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 Seeking Panelists, Participants & Listeners For Deliberative Dialogue Sessions

Topics Cover Cannabis Quality Assurance Testing

Three sessions will use deliberative dialogue to discuss issues related to new state quality assurance testing of cannabis.

What is deliberative dialogue?

In short, deliberative dialogue is a method of structured conversation that seeks to find increased understanding of all sides and perspectives of an issue. It seeks to discover the most important values that participants have about the topics being discussed and to build relationships among participants. Listening with empathy and ensuring equity among participants is foundational. Deliberative dialogue brings up and discusses the consequences, costs and trade-offs of various policy options, and working through the emotions and values as a necessary part of making recommendations and decisions, common ground can be established as decisions are made.

Deliberative dialogue can be helpful when used between Government and stakeholders and community members. WSLCB is charged with ensuring the safety of Washington state residents. WSLCB works with the public and licensees on key decisions that affect the safety of Washingtonians, and the agency has a central role in creating regulatory frameworks to support that work. WSLCB believes that Washingtonians have the capacity to be well informed just as experts have the capacity to better appreciate the concerns of the public. Both expert knowledge and the perspectives of the public are crucial to the formulation of wise policy. For more on deliberative dialogue click here.

How are the sessions formatted?

Each session is scheduled for three hours.

  • A panel will be scheduled for each session, comprised of:
    • Panel 1: Consumers (4 – 5 panelists; consumers, health care reps, and others)
    • Panel 2: Processors (5- 6 panelists; processors/producers from all tiers, indoor/outdoor growers, minority-owned business, and differing regions in state)
    • Panel 3: Labs (4 – 5 panelists, consisting of lab owners, employees, or both).
  • The moderator will open each forum with topic background, panel introduction, and ground rules.
  • Panelists may give a five minute opening statement covering their background, their interest and experience on the topic, and ideas or thoughts they’d like to talk about.
  • Questions sent in from the panelist recruitment will be posed to the panel members.
  • The rest of the meeting will be interactive (using the hand-raising feature in WebEx) to allow participants and listeners to pose questions to the panel.

How are Panelists Selected?

WSLCB began panel recruitment on January 6, 2021. We asked for those interested in being a panelist, participant or listener to contact us by close of business, or 5PM on January 20, 2021. We continue to need panelists. You can view the announcement and apply here.

How can I listen or participate in Deliberative Dialogue at WSLCB?
Sign up as a non-panelist participant or listener for:

Questions? Contact rules@lcb.wa.gov.

Truss CBD USA, A HEXO Corp & Molson Coors Joint Venture, Launches Veryvell Sparkling CBD Water In Colorado

CANADA:  Truss CBD USA, a joint venture between HEXO Corp and Molson Coors Beverage Company, today announced the U.S. launch of VeryvellTM, a new line of non-alcoholic, sparkling CBD beverages, exclusively available in Colorado.

VeryvellTM is a hemp-derived, adaptogenic, sparkling CBD water now available to Colorado-based consumers in three flavours: Focus (Grapefruit Tarragon), Mind & Body (Strawberry Hibiscus) and Unwind (Blueberry Lavender). VeryvellTM is Powered by HEXOTM, the recognized quality and innovation behind award-winning products.

“We are excited to launch VeryvellTM in Colorado through Truss CBD USA, in collaboration with our partner, Molson Coors. Our joint venture with Molson Coors Canada saw Truss Beverage Brands become the number one choice for consumers in Canada and we are expecting similarly great results in the US.” said HEXO CEO and co-founder Sebastien St-Louis. “We have near-term plans to invest additional capital in the USA to support Truss CBD USA and to further execute on our Powered by HEXOTM strategy with other potential CPG partners, outside of beverages, with whom we are currently in ongoing negotiations.”

VeryvellTM is produced and distributed within Colorado state lines following the state’s established regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD in food and beverages and is exclusively distributed by Coors Distributing Company. Truss CBD USA is distinct from Truss Beverages, Molson Coors and HEXO’s joint venture in Canada that focuses on non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages.

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

 

 

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)

OLCC Recalls Contaminated Marijuana Products Sold Into Recreational Market

Product still in stores “locked” in Cannabis Tracking System to prevent new sales

OREGON:The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is issuing an immediate health and safety recall after identifying pesticide contaminated marijuana products sold through OLCC recreational marijuana licensed retailers. The OLCC has notified retailers to place a hold on all affected products.

The marijuana flower and extract products initially failed pesticide testing (for the analyte Abamectin) with a subcontracted laboratory, but the primary lab – Ecotest – marked that it passed testing in March 2020. The OLCC in September 2020 issued an immediate license suspension to Ecotest due to a number of violations, including the loss of accreditation from the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP) for failing to meet required testing procedures and standards (see OLCC press release). Later, the OLCC formally cancelled Ecotest’s license.

The contaminated marijuana originally entered the Oregon market from a medical grower transferring it into the OLCC regulated system. Oregon Medical Marijuana Program growers are allowed, with prior approval, to sell no more than 20 pounds of marijuana flower annually into the recreational system.

