Adult Use Cannabis – the United States Virgin Islands passes adult use cannabis legislation!

In case you might have missed it with your year end festivities, the U.S. Virgin Islands became the latest U.S. region to legalize adult-use cannabis. Once regulations are finalized, the rules will allow residents and visitors to purchase medical and/or recreational cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. The bill was signed by Governor Bryant and is now effective.

The legislation also includes provisions proposed by Senators Sarauw and Bolques and automatically expunges cannabis possession charges in the territory.

Medical cannabis was previously approved in 2019 but the legislature continues to work on the applicable rules and regulations for the program.

It is estimated by Commissioner Richard Evangelista that it will likely be another 18-24 months before the government can finalize the applicable regulations for medical and adult use.

Sarauw said that even now, with adult-use reforms now heading to the governor’s desk, “we have done absolutely nothing to move cannabis forward.”

At the moment, current rules decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Key Take Away – the USVI has now officially approved adult use cannabis which will likely spark (sorry, could not resist) multiple businesses and business lines to look to establish operations in the Territory. Grow, manufacture, dispensing and businesses supporting these operations are sure to continue their thought processes as to how to engage and become licensed pending final rules to be issued by the Department of Licenses and Consumer Affairs.

Duane Morris has an active Cannabis Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on your cannabis and hemp initiatives. We would be happy to discuss your proposed project and how these new rules  might apply to you. For more information or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, or Tracy Gallegos, Seth Goldberg, or Paul Josephson who co-head the Cannabis Group  or the attorney in the firm with whom you in regular contact .


Is Your Business OSHA-Ready? Health and Safety Implications for Cannabis Industry Workplaces

Kathryn Brown
Kathryn Brown

If you employ workers in the cannabis industry, consider including workplace health and safety among your top priorities as you set goals for the new year.

With the rapid growth of the cannabis industry comes increased scrutiny from government regulators, including those charged with enforcing workplace health and safety laws.  For example, in December 2022, cannabis producer and retailer Trulieve announced that it reached a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) of a citation issued in June 2022 for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  The citation followed OSHA’s investigation of the death of a Trulieve production worker from asthma-related complications allegedly related to her occupational inhalation of cannabis dust.  As part of the resolution of the citation, Trulieve agreed to study the hazards of exposure to ground cannabis dust for purposes of determining whether cannabis dust should be classified as a “hazardous chemical” for OSHA purposes.  Expected to be complete in May 2023, the study is likely to have nationwide implications for employers in the cannabis industry. Continue reading “Is Your Business OSHA-Ready? Health and Safety Implications for Cannabis Industry Workplaces”

New York Expects 20 Dispensaries to Open by End of Year and Issues Guidance for the State’s First Adult-Use Retail Cannabis Dispensaries

On October 28, 2022, the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) released forward-looking guidance for those seeking to operate within the state’s recreational cannabis market.

The Background

In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul published an extensive State of the State book, laying out New York’s plan for 2022, including $200 million loan fund in support of social equity applicants within the state’s nascent marijuana market.

The state government set a goal of opening dispensaries by the end of the year that will allow New Yorkers to legally purchase cannabis. Hochul told the editorial board of Advance Media, owner of the Syracuse Post-Standard, that the state would open 20 dispensaries by the end of the year, with another 20 opening each month thereafter.

On October 17, Hochul told reporters that New York is “on track” to open some cannabis dispensaries within months.

Under Hochul’s plan, it is up to the state to select and lease locations for the dispensaries, including 70 in New York City. While the state’s OCM has not yet announced any locations for dispensaries anywhere in the state, it recently issued guidance in clear anticipation of this plan unfolding in the near future.

The Regulations

The New York OCM’s “Guidance for Adult-Use Dispensaries” is a series of prospective regulations for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees and applications and are immediately effective.

The 27-page document includes requirements and operational rules addressing everything from operations and compliance measures to marketing, sales and distribution parameters, while providing insight into the OCM’s plans for issuing licenses when the time comes. This includes topics of record-keeping requirements, required training for staffers, and inventory and tracking requirements, among others.

While these guidelines are not yet formally adopted and enacted as rules, they at least offer both CAURD licensees and regulators a “working” preview of the New York Cannabis Control Board’s (CCB) expectations for the forthcoming dispensaries.

