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August 8, 2017

Canada Looks to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Canada Looks to Legalize Recreational MarijuanaAt Medicine Man Technologies, we’re keeping a close eye on our northern neighbors as Canada looks to legalize recreational marijuana for adult-use by July 2018. In April of this year, a plan was announced by the Canadian government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. If passed, the law would make them the second nation in the world to make such a move. Uruguay was the first.

The plan includes developing a system for Canada’s federal government to regulate marijuana cultivation, distribution and sales, as well as manage licensing, taxes and all associated fees. Provinces would then have the ability to pass further laws regarding sales and distribution, as well as increasing the minimum legal age of 18. In addition to retail purchasing, adults would be able to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana and grow up to four plants per household.

Like many legal, adult-use recreational marijuana laws here in the states, Canada would prohibit driving while impaired and implement strict laws regarding taking marijuana over its borders.

On his website, Prime Minister Trudeau stated, “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

Three Major Hurdles

While the bill is yet to receive Parliament’s official approval and may face some changes before becoming law, its outlook is good. Canada’s House of Commons is controlled by the Liberals and an even more liberal faction, the New Democratic Party, is also on board with legalization. As for Conservatives, they are a small minority and don’t pose any substantial threat to the bill.

One wild card is Canada’s Senate which typically does not veto or delay legislation passed by the House. However, they have recently begun to assert more authority, so interference should not be completely ruled out. Beyond adult-use recreational marijuana passing Parliament, there are three major hurdles that will also need to be addressed. Let’s take a closer look at those.

  1. Withdrawal from International Treaties

Since 1961, Canada has signed three UN drug treaties pledging to ban marijuana. Leaving these treaties requires a notice period. However, in order to keep the promise of legalizing marijuana by July 1, 2018, Canada would have needed to give the UN notice by Canada Day which has now passed. There are still ways to legalize marijuana without violating the treaties, including a delay of the legalization date, constitutional amendment (not likely), or on the grounds of performing scientific research. This final option would require some legal creativity to achieve. How Canada plans to accomplish this still remains to be seen.

  1. Efforts to Change the Advertising Rules

In accordance with federal task force recommendations, adult-use recreational marijuana businesses would only be allowed to distribute basic details, much like rules for the tobacco industry, such as price, strain, and company name. Now, Canadian marijuana businesses have joined forces with Advertising Standards Canada to draft guidelines and lobby the government to be able to advertise and brand their products. Their goal is to be able to better differentiate their products from each other and those sold on the black market.

  1. Canada’s Premiers Want More Time

Because Canada has empowered each territory to decide its own regulations for taxation, as well as determine who is allowed to sell, consume, and purchase adult-use recreational marijuana, Canadian premiers have indicated that they need more time to develop these rules. They’ve met with push back from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has insisted that the country will meet the July 1, 2018 date. The government has stated that it has a backup plan for those provinces that fail to establish regulations, though details are not yet known.

Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we are hopeful that the bill will be passed and everything will be in place as Canada looks to legalize recreational marijuana for adult-use by July 2018. If you are planning to enter Canada’s adult-use recreational marijuana market next year, please reach out to our team for assistance. We offer consultations on all aspects of the business, ensuring you’re in compliance and on the right track for success.

August 1, 2017

California Senate Has Replaced MCRSA with SB 94

California Senate Has Replaced MCRSA with SB 94At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the west coast and were pleased to hear that the California Senate has replaced MCRSA with SB 94. The latest and greatest evolution of the state’s laws, SB 94 essentially repeals the existing Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) while incorporating certain policies into the licensing provisions set forth by the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), also known as Proposition 64, which was passed by voters in November of last year.

Under the new bill, this consolidation of provisions into a hybrid program is known as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). The outcome is a regulatory structure that’s intended to be more operator-friendly. The California Growers Association remarked that the bill was “a thoughtful and robust foundation for a well-regulated cannabis marketplace in California.”

