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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.
April 27, 2017
Medical Marijuana Now Legal in West Virginia
If you haven’t heard the news yet, Governor Jim Justice signed SB 386 into law on April 19, making West Virginia the 29th state in the country to provide acutely ill patients access to legalized medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we were excited to see another state provide the compassion and care that so many American desperately need and deserve.
While much of West Virginia’s medical marijuana legalization efforts unfolded over just the last couple of months, legislative approval can likely be attributed to an in-depth report published last August.
This detailed report, from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, focused on the economic and budgetary effects that legalization would have on the state. Their findings included a ballpark figure of $45 million in potential tax revenue (at a rate of 25%) and another $17 million in savings on marijuana-related law enforcement. It also highlighted the positive impact that legalization would have on curbing the state’s opioid-based painkiller epidemic by providing an effective, “less addictive” option.
Fast forward to March of this year when Senator Richard Ojeda and 11 co-sponsors introduced SB 386, which would legalize medical marijuana. By the end of the month, the “West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act” was approved by the Senate with an overwhelmingly positive vote of 28-6 and sent to the House. While House Speaker Tim Armstead is known for being staunchly against even considering any medical marijuana bills, SB 386 passed in the House with a 76-24 vote on third reading and after revisions.
The Basics of SB 386, What’s Legal and What’s Not
While the original Senate bill suggested the creation of a 16-member Medical Cannabis Commission to administer the program, the passed version charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. A diverse advisory board will also be established to provide the bureau with recommendations as it implements the new program.
The Senate bill that was passed also specifies a list of qualifying medical conditions, including terminal illnesses, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s, and more:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord damage
- Epilepsy / intractable seizures
- Various types of neuropathy
- Huntington’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sickle cell anemia
Of course, patients must first be certified by a registered physician who has been treating them for their qualifying condition for at least 6 months and must remain in their doctor’s care for this condition. If a physician is caught certifying a non-qualifying patient, they can face felony charges.
One point of contention, and we hope to see this amended at some point, is that the law eliminates the sale or use of marijuana in flower or leaf form. It also does not allow home growing. What is allowed are pills, oils, gels, tinctures, creams and ointments, as well as vaporization (non-whole plant). Dispensaries are also not allowed to sell edibles, but patients can mix legal forms into their own food and drinks.
The newly passed law also allows patients to only possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana, though there is no clear way to define such a supply as of yet. However, patients or caregivers possessing more than this amount of cannabis will face up to six months in jail. We’ll see how this plays out.
If You’re Looking to Set Up Shop in West Virginia
While the Bureau of Health is yet to develop the rules or process applications and business licenses, taxes and fees have already been established:
- Grower/Processor Application – $5,000
- Grower/Processor Registration (per location) – $50,000
- Dispensary Application – $2,500
- Dispensary Registration (per location) – $10,000
- Taxes are 10% on sales from growers/processors to dispensaries
Just 10 permits for growers (up to two locations) will be issued, along with 10 processor permits and 30 dispensary permits. Businesses will be required to use seed-to-sale tracking and meet rules the bureau implements for delivery, transportation, recordkeeping, security, and surveillance.
While patient cards aren’t expected to be issued until July of 2019, Medicine Man Technologies is very encouraged by this development in West Virginia. If you’re looking to apply for a business permit in the state, please feel free to contact us. We’ve been working closely with individuals and businesses across the country to plan, launch and operate successful, fully-compliant cannabis enterprises. Let us put our consulting experience to work for you!
March 29, 2017
Medical Marijuana Grow Licenses Up for Grabs in Ohio, Who Will Profit?
Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the news as more and more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana. What we’ve seen is that the vast majority of new laws are being passed without clearly defined regulations or infrastructure. This has left the door open for debate as the government agencies tasked with implementation start to roll out rule-making plans.
In Ohio, the state’s Department of Commerce is responsible for determining how many cultivators the state will allow based on the anticipated demand. Currently, the agency plans to grant 12 large-scale and 12 small-scale grow licenses. According to recent estimates, these 24 license holders stand to profit from a medical-marijuana market with a projected net worth between $200 million and $400 million.
Because Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana, there are numerous, more experienced cultivators from several other states eyeing Ohio as their next lucrative venture. Of course, this is not sitting well with native, Ohioan growers looking to establish a foothold in the new industry. That brings us to the question at hand – with just 24 grow licenses up for grabs in Ohio, who will profit?
Status of Legalized Medial Marijuana in Ohio
Ohio’s Governor, John Kasich, signed H.B. 523 into law on June 8, 2016, establishing the state’s new medical marijuana law. The House added its approval on May 10, followed by the Senate on May 25, and the new law went into effect on September 8, 2016.
Now, Ohioans who have a qualifying condition (listed in Ohio’s medical marijuana law) and a written statement from their physician will have legal protections for possessing a 90-day medical marijuana supply. Like many other states, Ohio requires an established physician-patient relationship.
