Seth Goldberg

Cannabusiness: The Marijuana Industry on Sirius XM

A two-hour special program, “Cannabusiness: The Marijuana Industry,” will be broadcast on Sirius XM’s Business Radio, Channel 132. Duane Morris partner Seth Goldberg will be interviewed on the program. The program will be re-broadcast at the following times:

Tuesday, February 26 from 2 to 4 pm ET
Tuesday, February 26 from 8 to 10 pm ET
Wednesday, February 27 from 1 to 3 pm ET
Thursday, February 28 from 2 to 4 pm ET
Friday, March 1 from 5 to 7 pm ET
Saturday, March 2 at Midnight and then again from 7 to 9 pm ET
Sunday, March 3 at 8 am ET and then again from 6 to 8 pm ET

Listen to the program on the Business Radio podcast site.

New Jersey – One step closer to Adult Use, Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Earlier this week, Governor Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, reached a tentative agreement on key pieces of adult use marijuana legislation, overcoming one of the key sticking points of how to tax the product sales, reaching a collective consensus of a $42 an ounce tax.

According to a recent Monmouth University Poll, 6 in 10 New Jersey adults support legalizing recreational marijuana. The February poll interviewed 604 New Jersey adults between Feb. 8 and 10, found that 62% of respondents favored legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use, compared to 32% of adults who said no to the prospect of legal marijuana in New Jersey.

68% of respondents said it would support the state economy, while 40% of respondents who support legal cannabis said it would boost tax revenue for New Jersey.
From an age perspective, 81% of millennials (i.e., ages 18 to 34), support legalizing marijuana, compared to 74% of adults ages 35 to 54, and 67% of adults 55 and older.

One of the other bones of contention that was overcome involved who will control the oversight commission. The current agreement would create a 5-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission to oversee the state’s marijuana industry, and Governor Murphy would be able to appoint 3 of the members without requiring Senate approval.

A earlier New Jersey marijuana legalization bill that was advanced by Assembly and Senate commitees in the fall of 2018 included a 12% sales tax. Under the Monday compromise, adult use marijuana purchasers will pay the same tax rate no matter what amount they purchased – meaning, $42 for an ounce, $21 for a half-ounce, $10.50 for a quarter-ounce or $5.25 for an eighth-ounce.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee vote was 7-4 in favor, while the Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 7-3 to advance the bill. If legislation is moved, the “Marijuana Legalization Act” would allow users 21 years old and up to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

EU Parliament Vote Supports Medical Cannabis

The Parliament of the European Union is calling for a formal EU policy for the manufacture and use of medical cannabis and targeted funding for scientific research.

A number of EU states have legalised the use of certain forms of cannabis or cannabinoids for medical purposes and others are in the process of debating similar changes to their legislation.

However, the rules on which products are allowed and their permitted usage varies widely from state to state and at present no EU country authorises the smoking or home-growing of cannabis for medical purposes.  Continue reading EU Parliament Vote Supports Medical Cannabis

Harborside Positions Itself for the Future with Big Merger

Add to the list of companies making major moves in terms of expansion the legendary name of Harborside. They recently announced a reverse merger with Canadian-based Lineage Grow Company.

Harborside is not the first United States-based company to use a reverse merger to take advantage of the more advanced Canadian markets, and they won’t be the last. “US-based cannabis companies are increasingly taking advantage of the robust Canadian capital markets,” Nanette Heide, co-chair of the private equity practice at Duane Morris LLP and the attorney who represented Harborside in the deal, told The Marijuana Times. “The transactions are somewhat complex in structure, but executed well can provide ready access to capital for growth and expansion.”

To read the full text of this article, please visit the Marijuana Times website.

The 2018 Farm Bill Preserves FDA Right to Regulate Cannabis Products

Last year was a record year for cannabis. Canada passed the Cannabis Act, making adult-use cannabis legal there. The FDA approved a cannabidiol-based medicine, Epidiolex. And the President signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, aka the 2018 Farm Bill, into law on December 20, 2018.

