Cannabis Licensing & Consulting

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May 8, 2018

Recreational Cannabis in Massachusetts to Launch in July

Recreational Cannabis in MassachusettsIn our last update on recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, Medicine Man Technologies provided a look at changes state lawmakers made to Question 4, the voter-approved ballot measure that legalized adult-use cannabis during the November 2016 election.

A compromise bill, known as HB 3818, included tax hikes and the option for municipalities to ban sales. It was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on July 28, 2017.

In addition, the scheduled date to start taking license applications for cannabis enterprises was pushed out to April 1st of this year with the earliest date for legal sales to commence targeted for July 1, 2018.

So, where is Massachusetts today?

Cannabis Licensing Rolls Out in Phases

With sales of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts set to begin in less than two months from now, the state is cutting it far too close for licensing to be granted and product to be grown, prepared and stocked. This will create a severe short-supply issue similar to what was seen in California, Nevada and other states.

Steven Hoffman, Cannabis Control Commission Chairman, is hopeful that the state’s current Registered Medical Dispensaries (RMD) will sell to retailers since these are the only enterprises that are cultivating legally at this point.

However, dispensaries are not required to sell, and the decision will be solely in their hands.

At this point, the Cannabis Control Commission has been flooded with applications from its first two phases and that trend is set to continue:

  • On April 2nd, priority was given to existing medical dispensaries wanting to expand into adult use, as well as “economic empowerment applicants.” These included businesses owned by, that employ or benefit communities affected by unfairly high cannabis-related crime arrests.
  • On May 1st, Massachusetts began taking applications from individuals and cannabis enterprises seeking licenses for cultivation, microbusiness, craft cooperatives, transport, independent testing labs and lab agents.
  • On June 1st, phase three will open licensing to applicants for cannabis product manufacturers and retail.

According to Hoffman, “I think the supply issues are going to – and I hate this bad pun – but we’re going to grow out of them. People are going to get cultivation licenses. It's going to take however many months it takes to grow plants. We're going to get that resolved."

Another Round of Changes is Made

In creating the infrastructure needed to regulate a system for recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission and Cannabis Advisory Board also made more changes:

  • For now, delivery services and on-site, public cannabis use (such as cafes) will not be allowed. A set of regulations to manage these ventures should be rolled out in the coming year.
  • Originally unlimited, regulators will restrict licensed growers to 100,000 square feet of canopy to help ensure that excess cannabis isn’t diverted to the black market.
  • To ensure that medical cannabis patients do not face a medication shortage, dispensaries must earmark 35% of their inventory for these patients.
  • At the point of sale, all cannabis products must be sold with a label utilizing an approved design that includes the wording, “contains THC” and “not safe for kids.”
  • For individuals and enterprises looking to enter the market, Massachusetts will ban anyone with a felony conviction for drug trafficking – other than for cannabis.

Final Hurdle Needs to be Overcome

While July 1st will be a big day for cannabis in Massachusetts, residents will not be able to buy it in every municipality. As we mentioned, HB 3818 gave each area the ability to ban cannabis businesses, including cultivators and retailers.

According to the Attorney General’s office, 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities currently have a ban in place. Most of these were established to give local lawmakers time to pass their own regulations and will expire in time for cannabis businesses to commence operations.

However, there are 59 bans with no set end date which means they could become “dry municipalities” and force residents to travel for purchases.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we look forward to seeing recreational cannabis in Massachusetts finally launch this July. While the road ahead presents supply and demand challenges, legalization has been a well-deserved win for its supporters and the entire state.

It’s our hope that the municipalities with bans will see the many benefits and enable the industry to grow and thrive in their communities.

If you want to start a legal enterprise in Massachusetts or anywhere across the globe, please get in touch with us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

May 1, 2018

Medical Cannabis in Malta is Now Officially Legal

Medical Cannabis in Malta After months of debate, medical cannabis was legalized by lawmakers in Malta, an archipelago located off the southern coast of Italy. On a third and final reading of the legislation, the amendment to Malta’s Drug Dependence Act was passed on March 6th by parliament and signed into law by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca on March 9th.

While the country decriminalized cannabis in 2015, restrictions and other bureaucratic hurdles made it nearly impossible to obtain and use a medical prescription for cannabis. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re optimistic that medical cannabis in Malta is finally moving in the right direction.

