Cannabis Client Alert - Week of July 19, 2021

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In this Week’s Edition:

  • Senators ask for comment on comprehensive federal cannabis legislation
  • CA set to reform its cannabis regulatory system with single new department
  • SC Governor shows support for medical cannabis
  • Employers drop cannabis testing from job applications to increase labor pool

Federal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), released comprehensive draft legislation designed to legalize cannabis while still honoring states’ rights. The new bill, known as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, would remove federal penalties on cannabis, expunge nonviolent federal cannabis-related criminal records, and let states decide whether and to what degree to legalize cannabis. In an effort to build consensus and momentum, the senators invited all stakeholders to provide comments on the legislation by September 1. The effort faces a long road to passage, with even President Biden reiterating his long-standing opposition to full legalization. The bill also has implications for other legislation, like the SAFE Banking Act, which co-sponsor Cory Booker said he would delay until the larger bill is passed. 

President Biden has nominated Dr. Rahul Gupta, the former chair of the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, to serve as the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. If approved, Gupta will become the first medical doctor to hold the position. 

States

AL - The state completed its appointments to a new commission to oversee and run the state’s new medical cannabis program and to license the cultivators, processors, transporters, testing labs and dispensaries for the medical cannabis products, which doctors will be able to recommend to patients with chronic pain and other symptoms and conditions.

CA - In an example of “If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” California has enacted a law to create a single Department of Cannabis Control to consolidate enforcement, licensing and environmental oversight into a single agency. Since legalizing cannabis for adult use nearly five years ago, California has often been criticized for failing to get its illegal cannabis market under control. The new agency will take over responsibilities from the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Cal Cannabis and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch.

CO - Colorado rescinded two executive orders governing cannabis sales and fingerprinting requirements that were put in place as a response to COVID-19. Strict requirements on when product can be transferred to customers as part of online sales transactions and the need for third-party fingerprinting as part of the application process were both restored with the removal of the executive orders. 

IL - Governor Pritzker announced three lotteries to distribute 185 licenses to operate adult-use cannabis dispensaries, and stated that over 200 people have qualified for the state’s craft grow, infuser and transporter licenses. Of those receiving the licenses, 67 percent identify as non-white and all qualified as social equity applicants. 

MO - Missouri’s Director of the Medical Marijuana program, Lyndall Fraker, stated in an interview that while the state could revoke licenses of the 37 cultivators, manufacturers and distributors not operating by September 30, 2021, he is optimistic that the licensees will be up and running to help meet growing demand in the state.

NH - In his veto message of New Hampshire Senate Bill 38, which relates to the organization of alternative treatment centers, Governor Sununu questioned the impact of the bill on future competition, stating: “This bill would create pre-ordained for-profit monopolies in New Hampshire’s medical marijuana marketplace, with no opportunity for other entities to compete or otherwise enter into the marketplace.”

OR - Beginning in July 2021, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will include requests for production instructions and ingredients in Cannabis Tracking System desk reviews of processor licenses.

SC - Governor McMaster (R) said he opposes legalizing cannabis for recreational use, but does see the benefit of medical cannabis for certain people. The South Carolina legislature is likely to take up a medical cannabis bill next year, and one of McMaster’s possible gubernatorial challengers, Joe Cunningham, has stated his support for fully legalizing cannabis in the state. SC’s McMaster opposes recreational marijuana. Medical use is a “different story,” he says.

Hemp/CBD

Michigan imposed new restrictions on delta-8 THC, requiring anyone producing or selling delta-8 products to ensure that the products are licensed, tracked and tested similar to existing cannabis products.

Business

Facing labor shortages, employers in states where cannabis is legal are ditching cannabis testing as a means of increasing applicant pools and retaining employees.

Medical/Health

Research published in the journal Science Advances relies on genetic testing to trace the origins of cannabis to regions of Eastern Asia and underscores cannabis as one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops.

A study in Scientific Reports suggests that terpenes serve to enhance the therapeutic effects of cannabis. While not definitive, the research appears to support the hypothesis known as the entourage effect, the idea that the medical benefits of cannabis are due to the interaction of multiple compounds in the plant instead of just THC or CBD.

Researchers at Artelo Biosciences are working on a synthetic cannabinoid that makes users hungry without the intoxicating effects of THC. The molecule could be used to counter conditions like cachexia, a cancer-related syndrome that causes patients to lose their appetites and become malnourished.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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