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Cannabis Regulatory Update: Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, And Michigan

March 5, 2021 1:16 pm
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Cannabis Regulatory Update: Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, And Michigan

Tennessee Senate Committee Votes For Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

Tennessee Senate Government Operations Committee recently approved a bill to legalize medical cannabis (h/t Marijuana Moment).

The bill, promoted by Sen. Janice Bowling, was moved further to the Judiciary Committee. It proposes enabling patients with certain conditions to own and buy cannabis from licensed dispensaries. The legislation doesn’t support cannabis vaping, smoking, or cannabis-infused edibles.

“We should not be making criminals out of people who need help with their health treatment, “ Bowling said.

The bill also recommends a 9% sales tax on cannabis products, enabling local jurisdictions to place an extra tax of up to 2.1%.

In addition, the panel voted against a separate initiative that suggested the formation of a commission, which would prepare legislation for medical marijuana legalization in case of legalization on the federal level. This legislation also moves forward to the Judiciary Committee, but with a negative recommendation.

Alabama Senate Panel Passes Bill To End Jail Time For Pot Possession

Alabama may soon eliminate jail time for those caught with cannabis (h/t High Times).

This Wednesday legislative committee in the Yellowhammer State voted for a bill that disables incarceration for cannabis possession offenses. The bill, SB149, was advanced to the full Senate for consideration.

Under the initiative, those caught owning less than two ounces of marijuana will have to pay a fine of a maximum of $250. These violations could be expunged from the offender’s record after five years, assuming no further violations or crimes in that period.

Those caught with two or more ounces of cannabis will be treated a committing a Class C misdemeanor, but would also only have to pay a fine of up to $250 on the first offense. A second offense doubles the fine, while the third and every other triples it, making it $750.

Alabama may join a slate of states with legal medical marijuana programs, seeing that in February the state’s Senate committee has already approved the medical marijuana legalization bill, moving it to the full floor for review.

Maryland Lawmakers Are Trying To Merge 2 Marijuana Bills

Maryland lawmakers are having difficulties with merging two separate cannabis-related proposals (h/t Marijuana Moment).

On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee held the first hearing on the marijuana legalization bill, SB 708, reviewing ways to combine with a different measure in the state’s House of Delegates. The proposed bill is co-sponsored by Senate President Bill Ferguson, Majority Leader Nancy King, and key committee chairs.

“I wanted to get a little feedback from the committee,” Sen. Brain Feldman, the bill’s lead sponsor said. “I didn’t have a good take of where the committee is and where the committee’s concerns are.”

Feldman added that he hopes to resolve the differences – “The differences now are actually very narrow, and I’m pretty confident we can come up with one bill.”

The two bills mostly differentiate in regards to the licensing and regulatory activities, with the House Bill being favored by social and racial equity activists.  

House bill, HB 32, proposes stronger financial support for the newly formed equity funds, and to create unlimited “micro-grow” licenses, while SB 708 suggests “a hard cap on small grows.”

HB 32 has a provision that would demand from cannabis companies to engage in some community advancing activities if they want to have more than two locations, while the Senate bill doesn’t have that provision.

Furthermore, the House bill suggests that cannabis enterprises should enter a peace agreement with a union, when having more than 10 employees.

On the other hand, both bills propose for setting up equity funds that would help with problems that came out from the war on drugs.

Michigan To Distribute $45M From Marijuana Taxes To Local Governments

Cannabis consumers in Michigan spent more than $341 million for legal marijuana products in fiscal 2020 (h/t Marijuana Moment).

Now, local governments and services are getting one part of tax revenue from those sales.

Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, the state’s Department of Treasury will grant almost $10 million to more than 100 state counties and municipalities, which count 38 cities, seven villages, 21 townships, and 38 counties.

“The revenue generated from marijuana taxes and fees is important to our local governments,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said in a statement. “In this extraordinary time, our staff is working to get those payments to impacted municipalities and counties. Every dollar helps right now.”

In fiscal 2020, the Great Lakes State generated more than $31 million from the 10% adult-use marijuana excise tax, which, when combined with fees amounts to $45.7 million ready for distribution.

While counties and municipalities will obtain almost $10 million, the School Aid Fund for K-12 education will get $11.6 million, Michigan Transportation Fund will also obtain $11.6 million, and $12.5 million will be used to cover start-up and administrative expenses.

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