Federal Transportation Licenses
Commercial drivers who use CBD products are doing so “at their own risk,” according to a federal agency’s draft in the handbook for medical examiners who are responsible for issuing U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) certifications. The proposed guidance, published in the Federal Register, is used to advise medical examiners when they carry out physical exams for commercial drivers, whose jobs require interstate travel. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) handbook says that drivers aren’t prohibited from using federally legal CBD products that contain up to 0.3 percent THC per dry weight, it cautions examiners that the use of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid could still jeopardize physical exam certifications. Drivers who are required to submit to the exam and receive the DOT certification, “cannot be physically qualified” if they use marijuana, regardless if it is legal in the state they reside in. There is no medicinal or religious use exemption.
The lack of oversight of CBD by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not ensure that the labels on CBD products that claim to contain less than 0.3 percent by dry weight of THC are accurate. Testing positive for THC because of mislabeling will not be a valid excuse so drivers could still be deemed ineligible for certification if they take the wrong product.
Arkansas may see adult-use marijuana legalization on the ballot in November. It would allow adults to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, prohibit home grow, allow municipalities to vote on restrictions against marijuana businesses, and excludes any kind of expungement provisions. The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Department (ABC) would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing the licenses. Existing medical marijuana facilities would be able to serve adult consumers by allowing them to open another location. The state would impose a 10% tax on adult use sales. Individuals can now own a stake in more than 18 dispensaries. Dispensaries would be able to cultivate and store up to 100 seedlings, instead of 50 as prescribed under the current medical cannabis law .
Effective August 5, 2022 eligible DC residents may immediately purchase medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries using the temporary patient registration approval sent to applicants upon submission of an online patient application. Temporary registrations are valid for 30 days and may be used while an applicant’s application is under review. Non-DC residents are not able to register in the DC medical program but they are able to purchase from a DC licensed dispensary if they are a patient of one of the other 38 States with medical programs through a reciprocity program. Residents are able to possess two ounces or less, with the ability to transfer one ounce or less to another person as long as no money, goods, or services are exchanged and the recipient is 21 or older. Residents can grow up to six plants in their home as well, no more than three of which can be mature, and cannabis can only be consumed on private property.
Adult-use legalization will be on the ballot in Missouri this November. The Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently announced that petition 2022-059 received a Certificate of Sufficiency, meaning a minimum number of valid signatures were obtained from six of the eight congressional districts, putting it on the November 8 ballot. The 38-page ballot measure proposes an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possessing, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing, and selling marijuana for personal use for adults over 21 and over. The new laws would allow purchases of up to three ounces of marijuana at a time; require a registration card for personal cultivation with prescribed limits of up to six mature plants, six clones, and six immature plants, allow persons with certain marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation and have records cleared, establish a lottery selection process to award licenses and certificates, issue equally distributed licenses to each congressional district, and impose a 6% tax on the retail price of marijuana which would be dedicated to implementing provisions for the automatic expungement of convictions of past marijuana-related offenses, substance abuse programs and health care for veterans. Should the amendment pass in November, the department will accept and consider input from the public on how the new law should be implemented.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be regulating the recreational marijuana initiative which calls for the agency to issue 144 licenses for cannabis microbusinesses with priority given to low-income applicants and those harmed by marijuana prohibition. Medical marijuana companies would be allowed to apply to sell recreational marijuana on December 8, with regulators required to approve these new licenses within 60 days. We can expect legal sales of recreational marijuana to begin in Missouri early next year.
The amendment takes effect exactly 30 days after the vote, on December 8, 2022. “State governmental entities estimate initial costs of $3.1 million to implement the program, but will be offset by initial revenues of at least $7.9 million, annual costs of 5.5 million, and annual revenue of at least $40.8 million. Local governments are estimated to have annual costs of at least $35,000 and annual revenues of at least 13.8 million.”
The Maryland legislature approved two cannabis measures in April—one to put the question of legalization to voters as a constitutional amendment on the ballot and a complementary measure that will lay out the implementation framework if voters approve the initiative. The legislation would allow adults 21 and up to be able to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis. It also would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to two plants for personal use and gift cannabis without remuneration. Past convictions for conduct made legal under the proposed law would be automatically expunged, and people currently serving time for such offenses would be eligible for resentencing. The legislation makes it so people with convictions for possession with intent to distribute could petition the courts for expungement three years after serving out their time. The legalization bill was amended to include language to create a community reinvestment fund and allow state tax deductions for certain cannabis-related expenses that marijuana businesses are barred from claiming under the current federal tax code.
If voters pass the referendum, the reform wouldn’t take effect immediately. Possession of small amounts of cannabis would become a civil offense on January 1, 2023, punishable by a $100 fine for up to 1.5 ounces, or $250 for more than 1.5 ounces. Advocates have taken issue with this protracted timeline.
Illinois has issued all 185 conditional adult-use licenses to social equity candidates that were awarded back in the summer of 2021. This expansion of the Illinois Cannabis program is a historic milestone, which is the result of policy that puts equity at its forefront by prioritizing communities that have been targeted by the war on drugs. Of the businesses selected through the lottery, 41% are majority Black-owned, 7% are majority White-owned, and 4% are majority Latino-owned, while 38% of awardees did not disclose the race of their owners. Per the State’s press release “To date, Illinois has made and executed the greatest commitment of adult-use cannabis tax revenue to community reinvestment, expunged the most criminal history records involving cannabis, and has the highest rate of minority ownership of any state, reporting/collecting ownership demographic data in the country.” The next steps are getting the businesses up and running, creating jobs in the communities most harmed by the war on drugs. Through a separate program administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the State of Illinois offers low-interest loans to qualified licensed companies through its Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program. The first round of social equity license applicants are expected to finalize loan agreements directly with DCEO’s partner lending institutions in the coming weeks. The next phase of the loan program will be launched in the near future. DCEO also funds free licensing and post-licensing technical assistance through their partners at Oakton Community College, The Trep School, the Women’s Business Development Center, and the University of Illinois Chicago Law School. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act also authorizes the Department to issue additional licenses in 2022 and future years
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana were unable to meet the requirements to get a legalization initiative on the ballot. On August 19th, the secretary of state’s office announced that the two petitions submitted by the marijuana group had each fallen about 9,000 signatures short of submitting the required 86,776 signatures of registered voters. They were declared to have failed another requirement—to submit signatures from at least 5 percent of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties.”
Top cannabis regulators in New York announced this week that the application period for most marijuana businesses would begin in the middle of next year, marking a significant timeline shift from prior statements that the entire adult-use market would likely be online by then. They went on to say the long-awaited regulations should be launched in the next two months. Only businesses that received conditional cultivation and processing licenses will be able to start growing and processing weed for sale to retailers by receiving a license through the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license program managed by the Office of Cannabis Management. Industry Insiders fear that the delay could cause NY to run out of legal marijuana during the adult-use market’s first year. It’s unlikely conditional growers and processors will produce enough in their first year to supply the entire NY legal weed market, and the delay in full licensing could exacerbate that. To date, the CCB has approved 242 conditional cultivator licenses, and 15 conditional processing licenses, but these licenses are available to a limited number of applicants who fit specific criteria. The shift in timeline on regulations could also make it more difficult for marijuana businesses to find investors, as it’s not yet clear how many marijuana businesses investors will be allowed to finance, which makes venture capitalists nervous about putting money into NY marijuana companies. Investors are a bit hesitant to make any moves quite yet prior to the regulations being released.