State of the Union is a monthly series curated by regional regulatory teams at Fyllo that recaps important cannabis regulatory activity that occurred across the U.S. This edition covers activity in February 2021 across Alabama, California, Colorado, Idaho, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia.
A key Alabama Senate committee approved a bill to legalize medical cannabis, sending it to the full Senate floor for consideration. In early February, the legislation, introduced by Sen. Tim Melson (R), would allow people with qualifying conditions to access cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
A California appeals court ruled that the city of Montclair was within its right to shut down a medical cannabis dispensary.
California regulators issued guidance clarifying that it is not a violation of state law for tax preparers to serve cannabis businesses. Assembly Bill (AB) 1525, which added Section 26260 to the Business and Professions Code, specifies that institutions won’t violate California state laws by providing their services to licensed cannabis businesses.
The Office of Administrative Law approved the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s (BCC) emergency regulations, facilitating greater access to financial services for licensed cannabis businesses who face challenges obtaining banking, insurance and other financial services. The BCC (within the California Department of Consumer Affairs) issues licenses to retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses and temporary cannabis events, and regulations pertaining to the licenses.
The Colorado Legislature is expected to discuss issues related to delivery, THC potency limits, social equity and medical cannabis in the State Capitol this year.
The Idaho Senate passed a measure to block cannabis legalization, even if voters approve it on the ballot in future elections. If the House follows suit, the action could create serious complications for activists seeking to put cannabis reform measures on Idaho’s 2022 ballot. The measure stipulates that “the production, manufacture, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession, or use of a psychoactive drug shall not be permitted in the state of Idaho.”
Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) has refiled legislation that would allow medical storefronts to sell cannabis to adults for recreational use. The bill, Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use (SB 710), would legalize the sale of cannabis to individuals 21 and older at authorized medical cannabis centers. In addition, the bill allows adults to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis or a product with up to 2 grams of THC.
Modeled after a recent voter-approved initiative in Oregon, the proposal from State Rep. Michael Grieco (D), who represents Miami Beach in the State Legislature, presents the first serious push for legal access to psilocybin on the East Coast. It’s also the first effort to legalize magic-mushroom access in a red state and a potential test case that could demonstrate that, like cannabis legalization, access to legal psilocybin is also a bipartisan issue.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced a new plan to legalize medical cannabis and use the revenue to fund Medicaid expansion. Meanwhile, Republican-led House and Senate committees have already filed their own medical cannabis bills.
Minnesota’s House speaker and majority leader filed a bill to legalize cannabis in 2021. Its path through the Republican-controlled Senate remains unclear, but Gov. Tim Walz (D) is on board with legalizing cannabis.
Gov. Murphy (D) signed the New Jersey cannabis legalization bill after the State Legislature, and Governor’s office compromised on varying issues. This concludes the 3-year legalization saga in New Jersey. Murphy believes New Jersey’s legal cannabis marketplace will be formed in the coming months as jurisdictions decide whether to permit cannabis operations in their localities.
The New Mexico House Health Committee recently advanced a social equity and microbusiness-focused adult-use cannabis legalization bill while putting aside a more industry-oriented bill. Legalization efforts have failed in the past, but many experts believe New Mexico is leaning towards legalizing adult use this year.
Oregon regulators are considering implementing draft rules to streamline the cannabis licensing process. These proposed amendments would update the temporary regulations adopted last fall to integrate a more efficient licensing process and reduce required documentation submitted as part of a license application. However, applicants will still be required to satisfy the same substantive requirements to receive a license.
A state judge voided South Dakota’s cannabis legalization initiative approved by more than 54% of voters. The judge, who has the support of Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and most of the law enforcement groups in South Dakota, believes the voter-approved measure was unconstitutional. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws are currently planning to appeal the ruling.
The Virginia State Senate and House compromised on identical bills and sent the legislation to Gov. Northam’s (D) office. In the meantime, under the deal, a new Virginia Cannabis Control Authority will begin work this July to lay the ground for a legal cannabis industry.
The West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) announced the successful applicants for medical cannabis dispensary permits. Recipients of these permits will be allowed to operate retail locations within West Virginia for certified patients.
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