What SB 94 Means for California Cannabis

The new MAUCRSA structure would generally impose the same requirements on both commercial medicinal and commercial adult-use cannabis activity, with specific exceptions. Highlights of the changes include the following:

  • The Bureau of Cannabis Control is now the governing regulatory agency. Control of industrial hemp fibers will be transferred to the Department of Food and Agriculture.
  • The currently available licenses remain the same. “M-licenses” for medicinal operators and “A-licenses” for commercial adult-use operators. A single holder of both types of licenses are required to keep premises separate and distinct, however, this might only require a physical barrier versus a completely separate location.
  • Micro-business licenses, specialty cottage cultivation licenses, and indoor, outdoor, and mixed-light cultivation licenses will be offered for both recreational and medicinal marijuana operators and made available on or by January 1, 2023.
  • Vertical integration prohibitions that were part of MCRSA have been removed while the ban on large-scale cultivators remains. Other cultivators can now apply and be approved for multiple licenses in different categories, including acting as their own distributor.
  • Transporter and producing dispensary licenses are not available under MAUCRSA.
  • Retailers are now allowed to have a brick-and-mortar store that is not open to the public and only sells cannabis through delivery.
  • With MAUCRSA, applicants may show prior compliance with local laws prior to obtaining state licenses. The city or county now is responsible for alerting the state within 60 days if the applicant is not in compliance with local laws.
  • Changes to testing, inspection, and quality assurance are also part of SB 94. Distributors must store cannabis on their premises during testing and will be responsible for quality assurance reviews for labeling and packaging compliance.
  • The residency requirement has now been removed. This means that foreign and out-of-state companies are now allowed to sell both medicinal and recreational marijuana. This will not stop some cities counties from creating their own residency requirements.
  • Advertising requirements which regulate online advertisements and create a universal edible cannabis symbol have been added.
  • The cannabis excise tax will be measured by the average market price (as defined) of the retail sale, instead of by the gross receipts of the retail sale.

There are a number of additional changes as well. Overall, the team here at Medicine Man Technologies sees this bill as a positive and comprehensive step towards creating a sensible framework for California’s expanding cannabis market.

What’s Next for AUMA in California

California Senate Has Replaced MCRSA with SB 94Now that the California Senate has replaced MCRSA with SB 94 and the bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown at the end of June, the state can more easily move forward in establishing a system for adult-use, recreational cannabis. Several license types should be made available in January of 2018 at which point retail sales may commence. For now, adults who are 21 years of age and over can consume and possess up to an ounce of flowers or eight grams of concentrate. They can also grow up to six plants in an enclosed area hidden from view or in their homes.

If you are considering entering California’s cannabis industry, our experts at Medicine Man Technologies can help you understand and navigate the new rules implemented by SB 94. We’ve helped clients from coast to coast with everything from applications and licensing to the deployment
of world-class cultivation and dispensary operations. Our consultants will ensure you’re able to set up a compliant and successful venture.

July 7, 2017

Arkansas Medical Marijuana, Now Taking Applications

Arkansas Medical MarijuanaAt Medicine Man Technologies, we’re excited to see that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment is moving to its next phase of implementation. As of June 30, 2017, the state’s Department of Health is taking applications for medical marijuana registry identification cards, and if you would like to operate a cultivation facility or dispensary, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will now take your application.

We’re very aware of how complicated all of these processes can be and our Medicine Man Technologies team has helped numerous clients in several states with their applications and licenses. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about applying in Arkansas.

Applying for a Dispensary License

The MMC will certify up to 32 dispensaries to operate across the state, 4 in each of the 8 geographic zones. Applications must be hand delivered by September 18, 2107 and include the $7,500 fee (half is refunded if a license is not rewarded). While selection was previously lottery-based, it was changed in April to be a merit-based system. Here’s more:

