Oklahoma Governor Signs "Unity Bill"

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law regulations governing the states rapidly growing medical cannabis industry this past Thursday.

Known as the “Unity Bill” for its support to various factions of the cannabis industry, sets up guidelines for inventory testing and tracking, advertising, packaging and labeling. It also allows employers to fire medical marijuana users who work “safety-sensitive” jobs that test positive for cannabis use.

Additional details for the bill include;

  • Products will be tested for pesticides, THC, terpenoid potency and heavy metals.

  • Producers will be prohibited from using images on packaging other than their business name logos and product images. Packaging must include a universal THC symbol, the level of THC and potency and a statement that the product was tested for contaminants.

  • The state will use a seed-to-sale tracking system that will track batch numbers, product types, sales details and other inventory information.

 As of March 11, state regulators have approved licenses for over 1000 dispensaries, close to 2000 growers and a little over 500 processors.

Efforts To Remove Marijuana From Controlled Substance List

On Thursday morning, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced what they called a “landmark” piece of legislation, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019. Only Three months in, 2019 has already been an exciting year for the marijuana industry. The number of supporters towards legalization is at record highs and there had been an increasing number of politicians advocating for drug reform as well.

In a press conference, Gabbard, said the bill would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list, thereby allowing states to set up their own laws regulating the substance. In his statement, Young focused on the fact that federal drug laws penalize those who own and operate legal marijuana businesses, who are generally barred from opening bank accounts or receiving loans.

 This has not been confirmed but would be very good news for cannabis companies.

The Marijuana Banking Bill Is Coming Back

The House Financial Services Committee released its latest draft legislation creating a “safe harbor” for banks to serve the cannabis industry, six years after it was initially introduced, on February 7th 2019. The bill will prohibit federal regulators from penalizing banks and other financial institutions that provide banking services to the cannabis industry business owners and employees.

With the rapidly expanding cannabis businesses and state legalization, the bill supporters claim that it will provide the industry legal clarity as they face serious financial and security risks.

Entitled the “Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019” (SAFE Banking Act of 2019), will push for greater protections than its previous version including:

  1. Identifies and adds protection for businesses providing products or services to cannabis-related businesses

  2. Adds protections for marijuana-related “retirement plans or exchange trade funds” along with “the sale or lease of real or any property/legal or other licensed services related to cannabis”

  3. Protection for the “distributing or deriving any proceeds, directly or indirectly, from cannabis or cannabis products”

  4. Specifies how businesses on tribal land could qualify

  5. Requires that the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council develop guidance to help financial institutions lawfully serve cannabis-related legitimate businesses

This bill is authored by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), who have indicated that they plan to re-introduce the Safe Baking Act by the end of the month.

Say Goodbye to Michigan’s State Medical Cannabis Licensing Board.

According to an article found on Ganjapreneur.com, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed an executive order eliminating the state’s medical cannabis licensing board.

The volunteer board had been tasked with considering license applications but had struggled to keep pace, causing the state medical cannabis program to fall behind projected growth rates.

The state legislature has the power to veto the governor’s order, but Whitmer said she spoke to the state Congressional leadership before issuing the order.

Licenses will now be handled by a subdepartment of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.Michigan‘s soon-to-be-defunct Marijuana Licensing Board will fully shutter on April 30.

When the state’s adult-use program comes online, it will also fall under this department. To date, the licensing shortfalls for medical cannabis have been handled by allowing unlicensed businesses to continue operating, though that leniency period ends on March 31.