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July 7, 2017
Arkansas Medical Marijuana, Now Taking Applications
At 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 If the applicant posts a surety bond, it must be maintained until the applicant has withdrawn, been denied, or if selected, paid the licensing fee and submitted to the MMC a performance bond of $100,000.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
To 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:
- Positive status for HIV/AIDS
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe arthritis
- 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
It’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:
- 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.
Fortunately, 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
On 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.
June 1, 2017
New Recreational Marijuana Bill Introduced in New Jersey
In a state where the governor is vehemently opposed to legalization, many people were surprised when a new recreational marijuana bill was introduced by State Senator, Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), in May. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re honored to have been part of this movement, meeting with both Scutari and Senate President, Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), last October to show them how a legal, safe and regulated industry has greatly benefited Colorado.
The plan for the new bill includes waiting for New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, to exit the office in January 2018. During his “Ask the Governor” radio program last November, he made his stance on legalizing marijuana very clear. In regard to the estimated $300 million in tax revenue the industry could potentially generate, he said, “There is nothing we spend in government that is important enough to allow me to willfully poison our children. That's blood money.”
Meanwhile, 58% of respondents to a Rutgers University-Eagleton Institute poll support legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over, showing the governor is out of step with constituents.
New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana History
Back in 2010, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was passed and signed by then Governor, Jon Corzine (D), on his last day in office. With Gov. Chris Christie on board the very next day, things have been anything but easy for doctors and their patients. The state registry didn’t come online until August of 2012 and even today, only 5 of 6 permitted treatment centers are up and running.
Unlike other medical marijuana programs, New Jersey’s is unusually strict in a number of areas, such as requiring patients to be reassessed by their physician for 30, 60 or 90-day certifications. As for qualifying conditions, PTSD wasn’t added and signed into law by Gov. Christie until 2016. Now in 2017, the state Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel has finally recommended additional conditions, including migraines, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic pain related to arthritis, sciatica, diabetes and more.
Due Diligence Despite Chris Christie in Office
While Senator Scutari’s original, 2014 bill to legalize recreational marijuana didn’t get off the ground, he and other supporters have been busy with Gov. Christie in office.
A 2016 report by the New Jersey Policy Perspective and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform found that legalization would generate approximately $1.2 billion in direct sales and $300 million each year once a graduated tax increase was fully implemented. The report also stated, “Legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana will increase public safety, improve our criminal justice system, enhance racial justice, protect young people, save resources, bolster public health, and generate revenue.”
Later in the year, Senator Scutari led a group of legislators from both parties on a Colorado fact-finding mission to see how our industry is currently operating in the state. During their visit, the delegation met with Medicine Man Technologies Senior Consultants, Carrie Roberts and Matt Best, for a tour of our facility and discussion of both the benefits we’ve achieved and challenges we still face. After the trip, Sweeney commented, “I was on board before we went, but I am absolutely sold that this industry can be regulated. It's safe, it's well managed. Colorado has done an amazing job.”
Even attendee, Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth), who has yet to decide on which way he would vote, had this to say, “There’s very little downside.”
The New Garden State Recreational Marijuana Bill
With Gov. Christie’s term ending and the numerous benefits of legalizing adult use marijuana being brought to light, things are looking up for Senator Scutari’s bill, and we’re hopeful that it will be passed despite a few flaws. Let’s take a look at what the measure would entail for New Jersey:
- Possession of up to 50 grams would first be decriminalized (with a maximum fine of $100) while the full program gets up and running.
- Legalization of recreational marijuana for adults 21+ in the following forms and quantities: one ounce of marijuana, 7 grams of concentrate, 16 ounces of infused products in solid form and 72 ounces in liquid form.
- Establishment of the Division of Marijuana Enforcement within the state Department of Law and Public Safety. Within a year, the group will be responsible for implementing new regulations, as well as helming licensing programs for growers and distributors.
- Gradually increased taxation on sales: 7% in year one, 10% the next, followed by 5% increases until a final rate of 25% is reached.
- Flexibility for local governments to forbid or strictly regulate marijuana businesses.
- Prohibition of growing marijuana in your own home.
As you can see, the last two are a bit troubling and out of step with other states where adult use is legal, but we’ll see how this develops once the bill progresses through the legislature.
Who Will Be the Next Governor of New Jersey?
This is the $300 million question and final piece of the puzzle, so let’s take a look at the candidates. Democrats Phil Murphy (front-runner) and Jim Johnson support legalization, while John Wisniewski wants marijuana decriminalized and a legal framework developed for the market. Another Democrat, State Senator Ray Lesniak also backs decriminalization but is not on board with full legalization.
