Regulatory Update: Arizona, Kansas, Montana, And New Jersey
Arizona Issues New Draft Legalization Rules, Will Start To Accept Cannabis Business Application Soon
During November’s election, a majority of Arizona voters said “yes” to recreational cannabis.
Some two months later, Arizona’s Department of Health Services issued a new draft of rules in relation to the adult-use marijuana program, and it will commence accepting cannabis business licenses applications next week (h/t Marijuana Moment).
The first draft was released in December. Since then, there haven’t been many adjustments with the exception of cannabis credentialing, which was broadened from one specific facility to any cannabis operation in the industry.
The improved draft of rules tackles public safety protocols, fees, product labeling, marijuana sales, and many more, with marijuana testing facilities to be included later.
Those cannabis businesses who want to become part of the adult-use industry will be able to apply from Jan. 19 throughl March 9. Once the rules are completed, approved applicants may start with marijuana sales to all adults over 21 as early as February, although it is yet not officially announced when sales will commence.
Kansas Considers Legalizing Medical Marijuana In 2021
Two separate bills proposing the legalization of medicinal cannabis use were turned down in Kansas last year.
Yet, hemp production and the sale of CBD-infused products with zero THC are already legal in Kansas.
Cannabis advocates in the Sunflower state are taking a new approach, per Marijuana Moment.
They are trying to form the legislation that will please “both sides of the aisle," Daniel Shafton, a consultant for the Kansas Cannabis Business Association, said.
A bill should be filed during the first week of the legislative session, and it would be more conservatively formed, with the possibility for later modification, Erin Montroy, co-president and CEO of the KSCBA told the publication
The state’s budget has been negatively impacted by the global pandemic, and the belief is that medical marijuana could be "an innovative solution to increase state revenue and improve Kansas’ overall health and economy,” said Reeves Oyster, spokeswoman for Gov. Laura Kelly.
Montana Lawmakers Decline First Budget Request For Launching Cannabis Program
Last year, Montana officially became the 14th state to legalize adult-use cannabis, with 58% of voters saying yes to the initiative during the November election.
Nevertheless, it takes a long road from saying yes to a huge initiative like this to actually putting everything into practice. However, according to High Times, Montana may miss its deadline to have all license application accepted by Jan. 1, 2022.
State lawmakers declined the first budget request of $1.35 million for supporting the adult-use cannabis program, according to the outlet.
Montana’s cannabis industry explained that the demanded money is necessary for compensating a department of 20 full-time workers, managing licensing and everything else related to the freshly legalized industry.
Rep. Bill Mercer, a Republican and the former attorney has seen the request as inappropriate, declined it citing a “huge tranche of money."
Nevertheless, the request obtained support from Kurt Alme, a budget director for Governor Greg Gianforte, who said the requested sum is reasonable if the state plans to meet the set deadline.
What’s more, many argue that the amount asked for is nothing compared to the tax revenue the newly legal industry could generate.
A study conducted by New Approach Montana, the advocacy group that supported cannabis legalization, in collaboration with the University of Montana, projects that by 2026 cannabis industry could yield $236 million in tax revenue, reports the outlet.
New Jersey Legalization Bill In Question
During the November election, New Jersey was another state to embrace legalization of recreational cannabis use, with more than 67% of votes in favor.
The ballot measure left the details of cannabis legalization up to the state legislature, which seems to have caused difficulties.
With Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s demand to impose harsh civil penalties for underage people with cannabis possession, implementation of a ballot measure is being stalled, reports High Times.
Murphy’s office recommended a “cleanup bill” which proposes for people under the age of 21 who are caught with up to one ounce of cannabis to pay a $250 fine. Those with one to six ounces would have to pay double the amount, according to the outlet.
An Assembly was supposed to vote on the cleanup bill on Monday, but the voting on it was removed from the schedule.
“In the 11th hour, the governor has proposed legislation that will disproportionately and unfairly hurt communities of color,” Democratic state Assemblyman Jamel Holley, who sponsored the legalization bill, said in a statement. “The governor can’t hold legislation hostage in an effort to further target over-policed communities and place a de facto tax on poor people whose children may suffer from drug abuse and addiction. This proposal is regressive, draconian, and ethically perverse.”
Murphy seems to be enthusiastic about finding a compromise, but emphasized that he doesn’t want “more kids getting tangled up in the criminal justice system. None of us want that. Period.”
“This was never about legalizing marijuana for our kids,” Murphy said.
What’s more, the New Jersey Senate also refused to vote on the cleanup bill, making Murphy in this manner to choose between vetoing the bill or signing it into law as it is, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Nicholas Scutari, as reported by the outlet.
“We’re satisfied with the bill that we gave them, and we want them to take action on that bill,” Scutari said.
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