  • Individual applicants must be current Arkansas residents who have resided in the state for at least 7 consecutive years prior to the application date.
  • For enterprises, at least 60% of the equity of applicants must be owned by Arkansas residents.
  • You may not have interest in more than 1 Arkansas cultivation and 1 dispensary operation.
  • You must provide proof that your proposed dispensary location is at least 1,500 feet from a public or private school, church or daycare – from your main entry to the nearest property line. The MCC recently defined schools as K-12 institutions, excluding colleges and universities.
  • Applicants must provide proof of assets or surety bond of $200,000, and at least $100,000 in liquid assets. If the applicant posts a surety bond, it must be maintained until the applicant has withdrawn, been denied, or if selected, paid the licensing fee and submitted to the MMC a performance bond of $100,000.
  • If selected, the initial licensing fee for growing and non-growing dispensaries is $15,000 and annual renewals are $22,500.
  • All identities on applications (both cultivation and dispensary) will be removed so that the commissioners will not know the personal identity of the applicants.
  • With the new merit system, bonus points will be added to the application if the majority of the ownership belongs to veterans or minorities. Whether or not you opt to also grow medical marijuana will not have an effect on merit.

Applying for a Cultivation License

Arkansas Medical MarijuanaTo supply the state’s 32 dispensaries, the MMC will approve 5 cultivation sites. Again, applications must be hand delivered by September 18, 2107 and include a $15,000 fee with half returned if you are not awarded. Licenses will also be granted based on a merit-based system with all residency and ownership requirements listed in the first three bullet points applicable to cultivation operations. Key differences:

  • You must provide proof that your proposed cultivation location is at least 3,000 feet from a public or private school, church or daycare – from your main entry to the nearest property line.
  • Applicants must provide proof of assets or surety bond of $1,000,000, and at least $500,000 in liquid assets. If the applicant posts a surety bond, it must be maintained until the applicant has withdrawn, been denied, or if selected, paid the licensing fee and submitted to the MMC a performance bond of $500,000.
  • Your performance bond must then be maintained until your cultivation facility files its first required sales tax report Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration for the sale of usable marijuana.
  • If selected, the initial licensing fee and subsequent annual renewals are $100,000 in certified funds due within 7 days after receiving written notice from the MMC.

Applying for an Arkansas Medical Marijuana Registry ID Card

The state has made it easy for adults (18+) to apply by offering an online option or the ability to print out the form and mail it to the Department of Health. When applying, you’ll need to provide your proof of Arkansas residency (driver’s license or state ID), pay the non-refundable $50 application fee and have a Physician Written Certification (doctors may be contacted to verify) for a qualifying condition:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

If you suffer from any other medical conditions not listed, you also have the option of petitioning the Department of Health. Within a 120-day window, a hearing will take place and your request will be either approved or denied. The Arkansas Drug Policy Education Group is also working to add more conditions such as: ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, autism, severe insomnia, migraines and more.

Here are a few other items you’ll need to know when applying:

  • Once received the Department of Health, it will take up to 14 days to process everything and cards will be issued one month before medical marijuana is available at dispensaries.
  • Both patient and caregiver applications and renewals require payment of a $50 fee.
  • If completed online, a caregiver criminal background check is an added $34. If the caregiver has more than one patient, they must apply and pay for a registry card for each patient.
  • Your Arkansas medical marijuana registry ID card is valid for 1 year from the date it was issued or the amount of time chosen by your physician. If your card expires, your legal protection expires and you will not be able to purchase medical marijuana.
  • In April of 2017, the state’s legislature passed Act 479 which bans Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military members from being patients or caregivers.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of information to digest when applying for the Arkansas medical marijuana program, especially in the areas of cultivation and dispensary operations. To help you make sense of all the rules and regulations, Medicine Man Technologies offers private consulting. Our team has the experience to help you navigate your way to success.

July 1, 2017

Medical Marijuana in Florida Signed into Law

Medical Marijuana in Florida Signed into LawIt’s been a long, strange trip for medical marijuana in Florida, culminating in Governor Rick Scott signing medical marijuana into law on June 23, 2017. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been watching this situation unfold in Florida ever since voters approved Amendment 2 last year by a vote of 71%. Now, the state’s legislature has officially amended current medical marijuana laws to reflect the ballot measure by passing Senate Bill 8-A and receiving Governor Scott’s signature to seal the deal.