The contaminated product includes several strains of marijuana flower pre-rolls, and “Purple Slurry” extract. Due to the incorrect entry of results by Ecotest, when making the

Consumers can identify the affected products with the following information:

“Emerald Extracts Purple Slurry”

  • Manufactured by Emerald Treasure LLC (030-1008341A083)
  • Label Id = 2805
  • Made on 9/9/20
  • Tested by MW Labs (010-1008606C050) on 9/14/2020

Marijuana flower pre-rolls

  • Strains of “Qurkle,” “BP Oil Slick,” or “Green Crush”
  • Tested by Ecotest (010-1008170B3B6) on 3/12/2020
  • Sold from Bernie’s Universal Dispensaries in South Beach, OR

Consumers who have these recalled products should dispose of the products or return them to the retailer where they were purchased.

A table listing the retailers that sold the items and the approximate dates the products were sold is attached to the press release version of this communication, which can be found on the OLCC website.

The contamination issue was reported to OLCC on December 29, 2020 by a second processor whose extract product failed pesticide testing; their product was never sold to consumers. Using data from the Cannabis Tracking System, OLCC staff were able to verify the failed subcontracted test, trace the affected items in the system, and issue guidance to licensees to set aside the contaminated product.

Consumers who have these recalled products should dispose of the products or return them to the retailer where they were purchased.  Consumers can follow these instructions found on the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program website to destroy marijuana on their own.

There have been no reports of illness. The possible health impact of consuming marijuana products with unapproved pesticide residues is unknown. Short and long-term health impacts may exist depending on the specific product, duration, frequency, level of exposure, and route of exposure. Consumers with concerns about their personal health should contact their physician with related questions. Consumers with questions or concerns about recalled product or pesticide residues in marijuana products are encouraged to contact the product retailer and/or the Oregon Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

WSLCB Looking For Panelists For Its First Deliberative Dialogue Sessions

Be a Panelist, Participant, or Listener

WASHINGTON:  Do you want to share your perspectives about cannabis quality assurance testing? Would you like to share your experiences with fellow licensees, consumers, and others? Would you like to be part of a different way of sharing information and gaining understanding?

If you answered “yes,” let us know!

WSLCB has been working on developing new cannabis product-testing rules. A public hearing on proposed rules was held on November 18, 2020. While we heard oral comment from many licensees, we would like to hear from everyone in the supply chain so we have a better understanding of the complete system – processors, producers, retailers, consumers, and others. And we want everyone in the supply chain to have an opportunity to hear the wide range of perspectives

We’d like to hear from everyone in the supply chain so we have a better understanding of the complete system – processors, producers, retailers, consumers, and others. And we want everyone in the supply chain to have an opportunity to hear the wide range of perspectives.

About the sessions

LCB’s Policy and Rules manager Kathy Hoffman will moderate three sessions with different panelists and topics. To get the conversation started the sessions begin with prepared questions for each panel, with time near the end for audience questions and participation (online of course). Our goal is to increase communication between consumers, licensees, labs, and the agency.

The three session dates and topics as follows:

  • January 28, 2020: Consumer Panel (4 -5 panelists)
  • February 4, 2020: Processor/Producer Panel (5-6 panelists)
  • February 11, 2020: Cannabis Testing Lab Panel (4 -5 panelists)

We want to make sure that each panel represents the rich diversity of our communities, license types, and growing practices. Can you help?

Please send the following information to rules@lcb.wa.gov, attention Kathy Hoffman by close of business (5PM) on TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2020:

  1. Your name
  2. Which of the three panels and dates you’d like to be considered for
  3. Your contact information (email and phone number)
  4. Tell us if you are a consumer, producer, processor, producer/processor, retailer or lab employee or owner
  5. If you are a processor, producer or processor/producer, tell us:
    • Your tier size (1, 2,or 3); whether you are an indoor or outdoor grower; and where you are located.
  6. Tell us three or four questions you’d like to ask others on your panel (for example, how do other producers sample? Or, when you purchase product, what are you looking for?)

We will be sending more information on the deliberative dialogue process, our panelist selection process, and other details.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to offer your perspectives on an important topic – send your information to rules@lcb.wa.gov, type in the subject line “Attention Kathy Hoffman” today!!

NY Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal To Legalize And Create An Equitable Adult-Use Cannabis Program As Part Of The 2021 State Of The State

Proposal to Create the new Office of Cannabis Management to Regulate State Medical and Adult-use Cannabis and Cannabinoid Hemp Programs

Equitable Market Structure to Invest in Individuals and Communities Disproportionately Impacted by Prohibition

NEW YORK: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. Under the Governor’s proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be created to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.

“Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

“Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct longstanding wrongs and build New York back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

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 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.

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.

 

Cresco Labs Opens Tenth Illinois Sunnyside Dispensary In Naperville

The Company increases its national retail footprint to 20 operating stores

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

 

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

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

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

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

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