Medical Marijuana Bill in Peru Has Been Approved

Medicine Man TechnologiesMedical Marijuana Bill in Peru Has Been Approved  Medicine Man Technologies is pleased to report that a medical marijuana bill in Peru has been approved, and implementation should take place by the end of 2017. After being introduced over the summer and subjected to a quite a bit of debate, the bill to legalize cultivation, sale and patient use was overwhelmingly passed by the Peruvian Congress. The final vote included 67 favorable votes and just 5 dissenting votes, indicating a strong backing from all political parties.

Legislative Bill 1393 must now be approved by Peru’s President, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who actually proposed medical marijuana legalization after a highly publicized and protested police raid on a group known as Buscando Esperanza. The organization was a group of mothers who began cultivating and producing cannabis oils in a makeshift laboratory to alleviate various symptoms of their children’s illnesses such as epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis, seizures and more.

Once approved by President Kuczynski, Peru will join Chile, Argentina, Columbia in providing legalized medical marijuana. Another Latin American country, Uruguay, legalized the cultivation and sale of cannabis back in 2013.

What’s Next for the Medical Marijuana Bill in Peru

With its passing on October 19th, the bill will now be implemented by the Peruvian government. The current strategy is for the creation of a confidential patient registry to be managed by the Ministry of Health. Doctors will also be able to provide information on illnesses and dosage recommendations.

During the provided 60 days, further infrastructure will also be developed. Currently, licensing for the cultivation and production of medical marijuana will be overseen by a regulatory committee made up of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA), and a panel of cannabis experts. For research purposes, government permits will also be required. No details have been released regarding medical marijuana sales at this point.

While a list of illnesses to be covered by the medical marijuana bill in Peru has not been released, it will likely cover many of the common ailments seen in similar legislation: epilepsy and seizure disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, terminal illnesses and chronic pain.

Cultivation, Importing and Affordability Concerns

While the impetus for legalizing medical marijuana was the mother’s group, Buscando Esperanza, the bill as it stands only includes imports along with highly controlled, local cultivation and production. This means that the group, and others like it, will not be allowed to continue producing cannabis oils, which could mean higher prices that put vital medication out of reach for some patients.

Ana Alvarez, founder of Buscando Esperanza, contends that her patient organization can produce oils efficiently and at a price that makes it accessible to all those who need it. She also points to the group’s ability to produce the needed strains for specific ailments. Alvarez hopes the Peruvian government will revisit the matter as infrastructure is developed in the coming weeks and allow for self-cultivation.

Now that a medical marijuana bill in Peru has been approved, Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye out as their regulatory system takes shape. We hope that all patients who are in need will have safe, affordable access to the medication they require, and we look forward to seeing marijuana reform continue its momentum beyond the borders of the United States.  

No matter where you are in the world, the team at Medicine Man Technologies is available to assist all individuals and enterprises looking to enter the market. We offer private consultations, assist with legal cannabis cultivation, offer operations training and much more.

The Ups and Downs of Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico

Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico Medicine Man Technologies DenverThe ups and downs of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico highlight the need for continued improvement across the entire industry. In January, Medicine Man Technologies was thrilled to see dispensaries open their doors in Puerto Rico. Since then, the medical marijuana program has created job opportunities and tax revenue, but its progress has been hindered by issues such as a complex patient application process, ongoing changes and of course, millions of dollars in damage caused by Hurricane Maria in September.  

The History of Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico

In 2015, then Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order legalizing medical marijuana and gave Puerto Rico’s Health Department authority over developing a new program. Since that point, two different “Regulations” were passed to control the use, cultivation, production and distribution of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico, each adjusting how the industry would be regulated.

The latest iteration, signed in July of this year by Governor Ricardo Rossello, provides more clarity while allowing previous regulations (No. 8766) to remain in place until an improved framework can be agreed upon. According to the new Medical Cannabis Act, “the preceding administration acted recklessly by

introducing medical cannabis in Puerto Rico and legalizing such an industry…which consisted of merely

two and a half pages — without prescribing the rules to implement it effectively and responsibly.”

The Medical Cannabis Act keeps recreational marijuana, home cultivation and smoking for medical use illegal. However, patients may use pills, oral drops, oral inhalers, topicals, suppositories, patches, edibles and vaporizing cannabis flower or concentrate. Qualifying conditions include:

  • Cancer and Chemotherapy for Cancer
  • HIV / AIDS
  • ALS and MS
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Arthritis, including Rheumatoid
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Anorexia
  • Migraines
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Hepatitis C

The Act also loosens current regulations on non-residents to potentially boost tourism, expands its focus on medical marijuana research and clarifies tax matters. One issue that it doesn’t address, but may be changed by a Regulatory Board of Medical Cannabis, is the cumbersome application process for medical marijuana ID cards and a requirement for patients to choose and purchase from just one dispensary.

Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico Hit Hard by Hurricane Maria

When discussing the ups and downs of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico, one of the most significant downs is Hurricane Maria which made a direct hit as a nearly Category 5 storm on September 20th.

Once the potential answer to the island’s $74 billion debt, medical marijuana in Puerto Rico is struggling even more after Hurricane Maria. At Medicine Man Technologies, it was disheartening to see the initial devastation, grow facilities with massive structural damage, as well as crops and equipment destroyed. Now, two months later, the industry is still trying to secure the electricity and potable water needed to fully resume operations.

Compounding the struggle are issues that Puerto Rico shares with other cultivators in California where fires wiped out numerous cannabis farms in the Napa area. First and foremost, the inability to qualify for disaster assistance due to marijuana still being illegal at the federal level. Second, a lack of insurance for grow facilities, crops, equipment and other expenses. Even emergency bank loans are out of reach for a cash-only industry, which means many businesses affected by these natural disasters are a total loss.

The only upside is that these recent events have spurred a dialogue surrounding the issues cannabis companies face. After paying big dollars for licensing, investing in their infrastructure and complying with higher tax regulations, it only makes sense that they should be seen as legitimate businesses able to qualify for insurance coverage and other protections.

Moving Forward in Puerto Rico and Beyond

While the ups and downs of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico continue, Medicine Man Technologies hopes that businesses on the island will be able to recover and the coming changes to the local industry will provide the support they need to thrive. We also look forward to seeing the discussions surrounding disaster relief and insurance lead to real change that’s been long overdue.

Of course, if you are looking to open or invest in a legal marijuana enterprise, please get in touch with our team of experts for a consultation. Let us guide you through each step and help you succeed.  

Tasmania Launched a New Medical Cannabis Program

Tasmania Launched a New Medical Cannabis Program Medicine Man Technologies Denver, ColoradoThe Australian state of Tasmania launched a new medical cannabis program on September 1, 2017, and it’s unlike many others of its kind. At Medicine Man Technologies, we typically see medical marijuana programs include a long list of qualifying conditions, new infrastructure requirements, as well as a litany of regulations for cultivation, distribution, licensing and sales. Tasmania’s program is far less formal, and so far, a lack of foundation seems to be hindering the ability of patients to get the medicine they need.

According to a report by ABC Australia, the Tasmanian Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme is being stalled by widespread confusion and too much paperwork. During the first month of the program, just three applications have been submitted to the Health Department with none approved at this time, and there is no further information available as to when any decisions will be made.

So, what exactly is the holdup? Once you look into how this new program works, the issues are more than apparent. While a more experimental approach can certainly be appreciated, Tasmania’s absence of infrastructure may ultimately hurt the patients for whom the scheme was created.

About the Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme

When Tasmania launched a new medical cannabis program, it was a step forward. Its intent is to enable patients to seek a prescription for unregistered medical cannabis after other medicines and treatments were unsuccessful. Prescriptions in pill form, oral drops, topicals and mouth sprays would be filled by a Tasmanian Health Service hospital pharmacy. Smoking and growing medical marijuana are not allowed.

Now, putting this into practice becomes more complicated.

A patient must first consult with their general practitioner (GP) and be referred to a relevant medical specialist who will then determine whether or not medical cannabis would be an appropriate treatment for the condition and patient. Next comes hours of paperwork which is then submitted to the Health Department for review. Finally, each application is evaluated and approved on a case-by-case basis.

If and when the specialist is given the green light to prescribe, one interesting benefit of the program is that the patient will only pay the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (available to all Australian residents) co-payment of $40. All other costs for the program will be subsidized by the Tasmanian government.

Beyond the process to seek and fulfill a prescription for medical cannabis are a number of other issues that many feel the program will need to overcome to ensure its success. They include:

  • Qualifying Conditions – There is no specific list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. While a lack of restrictions might seem like a benefit, it leaves a lot to be determined by GPs, specialists and the Health Department. Two patients suffering from the exact same debilitating condition may have completely different outcomes.
  • Lack of Knowledge – According to the government flowchart for practitioners, specialists are required to consider their expertise and qualifications to recommend medical cannabis. They must also review evidence of the potential effectiveness in context with a patient’s condition, and perform a risk/benefit analysis in regard to safety, quality and efficacy.

With doctors facing such a tall order, it’s no wonder that in the ABC article, a multiple sclerosis sufferer who was denied by her specialist had this to say, “My neurologist refuses to prescribe, he says there’s not enough research, not enough evidence, he’s not at all willing.”