Early Days of Medical Marijuana in Florida

Previously, Florida voters failed to pass a similar medical marijuana amendment in 2014, securing just 58% of the required 60% supermajority vote needed to implement a (state) constitutional amendment.

Following the defeat, the state’s legislature did pass the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which was considered a highly imperfect law. It only granted patients suffering from epilepsy, cancer and medical issues causing ongoing seizures or severe muscle spasms access to low-THC cannabis with 0.8% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10% of cannabidiol. It also granted just a limited number of cultivation and distribution licenses, further restricting access. Ultimately, because of its many flaws, medical marijuana operations in the state never truly got off the ground.  

Fast forward to early 2016 and the passing of HB 307, which expanded the 2014 law to give terminally ill patients access to full-strength medical marijuana. Again, there were issues such as needing certification from 2 physicians, including one specialist, and at least a 3-month relationship with those doctors.

Florida’s Amendment 2 Hits the Right Notes

During the 2017 November election cycle, the tides turned for medical marijuana in Florida and the constitutional amendment passed with 71% approval. Amendment 2 was far more inclusive, providing either low-THC cannabis or full strength medical marijuana to patients suffering from a wider range of conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma 
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain
  • Comparable conditions to those enumerated
  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification

Amendment 2 gave the state’s Department of Health the responsibility of regulating medical marijuana cultivation and treatment centers, as well as registering and issuing ID cards to patients and caregivers (who can buy marijuana on the behalf of a patient). The Department was also required to finalize all of their regulations by June 3, 2017, and issue ID cards for medical marijuana in Florida later in the year.

It Takes a Special Session to Pass Senate Bill 8-A

After Amendment 2 passed, the Florida Department of Health released preliminary text for its medical marijuana rules in January of 2017 and held five public hearings to seek feedback from residents. Initial reactions to the proposed regulations were inherently negative, pointing to the Department’s limiting access to the 10 specifically listed medical conditions, but leaving out physician discretion for use in other situations and continuing to limit the number of licensed dispensaries.

Amendment 2 was later addressed by the state’s legislature where the rules were to be finalized during the 2017 session. The legislation, HB 1397, appeared to be on its way to passing but fell apart at the last moment when both chambers could not come to an agreement on how many retail dispensaries could be authorized to operate. It appeared that the rules would be again be left to the Department of Health to finalize in order to meet the deadline.

Medical Marijuana in Florida Signed into LawFortunately, Governor Scott called for a special session of the legislature to be held in June. While the call was initially made to address issues with the state’s budget, House Speaker Richard Corcoran stated that medical marijuana in Florida would also be included. He was quoted as saying required, “Obviously 71% of the voters have called for something. There should be no reason why we can’t reach agreements and get that done and so my hope is that it will be added to the call.”

During the special session, Senate Bill 8-A was introduced by Senator Bradley (R) and finally passed by both chambers. Governor Scott then signed it into law on June 23, 2017.

Senate Bill 8-A: Highlights of the New Florida Law

One of the most significant features of the passed law is that despite the Department of Health’s initial rules text, it does allow physicians to certify use for patients with chronic pain and ailments comparable to those specifically listed. It also removes the 3-month treatment prerequisite, expands the “45-day supply” rule to a 30-week certification and allows full-strength medical marijuana for certified patients.

The Department of Health will begin issuing licenses for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in July, granting the holder the unrestricted ability to cultivate, process, transport and dispense medical cannabis. License holders will also be able to open up to 25 dispensary operations across the state. The law allows for 10 new growers right away, which will more than double the state’s current count of 7. Once patient registration numbers reach 100,000, 4 more MMTC licenses will be made available. This incremental process will then repeat for every 100,000 patients added to the registry.

Consulting to Cultivation, We’re Here to Help

Now that medical marijuana in Florida has been signed into law by Governor Scott, Medicine Man Technologies looks forward to helping individuals and enterprises wanting to enter the market. We offer private consultations, assist with legal cannabis cultivation, offer operations training and so much more.