Until the cultivation rules are hashed out, patients are required to purchase their medical marijuana from other states where it’s legal and bring it back to Ohio. Unfortunately, home growing for personal use is not allowed in Ohio, neither is smoking cannabis. However, marijuana may be vaporized, and patients also have the option to use extracts and infused products such as food items.
Cultivation & Ohio Department of Commerce
As we said earlier, those who want to commercially grow medical marijuana will be required to apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce. Some basics have already been established such as not being able to grow within 500 feet of a school, public playground, church, public park or public library. Those who apply for a license may also be disqualified due to certain criminal convictions.
Now, here’s what’s causing a lot of debate amongst growers contending for one of the 24 licenses being made available. Factoring into the review, but not required, is proof that the company is headquartered in Ohio, owned by Ohioans and has plans to hire in-state workers.
According to Kevin Schmidt from the Marijuana Policy Project, competition for the required medical marijuana grow licenses will be tough for Ohioans going against versed companies from out of state. And many Ohioans are calling for the Department to make residency a requirement throughout the first year at least. Competition isn’t the only reason, either. Local companies and cultivators also state that:
- Ohioans were the ones on the ground, fighting to pass the law
- Out-of-state companies will want to bring out-of-state workers
- Such a workforce will not improve Ohio’s unemployment stats
- Profits and generated revenue will not benefit Ohio or Ohioans
Bottom line, many believe that Ohioans should be given a chance to establish themselves first.
At Medicine Man Technologies, we know very well that such a request is certainly reasonable. Here in Colorado, license applicants were initially required to live in the state for at least two years. The state has only recently reduced that time to one year in order to open the market to out-of-state investors.
A Case for Allowing Out-of-State Companies
On the other side of the argument are companies pointing out the fact that licensing in Ohio comes with hefty fees and financial requirements, which has led them to seek out-of-state partnerships. Here’s a look at those figures:
- Level I: $20,000 application fee and $180,000 license fee
- Level II: $2,000 application fee and $18,000 license fee
- Applicants would have to show liquid assets by level $500,000 / $50,000
- An escrow account or surety bond of $750,000 / $75,000 will be required
Along with gaining access to the necessary capital, these Ohio-based companies are looking to their experienced out-of-state investors to help with the complicated process of applying for a cultivation license, as well as properly establishing a successful medical marijuana business.
Also lumped into the out-of-state group are actual Ohio natives who moved to states with legalized marijuana to learn the industry and bring their knowledge back home.
When to Expect a Decision on Residency
All medical marijuana fees, residency requirements and other licensing matters will be reviewed by a panel of Ohio state lawmakers and should be finalized by May 6. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the decision so that we can guide our Ohio clients through next steps.
Looking to enter the emerging cannabis industry in Ohio or any other state? Medicine Man offers the experience and knowledge you need to plan, apply and launch a successful, fully-compliant enterprise. Contact us for details, and we’ll start with a personal consultation to discuss your needs and plans.
November 18, 2016
Medical Marijuana in North Dakota Has Been Approved
Talk about a landslide victory. Thanks to a 64% to 32% vote in favor of Measure 5, the Compassionate Care Act, medical marijuana in North Dakota has been approved. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we were pleasantly surprised, considering the state has strict marijuana laws.
So, let’s get into the details. As we said, medical marijuana has been approved and will go into effect 30 days after election day. Like similar laws, the Compassionate Care Act will allow qualifying patients with a debilitating condition, doctor certification and state issued identification card to purchase cannabis (3 ounces or less per 14-day period) for medical use.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in North Dakota
- Cancer and its treatments
- HIV or AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Alzheimer’s disease (Dementia)
- Crohn’s disease or Fibromyalgia
- Spinal stenosis
- Medical marijuana may also be recommended for a chronic or debilitating disease, medical condition, or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
- Cachexia / Wasting syndrome
- Intractable nausea
- Seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms
- Severe debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects
What Patients Need to Know
- A patient may petition the Department of Health if they suffer from another condition that they feel should qualify for medical marijuana in North Dakota. The department will consider the evidence and approve or deny the petition.
- Patients may also have a qualified and registered caregiver who is 21 years of age or older pick up medical marijuana from a dispensary on their behalf. Caregivers can assist up to 5 patients.
- A patient (and/or assisting caregiver) who lives more than 40 miles from the nearest dispensary can cultivate up to eight marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked grow room, as long as it is not within 1,000 feet of a public school. Law enforcement must be notified and may perform on-site checks for compliance – 24-hour notice will be given.
- Medical marijuana use is prohibited in public places, anywhere that tobacco is prohibited and in a workplace. Driving or operating any vehicle under the influence is also illegal.
Oversight of Compassion Centers
North Dakota’s Department of Health will be responsible for overseeing and licensing all of the state’s non-profit, medical marijuana compassion centers. As we’ve seen when providing cannabis consulting for our clients here in Colorado, getting into the cannabis industry will require compliance with many rules and regulations. Here are just a few things to take into consideration.
