These States Are Voting on Cannabis Legalization This November

These States Are Voting on Cannabis Legalization This November

In 2016, the US election resulted in a green wave as cannabis legalization measures passed in eight out of nine states.Now, the industry and its supporters are hoping for another big win in November.

This year, voters in five states will decide whether to adopt either new medical or recreational cannabis laws — or, perhaps, both in the case of one state. As it stands now, 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, and of those, 11 states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

If more states join that list, it could serve as a huge opportunity for industry growth as legalization supporters believe successful ballot initiatives could have a domino effect on other states — especially those looking to address budgetary and social justice issues. “We’ve seen public support continue to grow every year,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, the legalization advocacy group backing several of the measures.

Cannabis sales in states that have legalized the plant for medical and recreational purposes totaled about $15 billion in 2019, and are expected to top $30 billion by 2024, according to data from BDS Analytics, which tracks dispensary sales. Below is a look at the five states voting on legal cannabis this November.

Arizona

Four years ago, residents in the Grand Canyon State narrowly defeated an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis. It failed by fewer than 67,100 votes, with 51.3% of voters saying no.The 2016 measure was hotly contested, attracting a combined $13 million from high-profile donors such as soap company Dr. Bronner’s, which was in favor of the measure, and opponents such as billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, tire retailer Discount Tire, and pharmaceutical company Insys. This time around, the backers of the recreational cannabis initiative include some of the biggest names in the US cannabis business — an industry that has matured significantly during the past four years. State election finance records show that contributors supporting Proposition 207 include multi-state cannabis producers and retailers such as the Tempe, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF) and firms such as Curaleaf (CURLF) and Cresco Labs (CRLBF), which have cultivation and retail operations in Arizona’s medical cannabis industry.Still in staunch opposition are Governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national organization that opposes the legalization and commercialization of cannabis.

For the most part, Proposition 207 is structured similarly to 2016’s measure. It would allow adults 21 years and older to possess, consume or transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis and create a regulatory system for the products’ cultivation and sale. Some key differences with the new measure include the addition of social equity provisions and criminal justice reforms such as record expungement.According to estimates from industry publication Marijuana Business Daily, recreational sales in Arizona could total $700 million to $760 million by 2024.

New Jersey

When Governor Phil Murphy was elected in 2017, he vowed to deliver on a campaign trail promise to legalize cannabis. At the time, he told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that legalization could be a $300 million boon to state coffers but that the biggest reasons for legalization would be for social justice purposes — overhauling old drug laws that disproportionately criminalized people of color.

However, legislative efforts to legalize failed to drum up enough support. Lawmakers ultimately decided to go another route and put the measure before voters.If approved, Public Question No. 1 would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. The program will be regulated by the same commission that oversees New Jersey’s medical cannabis businesses, and the recreational cannabis products would be subject to the state sales tax (currently 6.625%).By initial estimates, New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market could be hefty. Marijuana Business Daily pegs annual sales between $850 million and $950 million by 2024 — but a successful initiative carries greater significance outside of New Jersey’s borders. The passage of recreational cannabis in New Jersey could accelerate legislative efforts in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania.

South Dakota

Usually states have legal medical cannabis programs in place before adopting recreational cannabis laws.South Dakota could enact medical and recreational programs in one fell swoop.Voters in South Dakota will decide on Measure 26, which would establish a medical cannabis program and registration system for people with qualifying conditions, as well as on Amendment A, which would legalize cannabis for all adults and require state legislators to adopt medical cannabis and hemp laws.The South Dakota Legislative Research Council projected that Amendment A could result in $29.3 million in tax revenue by the state’s 2024 fiscal year. Sales estimates were not yet available, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which is assisting with the South Dakota campaign.

Montana

Montana voters also will see two cannabis initiatives on their ballots.Ballot issue I-190 would allow adults in the state to possess, buy and use cannabis for recreational use. A separate initiative, CI-118, would establish 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume cannabis.

If passed, I-190 would establish a 20% tax on recreational cannabis, with more than half of the tax collections landing in the state general fund and the rest allocated to programs such as enforcement, substance abuse treatment and veterans’ services. The measure also would allow people serving a sentence for certain cannabis-related acts to apply for resentencing or records expungement.According to a fiscal analysis, the state expects recreational cannabis sales to total nearly $193 million in 2025, generating $38.5 million in tax revenue.