  • Long Waits for Patients – As the program rolls out in the coming month, there is concern that case-by-case application reviews will create a massive bottleneck and force patients to wait an undetermined amount of time to receive the medication they need.

Now that Tasmania launched a new medical cannabis program, the Medicine Man Technologies team is interested in seeing whether or not this new approach to a medical marijuana program actually has the ability to flourish. While we hope that Australian patients will receive the care they deserve, it remains to be seen whether or not this less formal program will actually be able to meet their needs.

Medical Marijuana Bill in the Philippines Will Advance

Medical Marijuana Bill in the Philippines Medicine Man Technologies Denver, ColoradoIn a stark juxtaposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s notorious anti-drug stance, a medical marijuana bill in the Philippines will advance. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hopeful that HB 180 will overcome future hurdles and be passed. Known as the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, the bill would give patients with specific, debilitating conditions access to medical cannabis and expand the country’s research into its medicinal benefits.

As for Duterte, he appears to be on board and has stated, “Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient in modern medicine right now. There are medicines right now being developed or already in the market that (contains) marijuana as a component.”

While the outcome of the medical marijuana bill in the Philippines still remains uncertain, our team at Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye on its developments. What’s so startling to us is that Duterte has waged a violent “war on drugs” in his country, including cannabis and other “hard drugs”. His vastly different views on medical marijuana are certainly unexpected.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs

Prior to being elected just in May of last year, Duterte spoke to a massive crowd about his stance against drugs. In his speech, he declared, “If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.”

He won the presidential election with just under 40% of the vote.

After taking office in June of 2016, Duterte followed through on this campaign promise immediately. To date, the president’s war on drugs has led to the killing of around 7,000 Filipinos with other estimates somewhere between 10,000 to 12,000 citizens. Deaths are attributed to the Philippine National Police and vigilante killings instigated and incited by Duterte and his senior officials.

Even if the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act passes, recreational marijuana use will continue to be illegal. Punishment for just a few grams includes massive fines, as well as decades and even life in prison. And while the death penalty for drug offenses was abolished in 2006, the country’s House of Representatives has now passed a bill to revive its use for certain drug-related offenses.

Details of the Medical Marijuana Bill in the Philippines

Despite the country’s violent recent history, HB 180 survived over a year of scrutiny and debate in the House. If passed, the new legislation would require the Philippines Department of Health to establish, license and manage a system of Medical Cannabis Compassion Centres. Regulations for distribution and sales will be developed by the country’s Drug Enforcement Agency. 

Patients will need to be issued an identification card by a certified physician with whom they have a “bona fide” relationship. The doctor must also be educated on both the benefits and effects of medical marijuana use. Minors will also have access with the consent of a custodial parent or legal guardian who has been fully informed of the benefits and risks of medicinal marijuana.

And while raw, flower and hash forms will unfortunately not be legal, qualified patients will have access to edibles, tinctures and capsules. Currently, patients with the following conditions will qualify:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Admitted into hospice care
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorders

Other conditions may later be added later by the Department of Health if recommended by a panel of doctors assembled specifically to make a determination.

While this medical marijuana bill in the Philippines will advance to the next level, it remains to be seen if legislators can secure its passing. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hoping that patients will finally get the medicine they need without having to risk their lives using an illegal black market. As the drama continues to unfold, we’ll be sure to give you further updates.

Compromise Bill Affecting Recreational Marijuana in Massachusetts

Recreational Marijuana in MassachusettsA compromise bill affecting recreational marijuana in Massachusetts was signed by Governor Charlie Baker in July. While Medicine Man Technologies was excited to see the state pass Question 4 with 56% of the vote during the November 2016 election, a legislative conference committee has now enacted significant changes to the original ballot measure.

In December of last year, recreational marijuana in Massachusetts became legal for adults to possess, use and grow. As predicted at the time, shaping the state’s legal cannabis market became bogged down in bureaucracy, delaying the development of infrastructure and policies. Because of this, the scheduled date to accept license application has been pushed out six months to April 1, 2018 with the earliest date for legal sales to commence targeted for July 1st. And that’s just the start.

Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy changes included in HB 3818 and what that means for recreational marijuana in Massachusetts going forward.

Sales May Not Be Available Everywhere

The new compromise bill sets up a system that allows communities to opt-out, more specifically the 91 municipalities that voted against Question 4. Until December 31, 2019, the decision to ban or limit recreational marijuana businesses in these areas is solely up to the city council or board of selectmen.

For those communities where Question 4 passed, a ban would be far more complicated, requiring the development of an ordinance or bylaw that would first have to be passed by the city council or board of selectmen. Then, with the mayor’s approval, it would go to the voters via regular or special election. As of January 2020, this will be the standard process for any cities or towns that seek to implement a ban.