Licensing & Fees: Licenses are granted based on merit and no stone is left unturned. Before you pay the non-refundable $5,000 application fee and if approved, $25,000 licensing fee, you’ll need to propose a location, show financials and provide detailed plans for daily operations, security, staffing, pesticide-free cultivation and more. Even your character and knowledge of the cannabis industry will be scrutinized.
Location & Basics: You will need to have proper security and exterior lighting, an alarm system that notifies local law enforcement and video surveillance. You can’t operate your medical marijuana center within 1,000 feet of a school and each city may impose other restrictions.
Product Management: Once your compassion center is set up, all cannabis products must be dispensed using a tamper-proof container that’s sealed and clearly marked as medical marijuana from your center. The container’s label needs to state the strain, batch, quantity and active ingredients. You’ll also need to communicate with patients that the product legally needs to be kept in its original packaging.
Now that medical marijuana in North Dakota has been approved, thousands of people suffering from a range of illnesses will finally get the relief they need. And that’s something everyone here at Medicine Man Technologies can be happy about. It’s great to see increased acceptance across the country, and we look forward to more victories in future elections.
Looking to enter the emerging cannabis industry? We have the experience and insight you need to plan, launch and operate a successful and fully-compliant commercial cannabis enterprise. Get in touch!
November 16, 2016
Voters Say Yes to Question 4, Marijuana Will Be Legal in Massachusetts
Medicine Man Technologies congratulates Massachusetts for becoming one of the first states on the East Coast to legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana for adult use. The November initiative won with just 56% of the vote, and as of December 15th, marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts and adults can use, possess and grow cannabis for recreational use.
Like similar ballot measures, it will take time for infrastructure and policies to be developed before the first legal sales take place. As cannabis consultants, Medicine Man Technologies has helped several marijuana enterprises get up and running, and we know that after the momentous first step of legalizing cannabis comes a lot of hurdles and hard work.
At this point, we know that applying to become a retailer through the state will start in October of 2017 and could take up to 90 days to receive a response with existing medical dispensaries given priority. So, we’re guessing that the first legal, recreational marijuana sale will take place no earlier than January of 2018. News reports from the east coast indicate that Massachusetts has a tendency to get bogged down in bureaucracy, so we’ll see how things unfold in the coming months and report back on their progress.
Now that recreational marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts in December, let’s take a look at what you need to know about the new law:
- Who can buy recreational marijuana and what can you have?
Adults who are 21 years of age and older will be able to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, though not more than 5 grams in the form of a concentrate. You will be able to buy marijuana to smoke, as well as edibles, oils and ointment products.
- Where can you smoke or use marijuana?
At home or in another private location. It will be illegal to smoke marijuana in public spaces or anywhere tobacco smoking is banned. Language in the law does point to the possibility that cannabis cafes, where on-site use will be legal, may be opened – eventually. Employers and landlords will also have the right to ban smoking or use in their buildings.
- What about growing recreational cannabis? Do you need a grow room?
The law allows anyone over the age of 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants. For households with more than one adult, there’s a 12-plant maximum. You will need to use a grow room that is not visible to the public and locked/secured. No outdoor gardens!
- Where will you be able to buy recreational marijuana?
Dispensaries will be legal in every city. However, as we said above, existing medical dispensaries that want to expand will be given the first chance to enter the retail market. So, you’ll see the majority of dispensaries open in 2018 unless a community holds a referendum to ban them completely or even limit the number of cannabis retailers that are allowed to open.
Retail marijuana businesses will not be allowed within 500 feet of a school, daycare or other child-related facility. Individual cities will again be able to impose further restrictions and boundaries.
- Is recreational marijuana going to be expensive?
It really depends on the market with no set prices outlined in the new law. The biggest difference, in comparison to other retail goods, is taxes. You’ll pay an excise tax of 3.75% on top of the state’s 6.25% sales tax. Cities and towns can add up to another 2% in taxes, for a grand total of 12% in taxes. Medical sales would remain untaxed.
- Where will all that recreational marijuana tax money go?
The Yes on 4 website stated, “Experts say that taxing marijuana sales will create $100 million in new tax revenue for vital essential services in our communities. We can use the money to strengthen our schools — smaller classes, more books, and newer technology for our children. We can also spend the money on opiate abuse prevention programs, drug awareness campaigns, or law enforcement.”
Because recreational marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts, a Cannabis Control Commission will be put in place and funded by the excise tax, licensing fees and fines collected for regulation violations. This three-member group will be managed by the treasurer’s office, which currently oversees alcohol for the state. The commission will issue licenses and establish any rules not written into the new law, including guidelines for packaging and advertising.
The election was a big step forward for sensible marijuana legalization nationwide and our entire team at Medicine Man Technologies is excited that marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts. And if you decide to enter the cannabis industry, let our experts help with cultivation licensing. Like our Colorado clients, you’ll face a number of hurdles, and we can help you navigate your way to success. Get in touch!