Mississippi

In Mississippi, there are two competing measures to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.Initiative 65, which resulted from a citizen petition, would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis for patients with any of 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. The constitutional amendment would establish a regulatory program for businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis and for the products to be taxed at a 7% rate.Under Mississippi law, the legislature has the option to amend or draft an alternate measure, and that’s what it did here via Initiative 65A. The competing measure requires medical products that are of pharmaceutical quality, limits the smoking of medical cannabis to people who are terminally ill, and leaves the future creation of rules and a regulatory framework up to the legislature.Officials from Marijuana Business Daily said that if Initiative 65 is passed, medical sales could total between $750 million to $800 million by 2024.

This story first appeared at CNN.


World’s. Worst. Laws.

World’s. Worst. Laws.

From: The Richard Rose Report. Copyright 2020 Richard Rose, all rights assigned under

When I first read this Richard Rose Report, I was astonished and then, I think of all the seemingly weird communications that I’ve had with HIA – and now, it all makes sense! Be sure you may be very surprised to hear this as well – If you have questions – please direct them to Richard Rose he’s been hot on this trail for a while. Here at HempingtonPost we’re about Truth above all, and the truth is below!

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is behind some of the worst hemp laws in
the country, designed to block hemp while appearing to legalize it, in California
and Hawaii::
 bans CBD and use of flowers
 allowing only seed and fiber to be grown
 mandating certified cultivars even for latitudes where none exist
 no female-only (95% of today’s hemp), must include males
 grown only as densely-planted field style outdoors
 ornamental cultivation is prohibited
 culling or pruning and tending of individual plants is prohibited, and
 nothing planted until the Feds legalize
A more-restrictive hemp bill can’t be imagined, even if turning the pen over to the
cops. Yet, that’s exactly what the HIA got passed in California (SB 566), and tried
to get passed in Hawaii. It even has their name in it.
Sponsored by an Assemblyman with zero farms in his district of San Francisco, it
was written to prevent hemp pollination of downwind medical marijuana grows.
In 2006 the Governor vetoed AB 1147 in California, but SB 566 passed in 2013, a
year after Colorado legalized hemp. Then in 2016, AUMA contained virtually the
same provisions. A Republican in Hawaii introduced the same bill there.
This legislative history of hemp in California and Hawaii is profoundly
dysfunctional, and these bills literally have HIA’s name in it four times.

HIA Insolvent?

From: The Richard Rose Report. Copyright 2020 Richard Rose, all rights assigned under

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), which I helped get on its feet in the 1990s, appears to be insolvent. Its state chapters are demanding dues owed to them, and a review of the finances. President Joy Beckerman was abruptly fired as President of HIA on March 19, and became a Director on the Board of U.S. Hemp Authority the next day. That organization has been accused of shady dealings as well.

This is just another chapter in HIA’s long history of hurting the hemp industry by mismanagement and lack of integrity, fooling courts and the public:

  • It wrote the worst hemp law ever in California, SB 566 in 2013, designed to appear to legalize while actually not, and banning CBD production
  • HIA killed off the birdseed market for hempseed in 1999
  • Then in 2001 DEA legalized 95% of the industry with no max THC but HIA sued to stop it, killing the hemp food market for years (and almost taking Canadian hemp with it)
  • In 2014 it tried to slow the expansion of CBD

Various people connected to HIA have long slandered, libeled, and defamed effective hemp pioneers and activists who don’t agree with its policies, or to help certain members. Since 2004 it appears it was protecting investments in Canadian hemp from U.S. hemp farmers, knowing that when legal Canada’s biggest customer would become its biggest competitor.

After threatening to sue HIA in August 2015, Beckerman was made its President and given its 2019 “Lifetime Achievement” award. She was quoted in Dope Magazine saying “We used to say it didn’t take any inputs, we used to shout it from the rooftops, ‘it doesn’t need this, it doesn’t need that,’ and frankly none of it was true!” Nevertheless, HIA’s latest initiative is an educational joint venture with a hemp media company.

HIA’s Hemp History Week appears largely abandoned this year, a shadow of the seed and soap promotion scheme it once was. Another HIA initiative capitalizing on today’s events is to highlight hemp companies in the 18th and 19th Centuries regarding their use of slaves, an unfortunate practice common in cotton, railroads, tobacco, and other labor-intensive endeavors.

For doing more damage to hemp than DEA could in its wildest dreams, HIA charges as much as $8,100 annually.