Excise Taxes on Marijuana Sales Go Up

When the original ballot measure for recreational marijuana in Massachusetts passed last November, voters approved the following tax structure: 6.25% state tax, plus a 3.75% marijuana excise tax, and an optional local tax of up to 2% for a total of 12% maximum.

While legislators originally wanted to more than double that total amount, the compromise landed on the figure of 20%. The marijuana excise tax is now 10.75% and the local option is capped at 3%. While this number is not what voters approved, it’s not the highest in the nation.

Market Regulatory Structure Expands

Control of both medical and recreational marijuana in Massachusetts will be consolidated under the same regulatory authority, the Cannabis Control Commission and Cannabis Advisory Board. The CCC, which has direct regulatory control (including licensing) will expand from 3 members to 5, while the advisory board, which will provide input and recommendations, will now consist of 25 members.

So far, the CAB includes a wide range of members, including John Carmichael, the police chief from the town of Walpole and a staunch opponent of cannabis use, as well as Kim Napoli, a labor lawyer and co-founder of a Boston hemp products store. It also includes state business leaders, entrepreneurs and an adolescent substance abuse professional.

As for the Cannabis Control Commission, there has been quite a bit of controversy since 4 out of the 5 appointed members voted against Question 4. Leading the group is chairman, Steven Hoffman, a former business executive who voted “no” on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. When questioned by the media, Hoffman clarified that he’s not opposed to legalization and that his vote reflected concerns regarding the short implementation timeline the ballot measure proposed.

Ahead of the CCC implementing new regulations, the compromise bill already states the following:

  • Licensees can have no more than 3 marijuana retailer licenses, 3 medical marijuana treatment center licenses, 3 marijuana product manufacturer licenses, or 3 marijuana cultivator
  • Penalties for adults 18-21 possessing under two ounces (formerly one) will be reclassified as civil offenses, and criminal offenses for home cultivation by those under 21 have been eliminated.
  • Individuals with prior convictions for marijuana possession can have those records sealed.

We’ll see in the coming months if the CCC adheres to the new timeline and the market for recreational marijuana in Massachusetts finally gets off the ground.

While the election was a big step forward and the bureaucracy a step back, our team at Medicine Man Technologies is hopeful that adult use marijuana is finally on track for Massachusetts. If you are looking to enter the state’s market, our consultants can help you clear any further hurdles and establish a highly successful enterprise when July 2018 finally arrives.

Michigan Recreational Marijuana May Face Bigger Hurdles

Michigan Recreational Marijuana May Face Bigger HurdlesTwo ballot initiatives are now underway for the 2018 election, but it appears that Michigan recreational marijuana may face bigger hurdles than being passed by voters. Medicine Man Technologies has seen it firsthand, the often cavernous gap between legalization and full implementation of both medical and adult-use recreational marijuana. In Michigan, it’s no different – in fact, it might be more complex.

Medical Marijuana’s Rocky Road Since 2008

In November of 2008, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved the compassionate use of medical marijuana by a vote of 63%. Known as the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP), it allowed qualified and registered patients to cultivate up to 12 plants in an enclosed and locked area at their home, as well as possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. It also allowed caregivers to grow 12 plants per patient, up to 5 patients.

While the initial passing of the law was a step in the right direction, MMMP was meant to be further expanded by lawmakers tasked with establishing industry regulations and framework for cultivation, dispensaries, production, transport and more. This infrastructure never materialized. Now, Michigan’s patient population has grown to over 200,000 and the medical marijuana industry has developed in a more organic and less regulated way, with caregivers creating co-ops and hundreds of dispensaries not licensed or protected by the state, but allowed by local governments.

Finally, in September of 2016, three bills were passed and signed by Governor Rick Snyder to regulate the program. Let’s take a quick look at some of the new rules that were passed:

  • Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will continue to oversee the program, and a new Medical Marihuana Licensing Board will review and approve licenses.
  • As of December 15, 2017 (tentatively), applications will be accepted to operate as a grower, processor, transporter, provisioning center (dispensary), or safety compliance facility (testing). There will be restrictions on overlapping interests.
  • License applicants must not have been convicted of or released from incarceration for any felony, including drug-related convictions, in any state for the past 10 years.
  • Along with the application fee, there will also be an annual fee of $5,000 assessed, deposited into the Marihuana Regulatory Fund and used by the state to operate the program.
  • Licenses for growers include three cultivation limits: Class A – 500 plants, Class B – 1,000 plants and Class C – 1,500 plants.
  • Transporters will not take ownership of any medical cannabis or arrange contracts among other businesses. Transport will require 2 people, one remaining with the vehicle at all times.
  • At dispensaries, patients will pay the state’s sales tax as well as an added 3% tax at the register. They will also be able to purchase marihuana infused products such as topicals and edibles.