Indeed, the document states that it “serves to provide the framework that will assist CAURD licensees plan for how to operate their dispensary before regulations are formally adopted. . . and provides clarity on what the Office’s expectations are in relation to those regulations and laws currently in place and the regulations that will be promulgated in the future.”

What Does This Mean for CAURD Licensees?

The state and regulators are gearing up for the opening and development of these dispensaries, possibly within the next few weeks, and throughout the next 15 months. CAURD licensees in New York should adhere to OCM’s newest guidance, in addition to existing Cannabis Law and Title 9 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, until a copy of the final regulations is made available on the OCM’s website.

On November 3, a Business of Cannabis: New York panel discussion ensued, where much of the conversations centered on the importance of providing equal opportunities to small business and justice-involved entrepreneurs to participate in the industry. Panel participants included Tremaine Wright, Chair of the CCB, Crystal Peoples, New York State Assembly Majority Leader, and Jeremy Berke, Reporter for Business Insider.

The same day, Wright tweeted, “[New York] is on target to open stores by the end of the year.” Axel Bernabe, Chief of Staff & Senior Policy Director for OCM, who delivered the keynote more specifically assured, “In 15 months, we’ll have a fully established supply chain built on social equity. That supply chain will form the backbone of what we’re going to build on in the future.”

Qualifying New York small business owners and entrepreneurs should keep a close pulse on this evolving regulatory landscape over the coming weeks and months to ensure they remain in legal compliance and best positioned to take full advantage of this next phase of the state’s cannabis initiative.

An Update on New York’s Conditional Adult-Use Licensing Process

New York State legalized adult-use cannabis in March 2021 through passage of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (the “Act”), and the state is currently processing its first applications for retail dispensaries. The Act established the New York Office of Cannabis Management (the “OCM”), which is responsible for promulgating regulations under the Act as well as issuing licenses to participants in both adult-use and medical cannabis markets. Through the OCM, New York began issuing licenses for cannabis cultivation in April, and for processing – converting plants grown in the state to usable products such as edibles and vape oils – in August. Approximately 240 conditional cultivation licenses have been granted, and 15 conditional processor licenses.

New York’s legalization scheme includes a focus on social equity, whereby it is currently accepting applications only for “conditional” licenses, available primarily to businesses and nonprofits owned by or serving individuals affected by marijuana convictions. The state is currently reviewing applications for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (“CAURD”) licenses – the application period was open from August 25 to September 25, and the state received approximately 900 applications, for 175 available licenses.
The state has two categories for CAURD licenses, which both have slightly different criteria. Up to 150 of these licenses will be issued to qualifying businesses, and 25 to nonprofits. To be eligible for a CAURD license, an applicant must be a business with at least 30% ownership interest held by a person who:

• First, is “justice-involved” – was either convicted of a marijuana-related offense in New York State before March 31, 2021, or who has a family member with such a conviction;
• Second, has owned at least 10% of a business which earned a net profit for at least two years; and
• Third, has a significant presence in New York – either lives in, or owns land or property in, the state.

Any type of business organization may apply for a CAURD license. Licensees may operate one retail dispensary, and are eligible to receive loans from the New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund to pay for construction, renovations, and equipment associated with the dispensary location.

The second category of CAURD licenses is available to qualifying nonprofits, which must have a history of serving or employing currently or formerly incarcerated individuals, at least one justice-involved member, officer, or advising committee member, and a history of at least two years of net profits. One key distinction between the two types of licenses is that nonprofits are not eligible for financial support from the Fund, and must provide their own retail storefront, over which the OCM has approval authority.

While the OCM is currently reviewing applications and granting conditional licenses for cultivation, processing, and retail sales, it has not yet promulgated regulations governing general adult-use licenses – available to applicants not eligible for conditional licenses – but has stated it will do so in the coming weeks and months.

New York Cannabis Control Board Approves 19 Adult Use Conditional Cultivator and 15 Adult Use Conditional Processor Licenses; Retail Dispensary License Applications Open August 25

By C. Neil Gray

On August 15, 2022, the New York Cannabis Control Board (the Board) held a public meeting via real-time stream to consider a number of agenda items.  Among the most notable of the topics taken up was the approval of conditional adult use cultivator licenses and conditional adult use processor licenses.

