MEDICINE MAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Numerous Bills Passed to Improve Cannabis Laws in New Mexico

Cannabis Laws in New MexicoBack in 2007, New Mexico became the 12th state to legalize medical cannabis and create a sustainable state-wide system. Since its implementation, areas for improvement were identified and House Bill 527 was approved by the legislature in 2017. Although the measure easily passed with bipartisan support, Republican Governor Susan Martinez vetoed the bill once it arrived at her desk.

Fast forward to 2018 and the state’s registry has grown to nearly 60,000 patients. Democrat Michelle Luján Grisham, who supports both medial and adult use cannabis, has taken office as Governor. Changes happen quickly, including Albuquerque decriminalizing the possession of under an ounce of cannabis to a mere $25 civil fine. To improve the shortfall of medical cannabis for the program, a judge removes the 450-plant cap on licensed cannabis producers and the Department of Health ups the count to 2,500.

While the 2018 legislative session ended before a vote on measures to further decriminalize cannabis and regulate adult use cannabis (HB 312), it seems that New Mexico was far from done with improving cannabis laws in New Mexico.

New Laws Approved During the 2019 Session

This year, several bills focused on improving cannabis laws in New Mexico were once again introduced and passed during the legislative session. Governor Luján Grisham is expected to sign them any day, and the new laws will go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Here’s a quick rundown of the bills that were passed to improve cannabis laws in New Mexico:

  • Senate Bill 406 expands the current medical cannabis program to offer treatment for patients who suffer from PTSD, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, severe chronic pain and more. It also provides legal protection for employees based only on their medical cannabis status and failure to pass a drug test. In addition, SB 406 lifts limits on the percentage of THC and other cannabinoids allowed in commercial products.
  • In tandem to SB 406, Senate Bill 204 establishes rules and guidelines for public schools to store and administer medical cannabis products to students during school hours.
  • Senate Bill 323 was passed to more broadly decriminalize cannabis in the state. It will no longer be a criminal misdemeanor for first-time possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis which previously carried a possible punishment of up to 15 days in jail. It will be considered a “penalty assessment” subject to a $50 fine. However, multiple offenses and larger quantities will still be punishable with a jail sentence.
  • Finally, House Bill 581 sets out to create a regulatory structure allowing New Mexico to engage in the hemp industry in accordance with the 2018 Federal Farm Act. The framework would cover research, production, testing, manufacturing and the transport of hemp and hemp products.

As for a bill to legalize, regulate and tax adult use cannabis, a narrowly-passed House measure made its way to the Senate during the 2019 session. While it passed one Senate Committee, HB 356 stalled and once it reached the Senate Finance Committee where the Chair, conservative Democrat John Arthur Smith, failed to call the bill for a vote. He stated that an appropriations bill was his committee’s priority.

However, all hope is not lost for cannabis laws in New Mexico. Governor Luján Grisham has already stated that she will place adult use on the agenda for next year’s legislative session.

The Medicine Man Technologies team will be sure to provide updates on New Mexico – stay tuned.

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


Texas Looks to Expand & Improve 2015 Compassionate Use Act

2015 Compassionate Use ActIn Texas, the current medical cannabis system is one of the most limited out there. Patients must be permanent residents of the state, and intractable epilepsy is the only qualifying condition. Right now, there are just three dispensaries operating, smoking is outlawed along with home cultivation, and only CBD oils with minimal levels of THC are available for treatments.

As State Senator José Menéndez says, “The current Compassionate Use Act in Texas is worthless. We say to cancer patients, ‘I’m sorry, you’re not worthy of it. HIV patients, sorry. Glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis C, you name it, you’re just not worthy.’”

New Measures and Potential Hope for Patients

The limitations of the 2015 Compassionate Use Act are finally being addressed by state lawmakers. Its original author, Republican State Representative Stephanie Klick, has now introduced House Bill 3703 to expand qualifying conditions to include broader forms of epilepsy and spasticity, plus multiple sclerosis.

In addition, 12 other bills have been brought to the table during the current legislative session in Texas. Most promising among them are companion bills, SB 90 and HB 209. Authored by Senator José Menéndez and Representative Eddie Lucio III respectively, these measures take things even further than Klick:

  • Qualifying conditions would include autism, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, cancer, HIV, AIDS and more.
  • It would allow doctors to treat medical cannabis as a standard option just like other available medicines as well as recommend it for chronic medical conditions and severe pain or nausea.
  • The measure would raise the low-level THC requirement, currently 0.5 percent per weight.

