State of the Union is a series curated by regional regulatory teams at Fyllo that recaps important cannabis regulatory activity across the U.S. This edition covers activity in October 2021, across California, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington DC.
A central-California city announced an upcoming application period beginning December 1, 2021. Applications will be accepted for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and non-retail microbusiness permits.
The availability of dispensaries in downtown Chicago will likely increase after the City Council approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal to shrink the “downtown exclusion zones”. Recreational sales will still be prohibited, however, on south Michigan Avenue and an additional area between Michigan Avenue and State Street.
Activists in Mississippi have been on a roller coaster ride ever since the Supreme Court overturned the voter approved medical cannabis initiative from last November. The legislature reportedly reached an agreement on new legislation for a medical program and requested to hold a special session, however Governor Tate Reeves has recently pointed to details that still need to be worked out and has not officially called a special session yet despite previously stated support.
An additional hurdle: the Agricultural Commissioner has expressed major disinterest in overseeing any cannabis program while still federally illegal. It appears Mississippi residents will be waiting a bit longer to see if medical cannabis has a future in the state.
The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board announced and held a webinar to assist card holders and licensees with best practices and common issues while using the Accela Cannabis Customer Portal. The event was live streamed, but is also available here for those that missed it.
Regulators in New Mexico published proposed rules for manufacturers, retailers and couriers, and will accept public comments in advance of October 28 when the rules are scheduled for a public hearing. These are the last of the proposed rules that must be finalized before the end of the year deadline to begin accepting applications for the same business types.
Regulators missed the deadline to begin accepting adult-use cannabis applications according to the statutory deadline, but updated their website with a plan to publish a public notice that includes an application start date and all of the necessary information for application submission. With these delays, sales appear likely sometime in spring 2022.
Delays have not just affected the adult-use roll out. New Jersey’s medical program was set to expand back in 2019 but due to ongoing litigation that was finally resolved earlier this year, regulators were unable to award the permits. As of October 15, however, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission announced the winners of a mix of 14 cultivation and manufacturing licenses- all of which were awarded to minority or women owned businesses. More licenses will likely be announced in the coming future, as there are remaining licenses available according to the program’s original expansion plan.
Governor Kathy Hochul wasted little time in making appointments and getting the Cannabis Control Board up and running after delays in implementation under the Coumo administration. The final two appointments made on September 22 completed the make-up of the regulatory board. The CCB held its inaugural meeting in early October, where they voted to allow smokable flower for medical patients as well as approved the hiring of staff members to begin implementing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced an upcoming RFA II for medical dispensary applications, which will now allow drive-through windows. The Board released a preview of the application and other required documents towards the end of September, and applications will begin to be accepted starting on November 4.
Deschutes County formed a Cannabis Advisory Panel in efforts to advise allocation of cannabis tax transfers- allowing the county to receive tax revenue for participating in the legal market, according to the provisions of House Bill 3295. The legislation was sparked by a previous lawsuit from Deschutes County, alleging that the Department of Revenue and Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission failed to pay the county it’s earned cannabis tax revenue since 2019, due to a dispute about the county’s moratorium on the issuance of new cannabis business licenses. Communication between the county and regulators has been vague and although the county is on track to receive future earnings, it is unclear whether the DOR and OLCC will be required to pay the lost tax revenue from previous years.
South Dakota, like Mississippi, has seen its fair share of ups and downs with voter approved cannabis measures passed in last year's election. After ongoing litigation from Governor Kristi Noem seeking to block Amendment A (legalizing adult use) from being implemented, regulators have moved on to meeting the deadlines of Measure 26, which creates a medical cannabis program for the state. Rules are set to be in place by October 29, but recent approval in mid September of the majority of the rules- 143 of 149 proposed rules were approved, left out important measure provisions approved by voters. Regulators plan to consider next steps with the handful of rules (relating to patient cultivation, qualifying conditions and more) that were not approved.
The Council of the District of Columbia announced a hearing set for mid November for a pair of bills that would expand the medical program and create a regulatory scheme for adult-use sales. Although adult-use cannabis is legal in the District, the Harris rider has prevented a legal market since 2014. Recently the rider was omitted in both House and Senate spending bills and although the bill must make its way through the Senate, industry stakeholders and District officials alike have expressed eagerness to get a legal market rolling.
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