Chair Tremaine Wright opened the meeting by providing an update on the Seeding Opportunity Initiative (SOI) that was launched in Spring 2022.  Through the SOI, the Board has granted 223 adult use conditional cultivator licenses, resulting in the first farms cultivating regulated adult use cannabis in New York State.  Chair Wright also noted that the Board visited three of these farms in July and were encouraged by the progress and creativity demonstrated in such a short window of time.  After some additional opening remarks, the Board moved on to “further steps to advance the Seeding Opportunity Initiative” to “continue to build out New York’s Adult Use Cannabis supply chain.” Continue reading “New York Cannabis Control Board Approves 19 Adult Use Conditional Cultivator and 15 Adult Use Conditional Processor Licenses; Retail Dispensary License Applications Open August 25”

New York State Cannabis Advisory Board’s Inaugural Meeting

On June 30, 2022, the New York State Cannabis Advisory Board (the “Advisory Board”) held its inaugural meeting. Axel Bernabe, the Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Officer at the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, provided some opening remarks noting that the Advisory Board has been in the making for nearly four (4) years. The Advisory Board is comprised of twenty members from the entire State of New York. Advisory Board members were each introduced and include a wide variety of background and experience, including careers such as farmers, public servants, doctors, attorneys and community leaders.

One of the primary purposes of the Advisory Board is to oversee the disbursement of the New York State Community Grants Reinvestment Fund (“Reinvestment Fund”). The Reinvestment Fund will be comprised of thirteen (13) voting members, and also ex-officio members to represent other state agencies. All Reinvestment Fund members will serve three (3) year terms. The Reinvestment Fund is meant to stimulate and rejuvenate small businesses in communities that were negatively affected by cannabis prohibition.

The Advisory Board will also be actively involved with the Cannabis Control Board, and strives to become actively engaged with drafting regulations and advising the Cannabis Control Board’s decisions. Further, with the Advisory Board members’ wide breadth of experience and background in the cannabis industry, the Advisory Board hopes to provide a distinct opinions and insight for the regulations that the Cannabis Control Board considers.

Nearly all Advisory Board members expressed excitement about the opportunity to create an equitable and inclusive cannabis industry. Advisory Board Member, Peter Schaffer, owner at Nanticoke Gardens, expressed his excitement at bolstering New York’s cannabis industry and potential collaboration with cannabis and beverages. Further, Junella Chin, an Integrative Medical Cannabis Physician, spoke of the healing properties of cannabis and making cannabis treatment more available to patients who could benefit from such treatment. Advisory Board member, Gary Johnson is Chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People New York State Economic Development, and expressed interest in the Advisory Board’s future in imparting equity to groups that have been traditionally treated negatively by past cannabis based legislation.

California Governor Proposes a Cannabis Tax Reduction in an Effort to Shore Up the Legal Market

On Friday, May 13, California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced proposed revisions to his 2022-2023 budget proposal, which would eliminate the cannabis cultivation tax rate beginning July 1, 2022.

The 15% excise tax on cannabis sales would remain, and the collection and remittance of that tax would be limited to retail sales beginning January 1, 2023. Currently, the cultivation tax rates are $10.08 per ounce of flower, $3.00 per ounce of trim, and $1.41 per ounce of fresh cannabis plant, and these taxes are paid on all recreational and medicinal cultivation of cannabis. Continue reading “California Governor Proposes a Cannabis Tax Reduction in an Effort to Shore Up the Legal Market”

NY State Department of Taxation Creates New Webpage with Information on the Adult-use Cannabis Excise Tax.

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has created a new webpage with information on the Adult-use cannabis products excise tax.

This cannabis excise tax will apply to both:

    • Distributors of adult-use cannabis products on sales of retailers, and
    • Adult-use retailers on sales to retail customers. 

If you plan to sell adult use cannabis you must register with the Department of Taxation (which is in the process of developing an online registration process and other guidance.   More information is available on the NYS Department of Taxation website  (https://www.tax.ny.gov/bus/auc/) 







NY Adult 

NY Gov. Hochul signs conditional cannabis cultivation bill to speed-up recreational cultivation

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new legislation on Tuesday that will allow hemp farmers in the state to apply for a conditional license to grow cannabis.

With this legislation, New York is creating a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license, allowing hemp farmers to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season to “position New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building”. Conditionally licensed cannabis farmers must hit certain requirements under this law. Continue reading “NY Gov. Hochul signs conditional cannabis cultivation bill to speed-up recreational cultivation”

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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