While the 2018 Farm Bill granted the U.S. Department of Agriculture the ability to regulate hemp, it also preserved the right for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. The FDA regulates products such as human and animal drugs, biological products, cosmetics, food and animal feed, among other things. So any inclusion of cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, like CBD, in any of those types of products would be regulated by the FDA. The FDA has stated that this is true regardless of the source of the cannabis substance, be it hemp or marijuana.

Read the full Duane Morris alert.

Is New Hampshire the Next State to Legalize Cannabis?

The first public hearing on New Hampshire House Bill 481, which would legalize the adult use of cannabis in the state, is scheduled for February 5, 2019. The bill outlines how New Hampshire would regulate cannabis products, including recreational “adult use” products, the licensing and regulation of sales establishments, and the taxation scheme.

Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont all have legalized the “adult use” of cannabis, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in northern New England that has yet to do so. New Hampshire’s economy is very integrated into the New England and Metro Boston economies and serves as a valuable new market for the cannabis industry.

The February 5 public hearing will begin at 1:00 p.m. at Representatives Hall in the State House before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The committee will amend the bill the following day, vote on the bill on Thursday, February 7, and send the bill to the floor of the New Hampshire House for its consideration in February.

Although Governor Christopher T. Sununu has said he will veto the bill, the bill is receiving bipartisan support and is expected to easily pass the House and Senate in the coming weeks, setting the stage for a potential veto override. It is also anticipated that the legislative effort will take a couple of months. Duane Morris will continue to follow these developments.

Read the full Duane Morris Alert.

Who Will be the Winners and Losers When Federal Cannabis Prohibition Ends?

Most analysts are predicting no longer whether, but when, cannabis will become federally legal for adult use in the United States, as it has in Canada, Uruguay and a few other countries, with others such as Mexico expected to soon follow. It may come in the form of the government itself removing cannabis as a scheduled drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It may come in the form of the current STATES Act pending in Congress, which would remove state-legal compliance from being subject to the CSA, or through other Congressional action. It may come through court action, such as the current constitutional challenge to the CSA as it applies to cannabis, whose initial dismissal was recently argued on appeal.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner David Feldman, please visit the Green Entrepreneur website.

Bill 420 – It’s “That” Time Again!

On 1-9-19, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 420, the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.” Blumenauer, the co-sponsor of the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment, better known as the on-going appropriations provision that prohibits the Justice Department from spending federal funds to enforce federal law that is in conflict with state medical cannabis laws.

Proposed Bill 420 is a total overhaul of the federal government’s treatment of marijuana. Among other things, the bill:

1. Decriminalizes marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act;
2. Amends the Federal Alcohol Administration Act to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to issue permits to those who want to to manufacture, distribute, or sell marijuana;
3. Transfers jurisdiction from the DEA to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives;
4. Prohibits widespread advertising for marijuana; and
5. Grants to the FDA the same authority for marijuana as it has for alcohol.

Rep. Blumenauer noted: “Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support. It’s time to end this senseless prohibition.” In this vein, per a Pew Research Center study released last fall, nearly 66% of Americans support legalization at the federal level.

The new co-chairs of the 2019 bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Conference are Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

David Feldman

New York Proposes Legalizing Adult Use Cannabis

On Tuesday, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo released draft adult use cannabis legislation. Called the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, it is just a few hundred pages long. The bill would set up a new “Office of Cannabis Management” (OCM) to oversee regulation. The office would operate under the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, taking control from the Department of Health, where it currently sits for the existing NY medical cannabis program.