What we know thus far is that patients first need to apply for a control card and receive approval from Malta’s Superintendent of Public Health before seeking a doctor’s prescription. The new law also allows general practitioners, not just government-approved specialists such as oncologists, to then prescribe medical cannabis for their patients.

The New Cannabis Law is Far from Perfect

While we always applaud progress, there are areas where we and Maltese advocates would like to see improvements made. First, in a departure from similar programs, only three conditions are eligible to be treated with medical cannabis: chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and the side effects of chemotherapy.

Here are a few more areas of contention:

  • It is still illegal to consume medical cannabis in smokable forms
  • Patients will not be allowed to cultivate plants for personal use
  • Costs will not be covered by Malta’s public healthcare system

Additionally, Maltese doctors are yet to be thoroughly educated on evidence-based research showing the medicinal properties of cannabis, much less how to administer it to their patients. And according to an article from ReLeaf Malta, a cannabis advocacy group, the first networking meeting between medical practitioners and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Health did nothing to improve the situation for medical cannabis in Malta:

“Regrettably, Prof. Seracin Inglot warned doctors of the dangers of using cannabis and called on them to refrain from using it. He also informed doctors that in spite of the approval needed by the Medicines Authority for the patients to start using cannabis, the responsibility falls on the doctor. Prof. Seracin Inglot told members present to use common sense above everything else and to not trust cannabis.”

As our team at Medicine Man Technologies has seen time and again, it’s not just about passing laws but educating the public, the medical community, as well as the government. All stakeholders need to have the information they need to advocate for patients and establish a working medical cannabis system.

What’s Next for Medical Cannabis in Malta

Beyond patient laws for medical cannabis in Malta, a separate bill to regulate the system and medical cannabis products is now being discussed by Malta’s Parliament. It will cover licensing and other rules for:

  • Cultivation, importation or processing of cannabis; and/or
  • Production of any products intended for medicinal use deriving from or resulting from the use of cannabis; and/or
  • Trade in cannabis and, or any preparations intended for medicinal use as deriving from cannabis.

While the bill could potentially be passed by summer, five medical cannabis production projects have already been given the green light. However, the companies involved are not Maltese. In the group are three Canadian enterprises along with one Australian and one Israeli company. Together, their operations should create around 185 new jobs which will certainly help the country’s economy.

Even Malta’s struggling farmers are making plans to capitalize on a legal medical cannabis industry. Over the years, their own industry has seen a drop-off and many have been looking for a way out. While many farmers in other countries switch to growing a lucrative cannabis crop, Maltese farmers are answering the call of outside cultivators looking to buy their land and establish their own operations.

Like many other medical cannabis programs, Malta is off to a decent but somewhat shaky start. Our Medicine Man Technologies experts will be keeping an eye on developments, and we certainly hope to see improvements made to better serve Maltese citizens in need.

If you want to start your own legal enterprise in the U.S. or anywhere across the globe, just get in touch with us for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

April 13, 2018

Medical Cannabis in South Korea Moves Forward

Medical Cannabis in South Korea There is suddenly hope for patients and the parents of children suffering from medical conditions that could be treated with medical cannabis in South Korea. Despite decades of prohibition, archaic opinions and any talk of drug use in South Korea being extremely taboo, a new bill seeks to legalize cannabis for medicinal applications.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we see this as a rather huge development for a typically conservative country and will be watching closely as the bill progresses.

What the Bill Would Entail for South Korea

What we know so far is that Representative Shin Chang-hyun, member of the ruling Democratic Party, introduced a bill in February to legalize medical cannabis in South Korea. Doing so would require making changes to the country’s long-standing and broad-reaching Act on the Control of Narcotics.

Listed under the reason for the bill’s proposal, the following statement was included by Shin, “The current law strictly prohibits the sale of cannabis. Recently, there was a case in which the mother bought a cannabis oil on the overseas fasting line for the treatment of a son with a brain tumor (4 years old) and was arrested and sentenced in court.” (translated from source)

Cases like this have popped up more frequently, and The Korea Times reported that the Korea Customs Service stopped 80 people from trying to smuggle in cannabis products for medical use in 2016. During the previous year, there were only six instances.