While these regulations were welcomed by some, it remains to be seen whether existing dispensaries will be shut down and their operators forced to start over from scratch. This could leave thousands of patients without access to medication. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we truly hope that the state will find a way to make the transition as seamless as possible for patients.

What Does This All Mean for Recreational?

Michigan Recreational Marijuana May Face Bigger HurdlesWith so much turmoil and an unstable medical marijuana program, it looks like Michigan recreational marijuana may face bigger hurdles than similar programs in other states. Will the new medical regulations be applied to the adult use recreational market, or will it be another 8 years before lawmakers fully implement a program? For now, proponents of two potential ballot measures are focused on 2018.

Currently, the most viable campaign for recreational marijuana is the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act which is spearheaded by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. On August 15th, the group stated that they are close to securing 200,000 signatures and on track to achieve their goal of 366,000 signatures. At that point, 252,523 will need to be validated to get on the ballot in 2018.

This ballot measure would allow adults who are 21 years of age or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces on their person outside of their home, 10 ounces inside, plus whatever they have growing legally from up to 12 total marijuana plants in a single residence (locked and out of sight). All use in public and driving under the influence will remain illegal.

It will also require the formation of a state-regulated system to license, manage and tax the cultivation, testing, processing, transport and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for adult use. While the proposal does outline certain regulations, such as additional taxes, more work will be needed for the program to launch – and as we’ve seen, it could take time.

Another initiative, Abrogate Prohibition Michigan, seeks to amend Michigan’s constitution to end “all prohibitions on the use of cannabis in any form by any person” as well as abolish regulations, including the imposition of taxes, fines and penalties for marijuana use. Because its sponsor, Timothy Locke, seeks to amend the state’s constitution, a total of 315,654 validated signatures will need to be collected. At this time, the initiative appears to lack the support needed, financial and logistical, to make the ballot.

There’s no doubt that Michigan will experience numerous changes through the end of this year and the coming election year. With the state’s new medical marijuana laws going into effect, it will likely indicate whether or not Michigan recreational marijuana may face bigger hurdles than winning over voters.

To assist with the complexities and changes, Medicine Man Technologies is available to all enterprises and individuals that want to enter the Michigan marketplace, either medical or adult-use recreational. We offer a variety of options, from seminars to private consulting and much more. We’ve assisted legal cannabis operations from coast to coast, and we’re here to support you, too.

Canada Looks to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Canada Looks to Legalize Recreational MarijuanaAt Medicine Man Technologies, we’re keeping a close eye on our northern neighbors as Canada looks to legalize recreational marijuana for adult-use by July 2018. In April of this year, a plan was announced by the Canadian government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. If passed, the law would make them the second nation in the world to make such a move. Uruguay was the first.

The plan includes developing a system for Canada’s federal government to regulate marijuana cultivation, distribution and sales, as well as manage licensing, taxes and all associated fees. Provinces would then have the ability to pass further laws regarding sales and distribution, as well as increasing the minimum legal age of 18. In addition to retail purchasing, adults would be able to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana and grow up to four plants per household.

Like many legal, adult-use recreational marijuana laws here in the states, Canada would prohibit driving while impaired and implement strict laws regarding taking marijuana over its borders.

On his website, Prime Minister Trudeau stated, “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

Three Major Hurdles

While the bill is yet to receive Parliament’s official approval and may face some changes before becoming law, its outlook is good. Canada’s House of Commons is controlled by the Liberals and an even more liberal faction, the New Democratic Party, is also on board with legalization. As for Conservatives, they are a small minority and don’t pose any substantial threat to the bill.

One wild card is Canada’s Senate which typically does not veto or delay legislation passed by the House. However, they have recently begun to assert more authority, so interference should not be completely ruled out. Beyond adult-use recreational marijuana passing Parliament, there are three major hurdles that will also need to be addressed. Let’s take a closer look at those.

  1. Withdrawal from International Treaties

Since 1961, Canada has signed three UN drug treaties pledging to ban marijuana. Leaving these treaties requires a notice period. However, in order to keep the promise of legalizing marijuana by July 1, 2018, Canada would have needed to give the UN notice by Canada Day which has now passed. There are still ways to legalize marijuana without violating the treaties, including a delay of the legalization date, constitutional amendment (not likely), or on the grounds of performing scientific research. This final option would require some legal creativity to achieve. How Canada plans to accomplish this still remains to be seen.

