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

Deanna Lucci

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.

The Governor specifically stated that the goal of this proposed tax cut is to promote the state’s legal market, which has struggled to compete with the illicit market and is feeling the effects of inflation and reduced demand from pandemic peaks. Despite the tax cut, a recent analysis found that removing the cultivation tax would actually increase overall tax revenue from cannabis sales by 123 percent by 2024 due to an expected increase in sales.

Nicole Elliott, Director of the California Department of Cannabis Control, wrote in an email, “Governor Newsom delivered on his commitment to help simplify the tax structure by moving forward a proposal that, if approved by the Legislature, will remove unnecessary administrative burdens and costs, temporarily reduce the tax rate to support shifting consumers to the legal market, and stabilize the cannabis market.”

Newsom also proposed the creation of a one-time “cannabis local jurisdiction retail access grant program” to support the development and implementation of local retail licensing efforts; setting Allocation 3 funding for youth education, intervention and treatment, environmental restoration, and state and local law enforcement programs at a baseline of $670 million annually for three years; and strengthening tax enforcement policies to increase tax compliance and collection and reduce unfair competition.

Newsom announced in the May Revision that $670 million of the Cannabis Tax Fund will be available for youth education, prevention, early intervention, and treatment; environmental protection; and public safety-related activities, an increase of $74.7 million from the Governor’s Budget estimate.

To go into effect, the proposal must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the state legislature by June 15, 2022.

 

Cannabis: NJ Assembly Passes Decriminalization Bills for Possession of Certain Amounts of Cannabis

The NJ Assembly passed two bills, 1897 and 4269 that would decriminalize possession of certain amounts of cannabis, while reducing penalties for what would still be deemed to be an arrestable/convictable offense.

The measures, which were introduced at the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee on Monday, passed by a 63-10 vote.

Per NJBIZ, a Senate version (Senate Bill 2535) was introduced on March 16 to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not moved since introduction.

There will still be work to do to reconcile the Assembly bills with Senate Bill 2535 which was introduced on June 4th and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee but much of the same language was used in both the Assembly and Senate versions.

One the key difference between the Senate and Assemble versions is the treatment regarding possession of up to a pound of marijuana. Yes, you read that right – a POUND.

Under the Senate bill, possession of up to a pound of cannabis will no longer be an arrestable offense, replacing it with a written warning for first offenses and a $25 civil penalty or community service for any afterward.

The Assembly bills instead call for a reduced penalty for possession of up to a pound and thereby lowers a first-time offense from 18 months to 6 months of imprisonment, and fines from $10,000 to $1,000. Any subsequent offenses would be met with the current level of punishment.

Possession of up to 2 oz. of cannabis, under current state law, has sentencing guidelines for up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000.

Under current law, possession of between 1 pound and 5 pounds is punishable with imprisonment between 3-5 years or fines up to $25,000, or both.

These bills come a few months before the upcoming 2020 presidential election, where voters will decide whether recreational marijuana should be legalized for adult-use. Currently, polling has support for legalization at 67% among NJ residents.

Duane Morris has a robust Cannabis Practice Group to assist clients in all facets of the cannabis arena including formation, licensing, fund raising, regulatory, real estate, and intellectual property. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

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 

Key Cannabis Industry Projections and Trends from the New Frontier Data’s Recently Released 2022 U.S. Cannabis Report

Key Cannabis Industry Projections and Trends from the New Frontier Data’s Recently Released 2022 U.S. Cannabis Report

    • With a combined 148 million Americans living across those 19 adult-use states, and 248 million living across the 39 medical-use states, 44% of American adults now have access to legal adult use cannabis, and nearly three-quarters (74%) of the country now have access to legal medical cannabis in some form. Conversely, 89 million Americans (26% of the U.S. population) live in states where possession and use of cannabis remain illegal.
    • The US legal marijuana industry could surpass $72 billion by 2030 (assuming that an additional 18 states will legalize adult-use marijuana or comprehensive medical marijuana programs by then (with the current legal states reaching $57 billion by 2030), up from $32 billion this year.
    • Self-reported usage rates have risen sharply since 2012, and if this is sustained, the number of U.S. consumers will grow from 47 million in 2020 to 71 million by 2030.
    • U.S. medical markets continue to expand, with the number of registered patients forecast to increase to 5.7 million in 2030 (1.6% of the adult population).
    • Assuming legalization in all 18 potential markets by 2030, 47% of total demand would be met by the legal cannabis purchases, up from 27% in 2021, indicating continued disruption of illicit markets.
    • Despite strong state-level momentum, the near-term prospects for federal reform are dim, but a limited measure, like cannabis banking reform, is possible following the 2022 mid-term elections.

New York Conditional Cultivation License – Advanced Preparation (What You Can Do Now To Be Ready)

As we noted is our blog post earlier this week, New York recently adopted legislation to allow licensed hemp farmers to grow and process cannabis for the adult use market with the aim to have product available once retail sales are permitted.

