October 2021 Cannabis Industry Update

Federal Update:

On Thursday, September 30th, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 3617, also known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. It’s unclear as to how this act will be voted on in the Senate and neither Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) nor Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have released statements on the progress of this legislation.  In the past, both Senators have discussed working towards passing comprehensive marijuana reform bills such as their Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, along with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), before banking legislation such as the SAFE Banking Act gets passed. 

State Updates:  

  • Arkansas Ballot Initiatives:
    • Arkansas, a state with a maximum number of dispensaries capped at 40 with roughly 80,000 registered medical marijuana patients, may see a legalized adult-use program in 2022.  The grassroots organization, Arkansas True Grass, has released their proposed amendment, The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2022, which would allow for adult-use sales regulated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, expungement of marijuana related arrests and homegrown of up to 12 plants.    
  • Florida Ballot Proposal:
    • Regulate Florida proposed the Florida Marijuana Use and Growth Legalization Initiative to appear on the state ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment (an amendment in the state’s constitution that comes from a ballot initiative) for the November 8, 2022 election. Activists need to first collect 222,898 valid signatures to prompt a judicial review and an additional 891,589 signatures to make it to the ballot.  The initiative would not allow retail sales.  A summary of the bill includes: legalizing marijuana for adults age 21 or older for personal use; legalizing possession, use, processing and transportation of marijuana, marijuana products and marijuana accessories; and permitting cultivation of 9 live marijuana plants per adult with 18 plants max per household. It also prevents the legislature from limiting marijuana THC percentage.    
  • Maine Municipalities Opt-Out:
    • According to state data, 90% of Maine municipalities have opted out of allowing recreational marijuana sales. Only 47 of Maine’s 500 towns have opted in to allow recreational marijuana use.      
  • Maryland Ballot Initiatives:
    • A 10-member house working group that was appointed by House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) earlier this year has been formed to study marijuana and prepare a legalization referendum to put on the ballot for 2022.  Work group chair Maryland State Delegate Luke H. Clippinger, D-Baltimore said that the work group will develop a legalization plan for the 2023 Maryland General Assembly session so that lawmakers are able to work on it immediately if voters approve of the referendum. The group plans to discuss several topics including business licensing, equity in ownership of marijuana facilities, conviction expungements, criminal and traffic laws related to marijuana, social equity and cannabis tax policies.  Maryland legalized medical marijuana in 2012.    
  • Missouri Ballot Initiatives
    •  Missouri currently has several ballot initiatives pending for 2022 adult-use marijuana proposals.  Legal Missouri 2022 filed an initiative with the state in August to amend the Constitution in order to make it so that adults 21 and older could purchase, possess, and cultivate cannabis for personal use.  The proposed legal limit would be up to 3 ounces of marijuana, and regulators would be tasked with developing rules for homegrow registry in addition to a marijuana sales tax. Fair Access Missouri has filed a handful of initiative petitions, some of which would legalize adult-use sales whereas others would amend current regulations within the state’s medical marijuana program.  Additionally, Republican lawmaker Shamed Dogan proposed a constitutional amendment to enact an adult-use program. 
  • Nebraska Ballot Initiatives
    • The advocacy group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana began campaigning on Saturday, October 2nd in an effort to collect 250,000 signatures to qualify their two marijuana initiatives to be included on the 2022 ballot. The first initiative would require the state legislature to enact new statutes protecting physicians who recommend and patients who possess or use medical cannabis from criminal penalty.  The second initiative would require lawmakers to pass legislation creating a regulatory framework that would protect private entities that produce and supply medical cannabis.  The group proposed a previous cannabis reform bill, but it was rejected by the state’s Supreme Court because it violated the single-subject rule for citizen initiatives which requires ballot proposals to address one single topic.  
  • New Hampshire Ballot Initiatives: 
    • New Hampshire State representatives Joshua Adjutant (D), Renny Cush (D) and Andrew Prout (R) have each developed their own ballot proposals for adult-use legalization in the 2022 election season. Each proposal received 60% approval from both chambers of the House and 67% of voters would need to vote in favor of it for it to be enacted.  A brief summary of the proposals are included here
  • New York Completes Cannabis Control Board Members:
    • After Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalized adult-use marijuana in March of this year, current Gov. Kathy Hochul completed the selection of appointees to the Cannabis Control Board last month.  The Cannabis Control Board, along with the Office of Cannabis Management, will regulate New York’s medical, cannabinoid hemp, and adult-use programs.  Members of the Cannabis Control Board include: Tremaine S. Wright, Christopher Alexander, Reuben McDaniel III and Jessica Garcia.  
  • Ohio Adds 73 New Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses:
    • The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has approved an additional 73 medical marijuana dispensary licenses for the state’s medical program. The pre-application period opened on September 20, 2021 when the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program released their Dispensary Applications – RFA II. This move comes after the Board of Pharmacy agreed to expand patient access to dispensaries — currently 57 dispensaries are in operation throughout the state.  This new application process would cap the number of dispensaries in the state at 130, or 1,200 patients per dispensary.  As a unique feature of the additional proposal, new dispensaries will be allowed to include a drive-thru for easier access while the state is also considering retrofitting drive-thru regulations for existing dispensaries.
  • Ohio Ballot Initiatives:
    • The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) received approval from the state’s Attorney General to start gathering signatures for its 2022 ballot initiative to legalize adult-use marijuana.  Titled, An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis, the initiative is a statutory proposal that would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adults 21 and older, and individuals could have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Homegrow would be included with individuals being allowed to grow up to 6 plants for personal use and 12 plants per household. A summary of the proposal including sales tax percentages, revenue allocation and regulatory measures is included here
  • Oklahoma Ballot Initiatives:
      • Activists, such as the Oklahoma Cannabis Liberty Alliance (OCLA) and OK4U Approved, are doing work to bring awareness in Oklahoma City and Tulsa regarding two marijuana initiatives for the state’s current medical program and proposed adult-use program for the 2022 ballot.  The medical proposal is a redraft of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Enforcement and Transparency Act that would create a new state agency – Oklahoma Cannabis Commission (OCC) – to oversee all legal cannabis in the state including hemp, and would allow for grants dedicated to research on environmental protection and the health and wellness of cannabis users.  The adult use proposal would allow adults 21 and older to cumulatively purchase:
        • 12 marijuana plants. 
        • 1 ounce of concentrated marijuana. 
        • 72 ounces of topical marijuana. 
        • 72 ounces of edible marijuana. 
        • 8 ounces of suppository marijuana. 
        • 8 ounces of marijuana that is commercially sold or gifted.  
  • Pennsylvania Legalization Bill:
    • The latest bill to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state is H.B. 2050, filed by Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr. (D – Allentown).  Highlights from the bill include: Growers and processors of marijuana would have to contract with an independent lab to test marijuana at multiple points before sale; social equity initiatives; record expungement as a “clean slate” provision; and the creation of more jobs in a state with a booming medical marijuana industry.        
  • South Dakota Ballot Initiatives:
    • As the South Dakota Supreme Court still has yet to make a final decision on Amendment A, which voters approved of and if enacted would fully legalize adult-use marijuana, activists— most notably South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws— are soliciting volunteers for a signature collection on any of the four proposed ballot initiatives for the 2022 election. November 8th is the deadline to collect at least 33,921 signatures for constitutional amendments and 16,961 for a statutory measure. A list containing the details of the four proposed ballots can be viewed here.