This certainly indicates that people are seeing the validity of cannabis as a treatment option. And with patients and parents of patients willing to accept risks such as prison sentences of up to 5 years or fines of 50 million won, or $48,000, it’s certainly beyond time for the country’s lawmakers to allow change.

Of course, it will be one step at a time.

Likely because of the controversial nature of the bill, it only recommends moving medical cannabis to a section of the current law that provides exceptions for certain drugs and opiates that can be used for medicinal purposes. Beyond that, there would be no changes such as developing and implementing a more robust system as seen with other similar legislation here in the U.S. and globally.

In fact, patients seeking medical cannabis in South Korea would first need to have it prescribed by their doctor. Requests would then need to be approved on an individual basis by the commissioner of the Korea Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The bill also does not allow domestic cultivation which means the South Korean market would be reliant on imports from Canada and Australia, as well as rather recent entries to the medicinal cannabis export market, Colombia and even Lesotho, Africa. While Shin’s bill seems simple, there will certainly be issues to address in order to best serve the needs of patients.

At Medicine Man Technologies, we hope that South Korea will continue to shed the stigma and embrace the benefits of cannabis by watching and learning how the world is making it a viable commodity. Until then, we will watch and wait as the bill heads to lawmakers of the Legislative Welfare Committee for further debate. According to news reports from South Korea, this will be the real test and the outcome should be announced later in April. Keep an eye on the news!

If you want to start your own legal enterprise here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world, simply get in touch for private consulting, as well as help with licensing, cultivating, dispensary operations and more.

April 1, 2018

Supply and Demand for Medical Cannabis in Pennsylvania

Medical Cannabis in PennsylvaniaOn February 15, legal access to medical cannabis in Pennsylvania became a reality. And currently, nine dispensaries have opened their doors to patients. While the first weeks of the new program went well enough, demand quickly outpaced supply. It’s an issue Medicine Man Technologies sees often.

For the initial launch, Cresco Yeltrah was the only cultivator out of 12 licensed companies producing and supplying cannabis. Standard Farms has since come online, and Terrapin should follow shortly.

Meanwhile, one dispensary expected 60 patients during their first month and instead saw a hundred on their first day. As for the two dispensaries located closest to Philadelphia, Keystone Canna Remedies and TerraVida Holistic Center, they both reported shortages. TerraVida nearly went through its full inventory during week one and Keystone actually had to close down temporarily.

Unless more cultivation facilities can begin supplying cannabis soon, the problem will only get worse.

While only a handful of dispensaries have opened, the state allows for 50 permits and up to 3 locations per dispensary – that’s potentially 150 total. Also, there are now over 19,000 people on the state’s Patients and Caregivers Registry and only 7,000 card-holding patients. As more and more receive their physician certification, the demand for medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is expected to skyrocket.

The Original Act 16 and Looking Ahead to Phase 2

So, how did Pennsylvania get to this point? In April of 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed medical cannabis into law after bills went back and forth between the state Senate and House. It went into effect in May.

While smoking is not an available treatment, pills, oils, topicals, vaporization/nebulization, tinctures and liquids are available to patients with “serious medical conditions.” These include cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, glaucoma and many more.

Like other programs, patients and caregivers must first register and be certified to receive an ID card. Doctors who wish to prescribe medical cannabis in Pennsylvania must also register with the state and attend a mandatory training session before being able to certify patients.

Currently, the state’s Department of Health has issued permits for 25 growers/processors.

At this point, the shortage is being attributed to the state approving patients and having dispensaries open their doors before crops and product were ready for the influx. While this will likely stabilize as more growers come online, Phase 2 kicked off on April 3.

Part of this includes the state’s Department of Health opening the market and accepting applications for 13 more grower/processor licenses and 23 more dispensary permits. With no residency requirements for interested parties, this opens a huge opportunity in the country’s fifth-largest state.

Phase 2 will also allow for a research component that’s completely unique to Pennsylvania. Accredited hospitals and medical schools will be able to apply for an official permit in order to conduct research on medical cannabis. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, which has been conducting research and education on cannabis and hemp since 2016, plans to take the state up on the offer.

Other schools interested in the opportunity include Penn Medicine, Drexel University, as well as the Pittsburgh School of Medicine which announced its intention to jump into research, “We believe that the research will be of great importance in determining the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products in treating specific diseases.”