While the New York Office of Cannabis Management has yet to release the form of application (and any implementing regulations), that doesn’t mean that potential applicants should sit idly by and wait.  In reviewing the legislation, its clear that there is plenty of work that can be done now. Continue reading “New York Conditional Cultivation License – Advanced Preparation (What You Can Do Now To Be Ready)”

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”

New York State Cannabis Update

By Michael Schwamm

More than 520 cities, towns and villages (1/3 of all municipalities in New York state) have opted out of allowing cannabis retailers and consumption lounges in their municipalities as of the December 31 deadline, according to new data released by the OCM.  Of that number, 75 municipalities opted out of consumption lounges, but will still allow cannabis retailers. On the other hand, three towns are banning retailers, but will allow consumption lounges. Continue reading “New York State Cannabis Update”

Cannabis Beverages are On Fire! – Ingredients and Labeling

Here’s another installment in this blog series on Cannabis beverages, which are on fire!  As an example,  as reported in Cannabis Business Executive, just the other day, Curaleaf, a major hemp product manufacturer, announced that it signed an agreement with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits – the world’s largest distributor of beverage alcohol.  This blog entry provides a quick snapshot of cannabis beverage ingredients and labeling.

Although the most popular, THC and CBD are not the only cannabinoids the cannabis plant produces. Other cannabinoids are well-known for having potential therapeutic benefits, and cannabis consumers are also highly attuned to the different terpenes produced in cannabis that create different flavors and effects, such as bisabol, which some believe can be fruity and may provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits; linalol, which some believe can be floral and may provide sedation; and myrcene, which some believe can be fruity and may provide relaxation.  Whether and how to include different cannabinoids and terpenes in beverages is going to be important in expanding cannabis product lines.

Likewise, transparency in labeling those ingredients may be necessary to ensure consumers are enjoying cannabis beverages safely and to the greatest effect. Moreover, so that consumers can understand the experience intended with a particular beverage, “claims” about the intended effect, e.g., stimulating, euphoric, relaxing, may be necessary.

Ingredients and labeling are a hot button issue for cannabis products. Those familiar with the FDA’s discretionary enforcement of “claims” in hemp-derived CBD products know this is an area of particular interest for the FDA. State-specific regulation of ingredients in cannabis products is also getting a lot of attention right now.  For example, the Pennsylvania Office of Medical Marijuana recently instituted a state-wide “vaporization product review” purportedly to assess the safety of terpenes, like those above, in vape products.  Given that they occur naturally in cannabis, many in the industry believe terpenes should not be regulated in the same way, if at all, as other ingredients.

Lastly, on this topic, ingredients and labeling are the focal point of a growing number of products liability and consumer fraud class actions and mass actions, where plaintiffs are asserting physical or economic injuries because, they claim, ingredients did not perform as intended or were not consistent with the labeling. Cannabis beverage manufacturers, distributors and retailers need to particularly mindful of the possibility of such claims, which can deplete resources.

 

Cannabis Beverages are on Fire! — THC Limits

In the second edition, and first substantive blog, in my series on Cannabis Beverages, entitled Cannabis Beverages are on Fire!, I am writing about THC limits, which is one of the hot-button issues for cannabis beverage producers and consumers.  Given its psychoactive effect, there is no denying that the amount of THC in a beverage should be measurable and limited so that consumers can safely ingest them and obtain the experience they are seeking. This means that a serving size of a beverage might have a THC limit, and so might there be a total container limit.

Cannabis beverage manufacturers are not starting from scratch in this area, however. Popular THC serving size limits in edibles and similar products include 5mg and 10mg could likely be applied to THC beverages, resulting in a total container limit based on the container size and number of servings. The current offerings of cannabis-infused drinks vary and the markets within states offer a wide variety of different THC levels. For example, Cann, a bestselling THC drink, contains 2mg THC and 4mg CBD per 12 ounce can. Cann is available in over 200 California dispensaries. Similarly, Tomato Jane drinks have 10mg THC per 12 ounce bottle. Comparatively, Matt’s High Soda offers an infused beverage called Uncle Arnie’s Iced Tea Lemonade with 100mg of THC per bottle—although each bottle is considered to be 10 servings.  As the market for cannabis beverages develops, THC limits are certain to be an issue that gets a lot of attention.  In the next installment of this series I’ll touch on cannabis beverage ingredients and labeling.

Cannabis Beverages are on Fire!

Want to know where the cannabis industry is going? How about the beverage industry? The answer is cannabis beverages! The hottest new product segment in both markets. Don’t believe me… just run an internet search for “cannabis beverages” and you’ll see cannabis-infused beverages tied to major beverage companies like Constellation Brands, such as Canopy Growth’s Quatreu water, and Molson Coors, with its Truss brand, and dozens of  smaller cannabis beverage brands, such as Forth, Kikoko, and Recess. 

A cannabis beverage generally contains either THC derived from marijuana grown pursuant to state adult-use marijuana and/or medical marijuana laws, or containing CBD derived from marijuana or derived from hemp grown pursuant to a state’s hemp laws.  Given the federal prohibition on marijuana, the federal legality of hemp, and the FDA’s current restriction of CBD in foods and beverages, the federal and state regulatory framework for producing, distributing, and consuming cannabis beverages is complex, to say the least.  In the coming weeks I will be covering in a series of short blogs some of these issues, including product labeling, THC and CBD percentages, serving size, and social consumption.

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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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