On the other side of the aisle, Republican front-runner and current Lt. Gov., Kim Guadagno, is against recreational legalization but wants to make it easier for patients to access medical. She’s also open to exploring decriminalization. Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who voted against expanding medical use, only supports decriminalization for offenses involving small amounts of marijuana. Finally, there’s Steven Rogers who is in favor of medical marijuana but opposed to recreational.
With the 2017 gubernatorial election just around the corner in New Jersey, the team at Medicine Man Technologies is hoping to see voters make the right choice for the state’s economy and its citizens. Electing a supportive governor and passing this bill will certainly usher in a new era of opportunity for both those involved in the marijuana industry, as well as sustain numerous social programs. We’ll be sure to give you an update as the race for Gov. Christie’s office heats up over the coming months.
Looking to launch a legal enterprise if New Jersey passes recreational marijuana? Our experts are here to help. Medicine Man Technologies will guide you through each step and help you get a running start at success.
May 2, 2017
Legislators Change Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment
During last year’s November elections, Medicine Man Technologies was happy to see that Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, was passed by slim but definitive 53% of voters. It was set to allow critically ill patients to safely acquire and seek relief from their ailments using medical marijuana approved by their primary care physicians.
Now, in April of 2017, the state’s legislature has passed 24 laws changing what voters approved last year. Each one passed with the required two-thirds vote and 15 of them were sponsored by Republican Representative, Douglas House, who was tasked as the point person for marijuana legislation.
While many of the new laws limit how medical marijuana may be used and who may use it, news outlet KATV reports that the sponsor of the amendment, David Couch, took these changes in stride. “They did some crazy things, but it wasn’t anything that would affect the overall stability or the overall ability to get medicine, marijuana to the patients,” he said.
Here’s a quick round-up of the laws passed affecting the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment:
Act 4: Gives the state 180 days instead of 120 to develop rules and pushes out the date for the Medical Marijuana Commission to accept cultivation and dispensary applications from June 1 to July 1.
Act 5: Because there is no medical standard regarding the effectiveness of marijuana, a patient’s doctor is no longer required to certify that the drug’s benefits outweigh the risks.
Act 479: Bans Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military members from being patients or caregivers, and bans use on all property controlled by those entities.
Act 593: Provides more entitlements for employers such as the ability to enforce a drug-free workplace, including drug testing. Based on “good faith belief” they can take action against an employee for using marijuana during work hours or on-site. Action includes barring employees from certain positions, up to suspension and termination.
Act 638: Rolls the Medical Marijuana Commission, responsible for dispensary and cultivation licensing, into the state’s Department of Finance and Administration.
Act 640: Bans advertising, marketing and packaging that would attract the attention of children. Art, signage and product design will all be subject to scrutiny.
Act 642: Along with licenses for cultivation and dispensaries, there will now be a licensing process required for transporters, distributors and processors.
Act 670: Changes where medical marijuana funds go, funneling them to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Implementation and Operations Fund with any remainder going to a general revenue fund. Previously:
- 50% for grants to technical institutes and vocational-technical schools
- 30% to the state General Revenue Fund
- 10% to the Department of Career Education for workforce training programs
- 5% to the Department of Health
- 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration Division
- 2% to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division
- 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission
Act 740: Bans smoking medical marijuana in the same areas where tobacco is banned and for anyone under age 21. It’s also banned in the presence of a child under the age of 14, a pregnant woman, in a motor vehicle or anywhere else that it will affect a non-authorized person.
Act 906: Provides more than $4 million for the Medical Marijuana Commission in 2018.
Act 1022: Allows licensed cultivators and dispensaries to import seeds, cuttings, clones and plants.
Act 1023: Bans vending machines and use of marijuana at dispensaries and cultivation facilities. Also requires childproof product packaging. And all food/drink mixes (edibles) must not contain more than 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that provides marijuana’s psychological effects.
Act 1024: Requires all dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist available during operating hours.
Act 1935: Allows public schools to ban students from attendance (including events) if it is believed that they are impaired by medical marijuana.
Changes that failed included acts calling for the delay of medical marijuana legalization in Arkansas until it was legal at the federal level, banning smoking marijuana anywhere in the state, and making it illegal for anyone except patients and caregivers to combine marijuana with food and drink.
As you can see, each victory for marijuana legalization still faces a gauntlet of challenges, which is why Medicine Man Technologies works diligently as an advocate for our clients and the industry as a whole. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment as the implementation phase begins, and we hope to see the state’s lawmakers respect the original ideals approved by voters.
Looking to enter the Arkansas cannabis market? Contact our expert consultants for help. Like our Colorado clients, you’ll face a number of hurdles, and we can help you navigate your way to success.