By Brittany Radice
This week’s regulatory compliance updates are from April 16th to April 22nd and contain information for Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington dispensaries.
In Federal news, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servicesissued a memo saying that using marijuana or working in the cannabis industry, even if it is legal under state law, makes immigrants ineligible for citizenship because it means they don’t have “good moral character.” The memo says that “violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, established by a conviction or admission, is generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization even where the conduct would not be a violation of state law.” Proposals such as the STATES act do not address these deeper issues related to federal prohibition. “Considering the devastating effects our war on drugs had on Latin America, immigration reform must be a necessary component of any comprehensive cannabis legalization policy,” stated Jason Ortiz, vice president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association.
In Arkansas, medical cannabis sales are expected to begin on May 12th. By that time, state regulators and industry officials expect a handful of dispensaries — estimated between two and five — to be ready to open to qualified patients and caregivers.
In California, an LA Times article reported that the Los Angeles City Attorney unveiled several new enforcement techniques during a press conference. The City Attorney pointed out concerns about illegal operators selling cannabis products with toxic chemicals. Individuals associated with these unlawful dispensaries will also be held accountable. The City is working with the LAPD and the Department of Water and Power to disconnect power from the unlawful cannabis businesses. To date, they have shut off power to thirty-three businesses with “many more soon to come.” City leaders hope the overwhelming financial burden the suit could bring will deter bad actors from setting up shop without a license.
The Colorado Sunset Bill requires industrial hemp that is used in medical marijuana-infused products or retail marijuana products to be tested prior to manufacturing the product. The bill allows retail marijuana stores to sell industrial hemp consumables. The bill requires the state licensing authority to adopt equivalency standards for medical marijuana products and concentrate by July 1st, 2020.
Georgia’s new law, taking effect July 1st, will finally allow access to cannabis oil. The legislation allows the in-state production and sale of marijuana oil and closes a loophole in a 2015 law that banned growing, buying, and selling the drug, but allowed certain patients to possess it.
In Maine, just two days after marijuana enthusiasts celebrated on 4/20, the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy posted draft rules for the state’s coming regulated cannabis market. The
74-page draft rules include sections on licensing, general compliance, general tracking requirements, advertising, product safety, waste management, packaging and labeling, enforcement, and fees.
The Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation to block unlicensed marijuana businesses that remain open after June 1st from becoming licensed for a year. The move comes after a judge last month issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a March 31st deadline. In March, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eliminated the marijuana licensing board and folded its functions into a newly created agency, citing “inefficiencies.”
Also in Michigan, the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 23rd, to receive public comments on the proposed Michigan Medical Marihuana rules. The proposed rules are published on the Office of Regulatory Reinvention’s website and in the May 15th issue of the Michigan Register. Public comments may be submitted now until May 30th via electronic transmission as well.
In Missouri, regulators are being sued by BioTrack THC over their awarding of a contract to Metrc. An attorney for BioTrack THC said the awarding of a contract to Metrc was flawed because the winner did not disclose fees that would be charged to growers and other vendors. The undisclosed fees gave Metrc an unfair advantage according to Biotrack. The contract with Metrc, if it survives the protest, will run for five years.
In Oregon, the Commissioners of the OLCC approved six marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements. Despite approving the settlements, Commission members expressed concern that there remains significant non-compliance by marijuana licensees failing to abide by the state’s laws and rules. The Commission indicated it would review the penalty schedule for recreational marijuana licensees and consider stiffening the penalties for licensees with egregious violations.
In Washington, a lab has been certified by the WSLCB to provide heavy metal testing on cannabis products. The Department of Health has rescinded the emergency rule filed on January 24th, temporarily suspending the heavy metal testing requirements. Effective April 18th, all products produced under chapter 246-70 WAC will be required to be tested for heavy metals and no longer required to include “Not tested for heavy metals” on the label.