The OCM’s Executive Director would get to decide how many licenses for growing, processing and selling cannabis it will grant. It would also decide the “standards of cultivation and processing” of cannabis and be permitted to conduct inspections and exact civil penalties on rule breakers. In a nod to those historically disadvantaged by the war on drugs, the OCM would be authorized to offer low or zero interest loans to “qualified social equity applicants.” The OCM would also take into account whether a license applicant is minority or woman-owned or owned by a service-disabled veteran or a disadvantaged farmer, and must implement a plan to “actively promote racial, ethnic, and gender diversity when issuing licenses.” Businesses would be prohibited from taking “adverse employment action” against an employee just for conduct which the bill permits unless their job performance is impaired. Three different taxes would be imposed on cultivation and sale, including a 22% combined state and county tax on a sale from a wholesaler to a retailer. The state estimates this could yield as much as $300 million in annual tax revenues. Taxes would be used for traffic safety, small business and substance abuse services.

Medical cannabis availability would be expanded to include, among other things, autism, and the OCM can add to the list in their discretion. Hospitals would be able to dispense medical cannabis. The current “registered organization” model for medical cannabis companies would continue, with the bill requiring at least 10 such ROs (there currently are 10 licensees). Non-NY licensed medical cannabis operators could receive licenses here without going through the rigorous application process if the OCM is satisfied with the regulations in the state of the original license. In fact the proposal requires giving a preference to these companies that are licensed elsewhere. This would likely favor the larger multi-state operators. Medical patients would be permitted to grow up to four plants at home.

Current ROs would be permitted to apply for adult use licenses, and the OCM would be able to conduct an auction of those licenses among the current ROs, with money used to make those low or no interest loans. Qualifying for medical cannabis would be deemed a disability under NY law. Retail pricing of medical cannabis would be approved by the OCM. CBD growers and extractors would also be able to obtain licenses, but food from hemp and hemp that is not intended for consumption generally would be subject to normal agriculture laws. Cannabis testing labs, cannabis brokers, truckers, delivery services, CBD retailers, caterers serving cannabis and warehouses also would be licensed by the OCM.

Regarding adult use, companies would not be required to be “vertically integrated” – a business can be growing, processing, distributing, selling or transporting cannabis or operating an “on-site consumption” location, which would be permitted. Cultivators would only be permitted one license each. Processors would be able to receive up to three licenses. Growers, processors and distributors (other than existing ROs) would not be permitted to own an adult use dispensary, and no one would be allowed more than three adult use dispensaries. Public smoking and outdoor growing of cannabis would not be permitted, but growing in greenhouses would be. Adult use would be permitted for those aged 21 and older.

Municipalities where adult use dispensaries would be located would have the right to express their opinion on the matter, which the OCM can take into account. Larger counties and cities would have the right to opt out of adult use cannabis. One controversial provision requires companies with more than 25 employees to sign union agreements. Advertising would be permitted but regulated. No importing or exporting of cannabis would be permitted unless federal law changes. Licenses would not be transferable. There’s an interesting provision prohibiting state law enforcement agencies from cooperating with the Federal Government in enforcing the Controlled Substances Act against people complying with the proposed law. Licensees’ principal officers and directors do not have to be NY residents, but must be US citizens or permanent residents.

Remember this is just a proposed bill. It still has to go through the NYS legislature, though both of those houses are currently controlled by Cuomo’s Democrats. The Governor has stated he would like to pass legislation by mid-April.

 

New Cannabis Regulations Approved in California

 

On January 16, 2019 the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the final regulations that were submitted by California’s three licensing agencies, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Department of Public Health (CDPH), in December.  These new, approved regulations went into effect immediately, meaning the previous emergency regulations (under which the industry has been operating for the past year) are no longer in effect.  The regulations can be viewed here.

In a joint press release issued by the three agencies, BCC Chief Lori Ajax stated: ““These approved regulations are the culmination of more than two years of hard work by California’s cannabis licensing authorities.  Public feedback was invaluable in helping us develop clear regulations for cannabis businesses and ensuring public safety.”

Continue reading New Cannabis Regulations Approved in California