While medical cannabis in Pennsylvania is off to a somewhat rocky start, Medicine Man Technologies hopes that Phase 2 should help ease the situation. It’s now up to the state and local governments to execute the program standards according to the regulations and provide patients with easier access to cannabis. We’ll keep you updated.

Are you and your team looking to win a permit to Grow/Process or Dispense medical marijuana in PA? With award-winning technical documentation, robust operating plans and SOPs, professional schematic facility designs, our team of industry experts will help guide your team to success. Contact us today.

March 9, 2018

Recreational Cannabis in Illinois Inches Toward Legalization

Recreational Cannabis in Illinois Inches Toward LegalizationWith the passing of SB 2275 by the Senate, Medicine Man Technologies is excited to see recreational cannabis in Illinois take steps toward realization. The bill will now be handed to the state’s House of Representatives for further deliberation, and if approved, would put an advisory referendum on the November ballot, posing the following question to voters:

“Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

While the outcome would not be binding, it will give lawmakers a better idea of whether or not their constituents want to see recreational cannabis in Illinois made legal. A decisive favorable vote could be the impetus needed for lawmakers to end prohibition as early as 2019. The state’s legislature has already decriminalized cannabis with a 2016 law that treats possessing up to 10 grams (for personal use) as a citation with fines of $100 to $200. Previously, it was a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,500 in fines.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Cunningham, stated “The debate over marijuana legalization is continuing to lead many states to consider various ideas and changes to current laws. Asking the people of Illinois how they feel about the subject can help determine which path we take as legislators.”

What’s Next? It’s All About the Elections

While SB 2275 will appear on the ballot in November if it passes in the House, a similarly worded referendum is already on the ballot for this month’s primaries in Cook County. As the most populous county, which includes Chicago and nearly half of the state’s residents, a clear “yes” vote for legalizing recreational cannabis in Illinois could prove influential for lawmakers. The question being posed:

“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Of course, even if voters overwhelmingly support ending cannabis prohibition, the state’s legislature may include all new faces when it comes time to deliberate and implement a program. In fact, during the 2018 midterms, all 118 seats in the state’s House of Representatives will be up for grabs. Voters will also decide on every executive office, including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and more.  

The most pivotal of races will be for governor as Republican incumbent, Gov. Bruce Rauner, seeks a second term. If re-elected, any law seeking to legalize recreational cannabis will likely be vetoed. In a statement to the media, Gov. Rauner said, "Recreational marijuana, just for personal use, I think is a huge experiment…Colorado has legalized it. California just legalized it. And what I've recommended is, 'Let's not legalize it in Illinois now. Let's watch what's happening in these other states and learn.'"

Southern Illinois University’s Simon Poll™

So, how likely is a second term for Gov. Rauner and what’s the alternative? According to the recently released Simon Poll, Illinois may cut the Republican’s tenure short. While the governor holds a 51% to 31% lead over his only Republican challenger, Jeanne Ives, a state representative against legalization, the real challenge will come from a crowded Democrat race.

Currently, there are 6 Democrats vying for governor. Poll leaders include J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire and venture capitalist whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain. Pritzker, who was active in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign bid, has stated that he is in favor of legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis in Illinois, as well as commuting sentences for people in prison for marijuana-related crimes.

Trailing Pritzker by 10 points is State Senator and cannabis supporter, Daniel Biss, who sees himself as a grassroots alternative to Pritzker and other big money candidates. After Attorney General, Jeff Sessions reversed the Cole Memo, Obama’s policy of not interfering with states that have legalized cannabis, Biss tweeted, “Hey Jeff Sessions, stop trying to drag us back into the 1980's – the War on Drugs was a failed and backwards policy. It's time to stop clinging to antiquated thinking and allow states to legalize marijuana.”

In the Simon Poll of 1,001 registered voters across Illinois, Gov. Rauner comes up short against either Democrat. Pritzker leads the governor 50 percent to 35 percent. Bliss leads Rauner 48 percent to 34.

While the passing of SB 2275 is yet another step in the slow march to legalize recreational cannabis in Illinois, the race is now in its final stretch and the team at Medicine Man Technologies is hoping for a positive outcome. When the time does come, we’ll be available for individuals and enterprises looking to enter the Illinois marketplace. We’ve assisted legal operations from coast to coast, and we’re here to support you with everything from seminars to private consulting and much more.

 

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