From: The Richard Rose Report. Copyright 2020 Richard Rose.

Coronavirus Crisis Shows Marijuana Is ‘Essential’ And Mainstream

Coronavirus Crisis Shows Marijuana Is ‘Essential’ And Mainstream

Never has it been more clear than during the current COVID-19 pandemic that marijuana has arrived at the forefront of mainstream American society.

In state after state, governors and public health officials are deeming cannabis businesses “essential” operations that can stay open amid coronavirus-related forced closures and stay-at-home mandates. People might not be able to go bowling or see a movie in theaters, but they can still stock up on marijuana.

It wasn’t long ago that anyone growing and selling marijuana faced the risk of being arrested, prosecuted and jailed. But now, in the era of expanding legalization, cannabis providers in many states are held up as vital members of the community who are providing a valuable service on par with picking up prescription drugs at a pharmacy or filling up your car at a gas station.

Advocacy groups have pushed governors and state officials to ensure that medical marijuana patients in particular can maintain access to the cannabis they need. But because many people who use marijuana for therapeutic purposes don’t necessarily jump through the hoops needed in order to become officially certified as patients, recreational businesses are also seen as crucial access points that need to stay open.

“Most of the American public and an increasing number of government leaders stopped buying into the demonization of cannabis years ago,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “Now, not only have two-thirds of states recognized that medical cannabis should be legal—with 11 legalizing adult-use—many are recognizing that safe access to cannabis is essential.”

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said it is “encouraging to see our nation’s public policy in practice is finally catching up to where the vast majority of Americans have been for years.” 

“The recognition by our government officials that cannabis is indeed not just here to stay, but an essential part of life for millions of Americans—particularly in the patient community—is a welcome move in the right direction,” he said. “It is also a move that could not have come at a better moment for those who still require access to maintain quality of life during these trying and troubled times.”

In some states, officials have enacted new temporary policies such as expanded delivery services or curbside pickup that make it easier for consumers to get their hands on marijuana while respecting social distancing measures. Others are allowing doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine instead of requiring that they conduct in-person examinations.

Here’s a look at how states that are taking steps to maintain legal marijuana access during the COVID-19 outbreak:

California

Regulators deemed cannabis retail outlets to be essentialbusinesses that can stay open amid a broader stay-at-home order. Localities, including Los Angeles County and San Francisco, have also said that certain cannabis businesses are essential providers that can continue operations.

Colorado

Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued an executive order allowing marijuana businesses to provide curbside pickup services and letting doctors issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine without in-person examinations. A subsequent order from the governor says that marijuana businesses are critical retail operations, but only for the sale of medical cannabis or curbside delivery. Regulators also issued emergency rules temporarily loosening requirements for fingerprinting of marijuana business owners, modification of premises and transfer of cannabis product samples for testing.

Connecticut

Regulators deemed medical cannabis businesses to be essential and thus exempt from a general mandate to suspend in-person operations.

Florida

The state surgeon general issued an order allowing physicians to issue medical cannabis recertifications to existing patients—but not new ones—via telemedicine.

Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) stay-at-home order declares marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities to be essential businesses that can stay open. Dispensaries are also being allowed to do curbside sales of medical cannabis—but not recreational marijuana—products.

Maryland

Medical cannabis growers, processors and dispensaries. are exempt from an order Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued to close non-essential businesses. Regulators are also allowing dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to patients in parking lots.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a stay-at-home order deeming medical cannabis businesses—but not recreational marijuana ones—to be essential and exempt from a general shutdown. Regulators also encouraged medical cannabis delivery services to promote and expand their offerings, and are allowing doctors to remotely recommend marijuana to patients through the use of telehealth waivers. 

Michigan

Marijuana businesses will be able to continue curbside sales and home deliveries but cannot perform in-person transactions in stores under a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Regulators previously sent a bulletin allowing curbside pickup and encouraging delivery services, and another bulletin extending the period of prequalification status for marijuana business license applicants that may experience building delays.

New Hampshire

Regulators are allowing medical cannabis patients to do curbside pickup at dispensaries and are letting doctors issue recommendations via telemedicine.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) exempted medical cannabis dispensaries from a stay-at-home order. Regulators moved to allow patients pick up medical marijuana at dispensaries’ curbsides and to reduce caregiver registration fees.

New Mexico

Regulators ruled that medical cannabis businesses are essential and can stay open. They also allowed curbside pickup services, extended expiring patient and caregiver cards for 90 days and suspended background checks for new industry employees.

