehicle in violation of N.J.S. 39:4-49.1 involving only marijuana or hashish; and
  • any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:36A-1 involving only marijuana or hashish.

For cases involving the above-enumerated charges as well as other offenses, the Attorney General directed prosecutors to use their discretion to either postpone the case in its entirety or seek dismissal, without prejudice, of the marijuana possession-related charge(s) and proceed with prosecution of the remaining charges. Notably, today’s guidance does not affect the prosecution of cases charging distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

“Fairness demands that we suspend prosecution of marijuana possession-related cases while we await direction from the Legislature on the parameters for decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of regulated adult-use cannabis,” said Attorney General Grewal. “It simply does not make sense or serve justice to proceed with prosecutions on charges that may be foreclosed soon through legislative action.”

Previously, on November 4th, the Attorney General issued guidance to law enforcement emphasizing that they have broad discretion in handling low-level marijuana offenses, and encouraging them to exercise that discretion in light of anticipated legislative action that may decriminalize marijuana.

Attorney General Grewal reiterated that more comprehensive guidance, including direction on handling previously adjudicated matters, will follow when the Legislature provides details of the framework for marijuana decriminalization and the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Guidance for Marijuana Possession Cases Pending in Municipal and Superior Courts: click here.

Guidance Regarding Municipal Prosecutors’ Discretion in Prosecuting Marijuana and Other Criminal Offenses, August 29, 2018: click here.

Interim Guidance on the Constitutional Amendment Legalizing Cannabis, November 4, 2020: click here.

Washington: WSLCB Extended Public Comment Period For Supplemental Proposed Rules

WSR #20-20-040:  Quality Control Testing and Products Requirements

WASHINGTON: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has extended the public comment period for input on supplemental proposed rules regarding marijuana quality control rules described in chapter 314-55 WAC.

This notice and other relevant rule-making materials may be viewed at lcb.wa.gov/laws/laws-and-rules under Proposed Rules.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board encourages your participation in the rule-making process by giving input on this rule.

Public Comment
Please forward your initial comments to the Liquor and Cannabis Board by mail, e-mail, or fax by November 19, 2020.

By mail:
Rules Coordinator
Liquor and Cannabis Board
P.O. Box 43080
Olympia, WA 98504-3080

By e-mail:
rules@lcb.wa.gov

By fax:
360-664-9689

Ohio Board Of Pharmacy Publishes Updated Patient & Caregiver Numbers For June 2020

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

  • 147,245 Recommendations
  • 116,497 Registered patients
    • 8,349 Patients with Veteran Status
    • 8,713 Patients with Indigent Status
    • 644 Patients with a Terminal Diagnosis
  • 91,330 Unique patients who purchased medical marijuana (as reported to OARRS by licensed dispensaries)
  • 13,140 Registered Caregivers

For the full list of program numbers, please visit the Program Update page.