  1. Efforts to Change the Advertising Rules

In accordance with federal task force recommendations, adult-use recreational marijuana businesses would only be allowed to distribute basic details, much like rules for the tobacco industry, such as price, strain, and company name. Now, Canadian marijuana businesses have joined forces with Advertising Standards Canada to draft guidelines and lobby the government to be able to advertise and brand their products. Their goal is to be able to better differentiate their products from each other and those sold on the black market.

  1. Canada’s Premiers Want More Time

Because Canada has empowered each territory to decide its own regulations for taxation, as well as determine who is allowed to sell, consume, and purchase adult-use recreational marijuana, Canadian premiers have indicated that they need more time to develop these rules. They’ve met with push back from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has insisted that the country will meet the July 1, 2018 date. The government has stated that it has a backup plan for those provinces that fail to establish regulations, though details are not yet known.

Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we are hopeful that the bill will be passed and everything will be in place as Canada looks to legalize recreational marijuana for adult-use by July 2018. If you are planning to enter Canada’s adult-use recreational marijuana market next year, please reach out to our team for assistance. We offer consultations on all aspects of the business, ensuring you’re in compliance and on the right track for success.

California Senate Has Replaced MCRSA with SB 94

California Senate Has Replaced MCRSA with SB 94At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the west coast and were pleased to hear that the California Senate has replaced MCRSA with SB 94. The latest and greatest evolution of the state’s laws, SB 94 essentially repeals the existing Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) while incorporating certain policies into the licensing provisions set forth by the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), also known as Proposition 64, which was passed by voters in November of last year.

Under the new bill, this consolidation of provisions into a hybrid program is known as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). The outcome is a regulatory structure that’s intended to be more operator-friendly. The California Growers Association remarked that the bill was “a thoughtful and robust foundation for a well-regulated cannabis marketplace in California.”

What SB 94 Means for California Cannabis

The new MAUCRSA structure would generally impose the same requirements on both commercial medicinal and commercial adult-use cannabis activity, with specific exceptions. Highlights of the changes include the following:

  • The Bureau of Cannabis Control is now the governing regulatory agency. Control of industrial hemp fibers will be transferred to the Department of Food and Agriculture.
  • The currently available licenses remain the same. “M-licenses” for medicinal operators and “A-licenses” for commercial adult-use operators. A single holder of both types of licenses are required to keep premises separate and distinct, however, this might only require a physical barrier versus a completely separate location.
  • Micro-business licenses, specialty cottage cultivation licenses, and indoor, outdoor, and mixed-light cultivation licenses will be offered for both recreational and medicinal marijuana operators and made available on or by January 1, 2023.
  • Vertical integration prohibitions that were part of MCRSA have been removed while the ban on large-scale cultivators remains. Other cultivators can now apply and be approved for multiple licenses in different categories, including acting as their own distributor.
  • Transporter and producing dispensary licenses are not available under MAUCRSA.
  • Retailers are now allowed to have a brick-and-mortar store that is not open to the public and only sells cannabis through delivery.
  • With MAUCRSA, applicants may show prior compliance with local laws prior to obtaining state licenses. The city or county now is responsible for alerting the state within 60 days if the applicant is not in compliance with local laws.
  • Changes to testing, inspection, and quality assurance are also part of SB 94. Distributors must store cannabis on their premises during testing and will be responsible for quality assurance reviews for labeling and packaging compliance.
  • The residency requirement has now been removed. This means that foreign and out-of-state companies are now allowed to sell both medicinal and recreational marijuana. This will not stop some cities counties from creating their own residency requirements.
  • Advertising requirements which regulate online advertisements and create a universal edible cannabis symbol have been added.
  • The cannabis excise tax will be measured by the average market price (as defined) of the retail sale, instead of by the gross receipts of the retail sale.

There are a number of additional changes as well. Overall, the team here at Medicine Man Technologies sees this bill as a positive and comprehensive step towards creating a sensible framework for California’s expanding cannabis market.

What’s Next for AUMA in California

California Senate Has Replaced MCRSA with SB 94Now that the California Senate has replaced MCRSA with SB 94 and the bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown at the end of June, the state can more easily move forward in establishing a system for adult-use, recreational cannabis. Several license types should be made available in January of 2018 at which point retail sales may commence. For now, adults who are 21 years of age and over can consume and possess up to an ounce of flowers or eight grams of concentrate. They can also grow up to six plants in an enclosed area hidden from view or in their homes.

