Category:

Shocking: California to Infuse Desperately Needed Money into Industry

In an aim to prop up the state’s still-struggling, legal cannabis industry, lawmakers in California on Monday approved new funding to marijuana businesses in order to stay ahead of the black and gray markets. The $100 million package “was proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to be provided as grants to cities and counties to help cannabis businesses transition from provisional to regular licenses,” according to the Los Angeles Times.Los Angeles “will be the biggest beneficiary of the money,” the newspaper reported, which noted that the state’s largest city will receive $22 million. The grant money “would help cities hire experts and staff to assist businesses in completing the environmental studies and transitioning the licenses according to Los Angeles Times.In 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized recreational pot use for adults 21 years and older. But five years later, the regulated cannabis market still lags well behind the illicit market, where marijuana is untaxed and often cheaper. A report in 2019 found that the illicit market in California was three times larger than the regulated one. To that end, Newsom offered up a number of ideas in his budget proposal last month that sought to bolster the state’s struggling legal pot industry.The budget included “$153.8 million Cannabis Control Fund to reflect the consolidation of the functions and positions of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Department of Public Health into a new stand-alone Department of Cannabis Control within the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency” starting next month.“This proposal seeks to further the goals of legalization and regulation by creating a single point of contact for cannabis licensees, local governments and other stakeholders. With a focus on making licensing and compliance more straightforward, transparent and efficient, this proposal aims to simplify participation in the legal market and support the successful and safe operation of a cannabis business in compliance with state law,” the budget proposal said. The budget said that “centralizing the licensing programs’ enforcement efforts will result in more effective enforcement that better protects public health, safety and lands, and makes it more costly and inefficient to participate in the illicit cannabis industry.”The $100 million grant money that was approved by California lawmakers on Monday “would go to local agencies with the most provisional licenses for growing, manufacturing, distribution, testing and retail operations,” the Los Angles Times reported, noting that some of the funds “can be used by cities offering equity funding to cannabis businesses owned by people of color.”California Cannabis Businesses Also Gain ExtensionThe Times said that the Newsom administration also is pushing for marijuana businesses to be given “a six-month extension beyond a January 1 deadline to transition from provisional licenses by complying with mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act,” a proposal that “faces opposition for delaying promised environmental safeguards.”The extension was not included in the budget green lit by lawmakers on Monday, but is still being negotiated. The Newsom administration argues that such an extension is critical for the industry.“Absent this extension, it is possible that a significant number of these licensees could fall out of the legal cannabis system, significantly curtailing the state’s efforts to facilitate the transition to a legal and well-regulated market,” the budget proposal said according to the Los Angeles Times. A regulated weed market struggling to keep pace with an illicit one is by no means unique to California– or the United States. In Canada, where recreational marijuana was made legal in 2018, it has been much the same. In 2019, 12 months following legalization, sales of legal marijuana in Canada totaled about $1 billion, compared with between $5 and $7 billion in sales on the illicit market.  thomasedward

Continue Reading
Posted On :
Category:

Bummer: Colorado COVID-19 Cannabis Executive Orders Set to Expire

Executive orders that relaxed cannabis regulations in Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic expired last week after earlier efforts by state lawmakers to make them permanent failed. The executive order from Democratic Gov. Jared Polis expired on June 10, ending temporary authority for physicians to make medical marijuana recommendations for patients via telemedicine appointments and for cannabis dispensaries to take online payments for customer orders.Polis issued the executive order on March 20, 2020 in the midst of a stay-at-home order and business closures put into place in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The order was extended several times through 2020 and as recently as May 12, 2021, but finally expired at 11:59 p.m. on June 10.Under Colorado state law, marijuana businesses are forbidden to take debit or credit card payments for recreational cannabis orders placed online or over the phone, although medical marijuana patients are permitted to pay for orders online. And while state law allows physicians to conduct appointments with patients for a wide range of health issues via telemedicine, consultations for medical marijuana recommendations are prohibited.The executive order allowing online payments was intended to support efforts to maintain social distancing protocols and no-contact transactions during the pandemic. The telemedicine authorization was issued to protect at-risk patients from unnecessary trips to a healthcare facility.Colorado Lawmakers Rejected Making Pandemic Changes PermanentLast month, Colorado state lawmakers rejected a bill that would have made medical marijuana telemedicine appointments and online dispensary payments legal on a permanent basis. Rep. Matt Gray introduced the measure, House Bill 1058, in February.At a meeting of the House Finance Committee last month, Gray noted that the two practices had already been in place without significant problems.“This has been the law for quite a while now,” Gray told his colleagues on the committee before they voted on the bill on May 20. “We have not seen the sky fall.”However, the bill became entangled over other aspects of cannabis policy that were also under consideration by the legislature, including an effort to cap the potency of marijuana products. “This bill has been caught up in a wave of more controversy that has to do with things that are not in this bill,” Gray told the committee.Some members expressed concern that approximately 4,000 medical marijuana patients are between the ages of 18 and 20, while about 150 patients are between 11 and 17. Although no data was offered to support the assertion, some lawmakers feared the number of young patients could lead to the diversion of medical cannabis to children not authorized to use medical marijuana.“I think there is, unfortunately in the marijuana world, a lot of bad actors,” Rep. Cathy Kipp said before voting against the measure, although she acknowledged the value of telemedicine and indicated she would support the measure if it came to a vote on the House floor. “The abuses that exist in the system right now are just too great.”The House Finance Committee voted 7 to 4 to postpone House Bill 1058 indefinitely. Failure to approve the measure led to the end of online recreational cannabis payments and medical marijuana telemedicine appointments with the expiration of Polis’ executive order last week. Physician Peter Pryor said that medical marijuana consultations can be successfully conducted through telemedicine.“In Colorado, medical marijuana can only be recommended by healthcare providers for pain, HIV, cancer, seizures, glaucoma, nausea, muscle spasms, autism, or PTSD. None of these conditions requires any visual cues,” said Pryor.Although the expiration of Polis’ executive order marks the end of online dispensary payments and medical marijuana telemedicine consultations, other practices put in place because of the pandemic will remain in force in Colorado. Features including walk-up and drive-through windows, which were put in place without the need for statutory approval, will be allowed to stay in place.

Continue Reading
Posted On :