During the 2017 legislative session, Menéndez introduced a similar bill that failed to receive a Senate committee hearing. Meanwhile in the House, Lucio’s companion bill garnered extensive, bi-partisan support and had 80 co-sponsors, but time ran out before the measure made it to the floor for a vote.

One bill to watch is HB 63, filed by Representative Joe Moody and aimed at decriminalization. If passed, possession of an ounce or less of cannabis would no longer be considered a criminal offense and only be subject to a maximum civil fine of $250. This bill has already received a hearing, but there is no vote yet.

Do These Bills Have What It Takes in 2019?

The 2015 Compassionate Use Act faced fierce criticism and Klick was even booed by fellow lawmakers, so it’s no surprise that these current measures will face an uphill battle. The biggest obstacle will likely be Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick who presides over the Texas Senate and has the power to prevent any bill from reaching the upper chamber for a vote.

In regards to Patrick’s stance on medical cannabis, spokesperson Alejandro Garcia has stated that he is, “strongly opposed to weakening any laws against marijuana [and] remains wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.”

Some see his stance as out of step with public opinion. In fact, according to a 2018 poll conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune, 84% of Texans support cannabis legalization for certain uses. On the flipside, only 16% want it to remain illegal under any conditions.

According to Menéndez, Democrat and especially Republican supporters of medical cannabis should get in contact with their representatives, as well as Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott. He implored, “Voters who identify as Republicans who agree, which I know there are many, we need to have them reach out to our elected officials and say, ‘Hey, I’m a Republican primary voter, and I need you to get on board with this. This is not a partisan issue. You’re way off base.’”

Because Texas is one of the few states where the legislature only meets every other year, there’s a lot at stake in 2019. If an expansion of the 2015 Compassionate Care Act doesn’t happen now, an opportunity for medical cannabis reform will have to wait until 2021.

Our team here at Medicine Man Technologies will be sure to keep you in the loop.

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


South Carolina Compassionate Care Act Could Be Passed in 2019

South Carolina Compassionate Care ActIn January, South Carolina lawmakers, Senator Tom Davis and State Representative Peter McCoy, once again introduced the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act to the General Assembly. While a similar bill was introduced during the 2018 session and passed by several committees, it never made it to the House and Senate floor for a final vote before the legislative session concluded in May of last year.

The Compassionate Care Act would vastly expand upon Senate Bill 1035 which was passed in 2014 but only gave patients with severe and rare forms of epilepsy the legal protection to use CBD oil to control their seizures if a doctor recommended it and other treatments proved ineffective. Known as Julian’s Law, it did not establish any type of infrastructure to dispense medical cannabis. This forced patients, caregivers and parents of minor patients to travel out of state or turn to the black market.

A key advocate of the legislation is the South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance which was founded by Jill Swing whose daughter suffers from intractable epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Due to the lack of a full-fledged medical cannabis program, she states, “It forces moms like us onto the black market to get medicine for our kids. That’s just not the way you want to access your child’s medicine.”

Swing and her group support, “in-state cultivation and a truly state-regulated product so we will know that it is what it says it is and that it’s grown under specific requirements. We want to know that what we’re giving our children – if nothing else – a safe and consistent product.”

What’s Included in the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act

Like many other medical cannabis programs, patients will need to apply for a registration card through the state’s health department (DHEC). To be approved, they must have at least one qualifying medical condition and a recommendation from their physician with whom they have a bona fide relationship. All patients between 18 and 23 years of age are required to have certification letters from two doctors.

Eligible illnesses include cancer, a neurological disease or disorder, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell anemia, glaucoma, PTSD, cachexia or wasting syndrome, epilepsy, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, conditions causing a patient to be home-bound due to severe or persistent nausea, and terminal illnesses (with less than one year to live). Over time, more conditions may be added by a Medical Cannabis Review Board.