If you are considering entering California’s cannabis industry, our experts at Medicine Man Technologies can help you understand and navigate the new rules implemented by SB 94. We’ve helped clients from coast to coast with everything from applications and licensing to the deployment
of world-class cultivation and dispensary operations. Our consultants will ensure you’re able to set up a compliant and successful venture.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana, Now Taking Applications

Arkansas Medical MarijuanaAt Medicine Man Technologies, we’re excited to see that the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment is moving to its next phase of implementation. As of June 30, 2017, the state’s Department of Health is taking applications for medical marijuana registry identification cards, and if you would like to operate a cultivation facility or dispensary, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will now take your application.

We’re very aware of how complicated all of these processes can be and our Medicine Man Technologies team has helped numerous clients in several states with their applications and licenses. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about applying in Arkansas.

Applying for a Dispensary License

The MMC will certify up to 32 dispensaries to operate across the state, 4 in each of the 8 geographic zones. Applications must be hand delivered by September 18, 2107 and include the $7,500 fee (half is refunded if a license is not rewarded). While selection was previously lottery-based, it was changed in April to be a merit-based system. Here’s more:

  • Individual applicants must be current Arkansas residents who have resided in the state for at least 7 consecutive years prior to the application date.
  • For enterprises, at least 60% of the equity of applicants must be owned by Arkansas residents.
  • You may not have interest in more than 1 Arkansas cultivation and 1 dispensary operation.
  • You must provide proof that your proposed dispensary location is at least 1,500 feet from a public or private school, church or daycare – from your main entry to the nearest property line. The MCC recently defined schools as K-12 institutions, excluding colleges and universities.
  • Applicants must provide proof of assets or surety bond of $200,000, and at least $100,000 in liquid assets. If the applicant posts a surety bond, it must be maintained until the applicant has withdrawn, been denied, or if selected, paid the licensing fee and submitted to the MMC a performance bond of $100,000.
  • If selected, the initial licensing fee for growing and non-growing dispensaries is $15,000 and annual renewals are $22,500.
  • All identities on applications (both cultivation and dispensary) will be removed so that the commissioners will not know the personal identity of the applicants.
  • With the new merit system, bonus points will be added to the application if the majority of the ownership belongs to veterans or minorities. Whether or not you opt to also grow medical marijuana will not have an effect on merit.

Applying for a Cultivation License

Arkansas Medical MarijuanaTo supply the state’s 32 dispensaries, the MMC will approve 5 cultivation sites. Again, applications must be hand delivered by September 18, 2107 and include a $15,000 fee with half returned if you are not awarded. Licenses will also be granted based on a merit-based system with all residency and ownership requirements listed in the first three bullet points applicable to cultivation operations. Key differences:

  • You must provide proof that your proposed cultivation location is at least 3,000 feet from a public or private school, church or daycare – from your main entry to the nearest property line.
  • Applicants must provide proof of assets or surety bond of $1,000,000, and at least $500,000 in liquid assets. If the applicant posts a surety bond, it must be maintained until the applicant has withdrawn, been denied, or if selected, paid the licensing fee and submitted to the MMC a performance bond of $500,000.
  • Your performance bond must then be maintained until your cultivation facility files its first required sales tax report Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration for the sale of usable marijuana.
  • If selected, the initial licensing fee and subsequent annual renewals are $100,000 in certified funds due within 7 days after receiving written notice from the MMC.

Applying for an Arkansas Medical Marijuana Registry ID Card

The state has made it easy for adults (18+) to apply by offering an online option or the ability to print out the form and mail it to the Department of Health. When applying, you’ll need to provide your proof of Arkansas residency (driver’s license or state ID), pay the non-refundable $50 application fee and have a Physician Written Certification (doctors may be contacted to verify) for a qualifying condition:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six (6) months
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

If you suffer from any other medical conditions not listed, you also have the option of petitioning the Department of Health. Within a 120-day window, a hearing will take place and your request will be either approved or denied. The Arkansas Drug Policy Education Group is also working to add more conditions such as: ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, autism, severe insomnia, migraines and more.

Here are a few other items you’ll need to know when applying:

  • Once received the Department of Health, it will take up to 14 days to process everything and cards will be issued one month before medical marijuana is available at dispensaries.
  • Both patient and caregiver applications and renewals require payment of a $50 fee.
  • If completed online, a caregiver criminal background check is an added $34. If the caregiver has more than one patient, they must apply and pay for a registry card for each patient.
  • Your Arkansas medical marijuana registry ID card is valid for 1 year from the date it was issued or the amount of time chosen by your physician. If your card expires, your legal protection expires and you will not be able to purchase medical marijuana.
  • In April of 2017, the state’s legislature passed Act 479 which bans Arkansas National Guard or U.S. military members from being patients or caregivers.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of information to digest when applying for the Arkansas medical marijuana program, especially in the areas of cultivation and dispensary operations. To help you make sense of all the rules and regulations, Medicine Man Technologies offers private consulting. Our team has the experience to help you navigate your way to success.