You can also visit us at these conferences: The Moneyshow in San Francisco, GrowX Detroit, or the MJ Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

June 14, 2017

Marijuana Legalization Vetoed in Vermont

marijuana legalizationOn May 24, Republican Governor Phil Scott vetoed a marijuana legalization bill in Vermont. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve enjoyed seeing greater marijuana acceptance across the country’s legal landscape. Unfortunately, they can’t all be victories – fortunately, this is not where the story ends.

Gov. Scott provided a detailed response stating his concerns and requesting modifications. In his letter, he said, “I will provide the Legislature with recommended changes, and if we can work together, we can move forward with this issue.” The matters he brought up may be discussed during a 2-day veto session scheduled for later this month and could potentially lead to a revised bill for Gov. Scott to approve.

The Basics of Bill S.22

What makes Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill so unique is that it wasn’t originally passed by a ballot initiative. Instead, it was first introduced in the state’s House of Representatives by co-sponsors, Republican Tom Burditt and Democrat Maxine Grad. In the House, it narrowly passed by a 79-66 vote and was then sent along to the state’s Senate where it was supported 20-9.

The bill that landed on the Governor’s desk would have allowed adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a maximum of two mature and four immature plants in a secure location. Legalization would have gone into effect on July 1, 2018.

S.22 also sought to establish a 9-member, Marijuana Regulatory Commission to study and develop a system and regulations for a retail, adult-use marijuana market. The group’s first meeting was set for August 1, 2017 and their first report due to the General Assembly and governor by November 1.

Like many other states, the bill included standard limitations such as not providing marijuana to anyone under the age of 21, not being able to consume marijuana in public or while driving, as well as making it illegal for someone who provides home-based day care to use or cultivate at their location.

The Governor’s Response

At Medicine Man Technologies, we were encouraged to see some open-minded thought in his response letter. Gov. Scott began by saying, “With a libertarian streak in me, I believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”

His recommendations included clearly defining severe penalties for dispensing or selling marijuana to minors, especially when on school grounds. He also requested the establishment of strict penalties for not only marijuana consumption while driving, but consumption while driving with a minor in the vehicle which may affect the child due to secondhand smoke.

As for the Marijuana Regulatory Commission, Gov. Scott wants a more comprehensive member base, including representatives from the Department of Health and Department of Taxes, plus substance abuse professionals. He also suggested giving the group more time to complete its examination and submit final recommendations regarding:

  • Appropriate regulation and taxation of a legal, adult-use retail marijuana system
  • Revenue needed for regulation, enforcement, administration, education and prevention
  • Establishing a threshold for driving while impaired and testing method
  • A strategy for the education and prevention of drug use by minors
  • Plans for ongoing monitoring and reporting of any public health effects

The governor stated, “We must get this right. That means letting science inform any policy made around this issue, learning from the experience of other states, and taking whatever time is required to do so.”

So, What’s Next for S.22?

Bottom line, either a revised version of the marijuana legalization bill must be passed by the House and Senate then submitted to the governor during the upcoming veto session, or it will have to be put on hold until January of 2018 when the state’s legislature reconvenes.

Revising and passing a new bill this June would require a two-thirds majority in the House to vote for a rule suspension that would then allow the process to be fast-tracked. Unfortunately, S.22 barely passed in the House the first time around and Minority Leader, Republican Donald Turner, has asserted that his 53 members would not support the rule suspension and therefore, it would not be approved.

If Rep. Turner is correct, one option would be to extend the veto session beyond the 2 days which some see as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Another possibility would be for Gov. Scott to create the regulation and taxation commission via executive order now. Then, if the legislature votes in favor of legalization in January, the original timeline and the July 2018 effective date would likely remain intact.

As Vermont waits to see how their legislature moves forward with creating a new and improved S.22, Medicine Man Technologies will be sure to provide the latest updates. Despite the fact that marijuana legalization was vetoed in Vermont, we truly see that it’s inevitable and look forward to supporting those wanting to start their own legal enterprise in the state. Consulting to cultivation and operations, we offer years of experience and expertise to our clients nationwide.

 

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