Now, here’s an overview of the program according to the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act in its current form:

  • It would be managed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and monitored by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
  • A Medical Cannabis Review Board would be formed and include representatives from the SLED, DHEC and eight other members chosen by the governor and approved by the state senate.
  • Licensing through the DHEC will be available for 15 cannabis cultivators, 30 processing facilities and 5 testing laboratories. Fees are yet to be determined.
  • The DHEC would also license at least one privately owned dispensary in each county and at most one dispensary for every 20 pharmacies in the state.
  • Dispensaries must not be located within 1,000 feet of a school (specific exceptions apply) and employ a pharmacist, physician assistant or licensed practical nurse.
  • Medical cannabis can be used in forms such as vaporized oil, gel caps, suppositories, patches or topical creams. It cannot be sold or smoked in leaf form and violations are subject to $150 fine.
  • Registered patients and caregivers will be allowed to purchase and possess up to two ounces of dried cannabis (per patient) every two weeks. How that translates to approved products will be determined by the DHEC.
  • Patients and caregivers will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.
  • Doctors, patients, caregivers, medical cannabis businesses, accountants, lawyers and any other entities associated with the program will have legal protection against arrest or prosecution for activities allowed under the Compassionate Care Act.

With the ban on smoking and a need for young adults to obtain two recommendations, the program has been designed to prevent recreational use of cannabis. According to Senator Davis, “It is, I am confident to say, the most strictly regulated, socially conservative medical cannabis bill in the United States.”

The Final Hurdle and Wildcard, Governor Henry McMaster

At this point, it’s not just lawmakers that are on board with the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. During the Democratic primary held in June of 2018, voters overwhelmingly approved a non-binding measure allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for their patients. The final vote was 82% in favor.

It appears that the biggest challenge will be Gov. McMaster. At this point, there’s no indication that he would sign a medical cannabis bill into law. In a 2017 interview with ABC Columbia News, he made the following statement, “From what I have learned about, and what I know and what I’ve seen, it’s a bad idea to legalize marijuana. It would hurt the people, particularly the young people.” He also told the reporter that he doubted a medical cannabis bill would ever make it to his desk.

It’s now possible that we’ll see if the governor will change his stance or impede the will of the people. And Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping a close eye on the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act progresses.

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


Colorado appears ready to open cannabis markets to outside investors

Colorado’s $1.5 billion-a-year marijuana industry appears on the threshold of opening its recreational and medical markets to a potential rush of outside investors and capital, almost a year after former Gov. John Hickenlooper shot down similar legislation.

Bipartisan legislation that would allow publicly held companies to both invest in and hold marijuana licenses in Colorado is being considered again this legislative session – and this time, odds are good it will pass and become law. A state House panel is scheduled to take up the bill Monday.

Dean Heizer, executive director and chief legal strategist for LivWell Enlightened Health, a Colorado-based marijuana retail operator, said the current law barring outside investment puts the state at a disadvantage versus those that don’t have such restrictions.

“What we’re seeing now is states like California, Florida, Massachusetts bring in capital to get ahead of us in infrastructure, R&D, new-product development,” Heizer said.

“That’s not something the Silicon Valley of cannabis – Colorado – should allow to happen.”

Colorado lawmakers passed a similar bill last year, but it was vetoed by Hickenlooper, who called it “premature,” partly because the industry is still illegal on a federal basis and lacks banking services.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, also expressed concerns about the potential for criminal enterprises to get a foothold in Colorado’s marijuana market. After Hickenlooper’s veto, local cannabis companies threatened to leave Colorado.

New regime, new promise?

Cannabis entrepreneurs in the state have cheered the fact that new Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has positioned himself as a champion of marijuana issues, and MJ industry officials are confident he will back the investment measure as long as it has strong safeguards.

The current law limits out-of-state owners to 15 people. That not only eliminates the potential for a public stock offering or a merger with a publicly held company, but it also shuts out capital raises from venture capital funds that have more than 15 investors.

“We’ve been hindered in our growth because our laws restricted outside ownership and investment,” said Andy Williams, CEO of Denver-based marijuana grower and retailer Medicine Man.

“This is a little late but allows Colorado companies to compete with the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Without it, Colorado would fall further behind.”

But Chris Woods, owner of Boulder-based dispensary chain Terrapin Care Station, told Colorado Public Radio he opposes the measure.

He said he is concerned that opening the state’s industry to outside investors would lead to more black-market activity.

Several businesses, including Medicine Man and LivWell, were so frustrated with Hickenlooper’s veto last year they threatened to move their headquarters to more business-friendly cannabis states.

Heizer said LivWell has a contingency plan to move all its non-licensed assets to Nevada “unless we get this bill done this year.”

Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group in Denver, which represents more than 500 licensees, said her members have been talking about this need for a number of years.

But “for us, the inflection point” came after Hickenlooper’s veto last year.

Hefty price for Colorado MJ firms

Kelly said the industry experienced a flight of capital.

While it’s impossible to quantify how much Colorado lost, she said she heard from members that had deals fall apart “because investors wanted to go to friendlier states.”

What became very clear, she said, was that this is an issue for both big and small businesses.

“When public and private money gets signals that there are potential challenges in a particular investment,” Kelly said, “they make choices to go to places that are more attractive. Why put money into a market that limits your exit?”

Because of Colorado’s restrictive environment, marijuana businesses have a lower valuation and have “had to give up more to gain the capital” that is permissible in the state, Kelly said.

That has been the price for being a pioneer in recreational marijuana.

“Colorado put its model together first and put in place guardrails specific to ownership that was incredibly restrictive and specific by design,” Kelly noted.

The bill is scheduled to get a hearing Monday in the state House Finance Committee. Some of the language was still being worked on this week.

The latest public version of the bill would:

  • Repeal provisions that limit the number of out-of-state owners to 15 people, stipulations that effectively block publicly traded companies and many venture-capital funds from participating in the market.
  • No longer prohibit publicly traded companies from holding a Colorado marijuana license.
  • Eliminate provisions that require limited passive investors (less than a 10% interest in a business) to go through an initial background check.
  • Create two new kinds of ownership licenses. One would be for those owning at least a 10% stake in a cannabis licensee; the other would be for passive investors owning less than 10%.
  • Require state regulators to issue rules within 60 days once the legislation becomes law.

The legislation would put in place certain safeguards such as requiring:

  • Publicly traded businesses or controlling investors to receive a finding of “suitability” from the state licensing authority.
  • Those individuals or businesses to disclose owners with at least a 10% stake as well as officers, directors and affiliates. Individuals owning at least a 10% interest in an MJ business, business managers, officers and other employees also would have to pass a fingerprint-based, criminal background check.
  • Publicly traded companies to comply with various disclosure and reporting provisions.

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeffs@mjbizdaily.com


Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Adult Use Cannabis in Connecticut

Adult Use Cannabis in ConnecticutWhen the Connecticut General Assembly convened in January, lawmakers wasted no time introducing several bills to legalize adult use cannabis. While the state currently has a medical cannabis program in place, more reform appears to be on the horizon. If a bill is passed by both House and Senate, it’s likely that Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont would be on board with legalization.

In his first state budget address, Gov. Lamont recognized an adult-use market as potential revenue for the state. Along with other proposals, he called for “legalized recreational marijuana like our neighbors, that will be carefully regulated for a safer market, with tax.” And according to the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, Connecticut could potentially see $45.4 million, up to $104.6 million in tax revenue annually.

At this point, the most detailed option is HB 5595 which was co-sponsored by 40 state representatives. Two others, HB 6863 and SB 744 are general calls to expand the medical cannabis program and legalize, regulate and tax “recreational” cannabis sales.

Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), had this to say about the early proposals, “Some of them are just shells with no real language… The real question is what path this will end up taking through the legislature.”

What Adult Use Would Look Like Under HB 5595

Though brief, HB 5595 provides the most robust outline for adult use cannabis in Connecticut. The bill includes the following highlights:

  • Retail sales of adult use cannabis will be legal for those 21 years of age and older
  • Adults will also be able to home grow up to 6 plants for personal use only
  • The Department of Consumer Protection will be responsible for program oversight
  • Currently licensed (medical) dispensaries will have first priority for adult use licensing
  • Driving while impaired and public consumption will be prohibited
  • Marketing will be prohibited and packaging must be child-safe and clearly labeled
  • Ensures that medical cannabis will not be subject to adult use sales or excise taxes
  • Expunges records for anyone who has been convicted for cannabis possession

In addition, HB 5595 requires that tax revenue from retail sales will be applied to the following: drug awareness education and substance abuse treatment, cannabis testing, studies focused on the effect of cannabis legalization and consumption, stationing drug-prevention officers at schools, and developing a program to prevent distracted driving and driving under the influence of cannabis.

The next step for the bill that garners the most support will be a legislative committee that will continue to add and adjust the language. With a committee vote in favor of moving it forward, the revised bill will then go to the floor of the Connecticut General Assembly, both House and Senate, for even more debate and eventually voting. The final stop will be Gov. Lamont’s desk.