New York

The state Department of Health deemed that medical cannabis providers are essential businesses not subject to a general closure order. Those that are authorized to carry out home delivery are temporarily allowed to expand those services without written approval.

Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) stay-at-home order exempts medical cannabis businesses from a broader business shutdown. The State Medical Board also moved to allow doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine without meeting patients in person. Additionally, regulators are letting patients phone in orders ahead of their arrival at dispensaries to reduce time spent inside.

Oregon

Regulators approved rules to allow curbside delivery of marijuana at licensed retail locations and to increase medical cannabis sales limits. They also moved to make it easier to obtain cannabis worker permits.

Pennsylvania

Regulators deemed medical cannabis providers as “life-sustaining” operations that are exempt from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) order to close businesses in general. They also took other steps, including allowing patients to have marijuana brought to their cars outside of dispensaries and letting caregivers make deliveries to an unlimited number of patients.

Washington State

Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) stay-at-home order exempts marijuana businesses as essential, allowing them to stay open. And regulators are allowing marijuana dispensaries to carry out curbside service for medical cannabis patients.

Despite the significant number of states deeming cannabis businesses to be essential and issuing rulings temporarily expanding their services, that is not the case in every legal marijuana market.

In Nevada, for example, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and regulators are mandating that all sales be done via delivery, effectively shuttering businesses that only have storefront operations.

And despite the accommodations, many regulators are also directing businesses to implement social distancing measures such as limits on the number of customers who can enter a retail operation at a given time or guidance on physical space between those who are standing in line—changes that can slow down operations and reduce revenue.

Still, many industry leaders seems to understand the public health necessity of such moves, and cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, for example, issued a set of suggested voluntary guidelinesfor marijuana businesses to consider.

For now, industry trackers have indicated that sales are strong as consumers stock up in preparation to hunker down at home for several weeks.

Nonetheless, the industry has called on Congress to give it equal access to disaster relief funds—a request necessitated by the fact that ongoing federal prohibition means that their operations are still illegal and not generally eligible for such aid.

Legalization opponents, meanwhile, are not pleased with moves by a growing number of states to keep cannabis stores in business despite the steps intended to foster social distancing at such locations.

“We have seen numerous reports of marijuana stores with long lines of people stocking up on the drug and have additionally seen states move to keep these stores open,” Kevin Sabet, president of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said. “Quite frankly, this presents a unique harm to public health and safety. Across the country, states are doing everything in their power to limit the gathering of people in one location. Long lines outside of establishments engaged in the distribution of marijuana should be a tremendous cause for concern.”

When it comes to consumers, while advocates have cautioned them to consider refraining from smoking or vaping for the time being due to the risk of agitating lungs amid the respiratory effects of the novel coronavirus, they have also pointed out that there are other ways to use cannabis, such as edibles.

For now, the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the disconnect between federal and state policies: Under one set of laws cannabis is a banned drug, and under the other it’s a medicine deemed just as essential as any other.

This story originally appeared at Forbes.

States Split on Following USDA Hemp Rules in 2020

States Split on Following USDA Hemp Rules in 2020

More states have declared that they’re going to stick with their own rules for the 2020 hemp production season, rather than follow federal guidelines on the new crop.

To date, 20 states have said they will follow the 2014 pilot rules this growing season, outnumbering the 12 that have so far received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval for their production plans under the interim final rule.

The result is that the nation will again see a patchwork of varying hemp production guidelines in 2020, despite federal efforts to streamline hemp regulations to mirror other commodity crops.

The USDA has also approved hemp production plans for 14 American Indian tribes and currently has 15 tribal plans and nine state plans under review. Five more states are working on a plan for USDA review, according to the agency.

States choosing pilot rules

Since early February, when Hemp Industry Daily reported that 14 states extended their current program rules into the 2020 production season, six more states have declared the same intent to the USDA, including Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia.

Sunny Summers, cannabis policy coordinator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), said in late February that the state had received three times the number of hemp production applications as it had at the same time last year, according to the Capital Press of Salem Oregon.

Oregon, she said, asked the USDA for more flexibility in the federal hemp rules.

Late last month, a panel of Southern state hemp production program regulators explained during the Industrial Hemp Summit in Danville, Virginia, why they extended their respective 2014 pilot rules.