Medical Marijuana in Florida Signed into Law

Medical Marijuana in Florida Signed into LawIt’s been a long, strange trip for medical marijuana in Florida, culminating in Governor Rick Scott signing medical marijuana into law on June 23, 2017. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been watching this situation unfold in Florida ever since voters approved Amendment 2 last year by a vote of 71%. Now, the state’s legislature has officially amended current medical marijuana laws to reflect the ballot measure by passing Senate Bill 8-A and receiving Governor Scott’s signature to seal the deal.

Early Days of Medical Marijuana in Florida

Previously, Florida voters failed to pass a similar medical marijuana amendment in 2014, securing just 58% of the required 60% supermajority vote needed to implement a (state) constitutional amendment.

Following the defeat, the state’s legislature did pass the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which was considered a highly imperfect law. It only granted patients suffering from epilepsy, cancer and medical issues causing ongoing seizures or severe muscle spasms access to low-THC cannabis with 0.8% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10% of cannabidiol. It also granted just a limited number of cultivation and distribution licenses, further restricting access. Ultimately, because of its many flaws, medical marijuana operations in the state never truly got off the ground.  

Fast forward to early 2016 and the passing of HB 307, which expanded the 2014 law to give terminally ill patients access to full-strength medical marijuana. Again, there were issues such as needing certification from 2 physicians, including one specialist, and at least a 3-month relationship with those doctors.

Florida’s Amendment 2 Hits the Right Notes

During the 2017 November election cycle, the tides turned for medical marijuana in Florida and the constitutional amendment passed with 71% approval. Amendment 2 was far more inclusive, providing either low-THC cannabis or full strength medical marijuana to patients suffering from a wider range of conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain
  • Comparable conditions to those enumerated
  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification

Amendment 2 gave the state’s Department of Health the responsibility of regulating medical marijuana cultivation and treatment centers, as well as registering and issuing ID cards to patients and caregivers (who can buy marijuana on the behalf of a patient). The Department was also required to finalize all of their regulations by June 3, 2017, and issue ID cards for medical marijuana in Florida later in the year.

It Takes a Special Session to Pass Senate Bill 8-A

After Amendment 2 passed, the Florida Department of Health released preliminary text for its medical marijuana rules in January of 2017 and held five public hearings to seek feedback from residents. Initial reactions to the proposed regulations were inherently negative, pointing to the Department’s limiting access to the 10 specifically listed medical conditions, but leaving out physician discretion for use in other situations and continuing to limit the number of licensed dispensaries.

Amendment 2 was later addressed by the state’s legislature where the rules were to be finalized during the 2017 session. The legislation, HB 1397, appeared to be on its way to passing but fell apart at the last moment when both chambers could not come to an agreement on how many retail dispensaries could be authorized to operate. It appeared that the rules would be again be left to the Department of Health to finalize in order to meet the deadline.

Medical Marijuana in Florida Signed into LawFortunately, Governor Scott called for a special session of the legislature to be held in June. While the call was initially made to address issues with the state’s budget, House Speaker Richard Corcoran stated that medical marijuana in Florida would also be included. He was quoted as saying required, “Obviously 71% of the voters have called for something. There should be no reason why we can’t reach agreements and get that done and so my hope is that it will be added to the call.”

During the special session, Senate Bill 8-A was introduced by Senator Bradley (R) and finally passed by both chambers. Governor Scott then signed it into law on June 23, 2017.

Senate Bill 8-A: Highlights of the New Florida Law

One of the most significant features of the passed law is that despite the Department of Health’s initial rules text, it does allow physicians to certify use for patients with chronic pain and ailments comparable to those specifically listed. It also removes the 3-month treatment prerequisite, expands the “45-day supply” rule to a 30-week certification and allows full-strength medical marijuana for certified patients.

The Department of Health will begin issuing licenses for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in July, granting the holder the unrestricted ability to cultivate, process, transport and dispense medical cannabis. License holders will also be able to open up to 25 dispensary operations across the state. The law allows for 10 new growers right away, which will more than double the state’s current count of 7. Once patient registration numbers reach 100,000, 4 more MMTC licenses will be made available. This incremental process will then repeat for every 100,000 patients added to the registry.

Consulting to Cultivation, We’re Here to Help

Now that medical marijuana in Florida has been signed into law by Governor Scott, Medicine Man Technologies looks forward to helping individuals and enterprises wanting to enter the market. We offer private consultations, assist with legal cannabis cultivation, offer operations training and so much more.

You can also visit us at these conferences: The Moneyshow in San Francisco, GrowX Detroit, or the MJ Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.