Will Adult Use Cannabis in Connecticut Become a Reality?

Though there are those who oppose legalizing adult use cannabis, the early bill proposals by lawmakers and support of Gov. Lamont are certainly good signs.

As for public sentiment regarding adult use cannabis in Connecticut, the most recent data from an October 2017 poll conducted by Sacred Heart University shows that 71% of residents either strongly support or somewhat support legalizing and taxing cannabis in the context of the state’s budget crisis.

And according to Matt Simon, “The good news is, the mood is on. They’re really talking about these things, and soon I expect there will be public hearings and public committee action advancing one or more of these bills.”

At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hoping that the momentum and support will continue to build in the months to come. It’s certainly a positive start, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on all progress.

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


ADDITIONAL STORIES

Ryan Allway | CFN Media Group (October 3 2016) Medicine Man (MDCL): Building a Leading Cannabis Brand Warehouse

Matt Koesters | WCPO contributor (September 25 2016) Could marijuana become a treatment for heroin addicts?

ABC 6 On Your Side, By Liz Bonis, WKRC (September 8 2016) Can medical marijuana help addicts transition off heroin and opioids?

Cleveland.com (September 8 2016) Colorado marijuana businesses optimistic about Ohio medical marijuana law (video)

Forbes Magazine (August 27, 2016) Act 16 legalized Medical Marijuana in PA! How Long Till Patients Have Access?

Forbes Magazine (August 27, 2016) Four Cannabis Entrepreneurs Share Their Strangest Moments

New Cannabis Ventures (August 12, 2016) Medicine Man Technologies to Issue $12.6mm in Stock to Buy Pono Publications and Success Nutrients

The Denver Post (July 28, 2016) Marijuana industry ditches burnout image for “suit and tie” approach to DNC

Leafbuyer (July, 2016) Leafbuyer presents The 2016 Power List

OEN OpEdNews.com (June 27, 2016) Pot-Powered Family Business, Growing Like a Weed in Denver

Philly Voice (May 20, 2016) – This weekend, the business of pot comes to Philly

Inc. ( April 20, 2016) – The Marijuana Business Is Really the Real Estate Business

MJINews – Marijuana Investor News (April 15, 2016) Medicine Man Technologies Inc. Shows A Profit In Its First Full Year Of Operations

Marijuana Business Daily (April 14, 2016) With Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana a Reality, Attention Turns to Regulations

New Cannabis Ventures ( April 2, 2016) 7 Experts Discuss Best Practices On Taking Your Cannabis Company Public

PR NewsWire (March 23, 2016) Medicine Man Technologies to Present at MoneyShow Cannabis Investing Virtual Event on March 30

New Cannabis Ventures (March 23, 2016) Cannabis Investing Virtual Event Features Canopy Growth, MassRoots and Medicine Man Technologies

US News and World Reports (March 17, 2016) How to Invest in Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana Business Daily (January 5, 2016) A Look Ahead: Marijuana Retail, Cultivation & Industry Trends to Watch in 2016

Westword (September 14, 2015 )Taking Stock of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry – Westword Magazine article about Medicine Man Technologies becoming a publicly traded company

CFN Media Group CFN Interview with Andy Williams – CEO of Medicine Man

CNN (January 24, 2015) Colorado’s Booming Marijuana Industry – Medicine Man was featured in this recent CNN story about our Grow Technology.

The Denver Post (January 19, 2014): Family-owned pot shop in Denver seeks to become national player

The Denver Post (June 15, 2014): Reluctance of banks leaves pot shops looking for secure practices

TIME Magazine: Pot’s Money Problem

Playboy: Chronic Insecurity

Denver Business Journal: Colorado’s dispensaries will be its first recreational marijuana sellers as well

Orlando Business Journal: 5 ways to capitalize on medical marijuana

Natural Products Insider: Recreational Marijuana: How One Denver Dispensary Is Soaring to New Highs

Slate.com: A Look at Medicine Man, One of Colorado’s Largest Marijuana Dispensaries

Fox 31 Denver: Colorado pot pioneers will soon rake in the green

BBC News Tour: Inside a Colorado marijuana factory

NBC’s Today Show: Medicine Man Denver on The Today Show 1-27-14

Katie Couric Show: Katie Couric Goes Inside a Marijuana Store

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