A Virginia official explained that the state would stick with its own rules and advised hemp farmers to go ahead and apply for licenses – with a warning that they would be notified if the rules change under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“We are right now in a period of reviewing the comments and feedback we received from USDA and considering what amendments are necessary for our plan to move forward,” said Erin Williams of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

In neighboring North Carolina, regulators say their sizable hemp production program and current legislation underway within the state would make it hard to implement the USDA interim final rule in 2020.

“We believe that it’d be difficult at this stage in the game to try to implement the USDA rule,” said Paul Adams from the North Carolina Department of Consumer Services.

“There are some legislative holdups in our state right now. We we are working on drafting a program, but it remains to be seen whether or not we will be submitting that.”

States requesting more time for pilot

States have cited numerous reasons for extending their pilot programs for the 2020 season.

One of the top concerns is a set of THC sampling and testing protocols that states call laborious and expensive – even a risk to hemp farmers.

“There are 46 states where hemp is legal, and I’m going to say that every single state has raised concerns to us about something within the (USDA) rule,” said Aline DeLucia, director of public policy for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).

“They might be coming from different perspectives, but every state has raised concerns.”

Many states have requested that the USDA extend the pilot from its Oct. 31 expiration through Dec. 31. That would allow producers to start and end the year operating under the same rules.

NASDA members adopted a policy item calling for extending the mandatory date of Oct. 31 for states to change from 2014 pilot programs to approved USDA plans.

“With the vast majority of states needing to call on their state legislatures to be in compliance with the rule, we need more time to stand up regulations that support the growth of our hemp industry,” NASDA CEO Barb Glenn said in a statement released by the association.

“States are doing what they can with limited resources to ensure regulatory compliance,” Glenn said.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said during a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this month that he had hoped to have more states approved under the federal rules for the 2020 season but understood why they opted to continue their 2014 pilot programs.

During that hearing, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, asked Perdue to clarify whether the interim final rule was a draft plan or a final plan.

Merkley pointed out that the distinction matters because states can operate under the 2014 pilot rules for only one year after the federal hemp rules are final.

Perdue said he “would functionally say it’s a draft plan, as this is a very unique crop,” and that he’ll be “as flexible as the law allows” if his agency can’t resolve state concerns about the federal rule by the 2021 growing season.

Federally approved plans march forward

Despite the continued state-by-state patchwork of rules, the USDA continues to review state and tribal plans submitted for approval for the 2020 hemp production season under the interim final rules based on the 2018 Farm Bill.

In the past month, the agency has approved plans for:

One of those states, Montana, said that despite winning USDA hemp approval, it plans to operate under the 2014 pilot program for the 2020 season.

Changes from Pennsylvania’s 2020 plan include mandatory permits for processors, fee changes and new restrictions for hemp production and processing properties.

And another recent federal entrant, Georgia, said it will start taking applications later this month despite not yet settling how it plans to pay for its hemp program.

Iowa, the latest state to receive the green light for its program, needed federal approval to move forward with hemp production because it didn’t previously operate a state pilot.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at laurad@hempindustrydaily.com. This story originally appeared at Hemp Industry Daily.

Coronavirus Crisis Shows Marijuana Is ‘Essential’ And Mainstream

Coronavirus Crisis Shows Marijuana Is ‘Essential’ And Mainstream

Never has it been more clear than during the current COVID-19 pandemic that marijuana has arrived at the forefront of mainstream American society.

In state after state, governors and public health officials are deeming cannabis businesses “essential” operations that can stay open amid coronavirus-related forced closures and stay-at-home mandates. People might not be able to go bowling or see a movie in theaters, but they can still stock up on marijuana.

It wasn’t long ago that anyone growing and selling marijuana faced the risk of being arrested, prosecuted and jailed. But now, in the era of expanding legalization, cannabis providers in many states are held up as vital members of the community who are providing a valuable service on par with picking up prescription drugs at a pharmacy or filling up your car at a gas station.

Advocacy groups have pushed governors and state officials to ensure that medical marijuana patients in particular can maintain access to the cannabis they need. But because many people who use marijuana for therapeutic purposes don’t necessarily jump through the hoops needed in order to become officially certified as patients, recreational businesses are also seen as crucial access points that need to stay open.

“Most of the American public and an increasing number of government leaders stopped buying into the demonization of cannabis years ago,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “Now, not only have two-thirds of states recognized that medical cannabis should be legal—with 11 legalizing adult-use—many are recognizing that safe access to cannabis is essential.”

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said it is “encouraging to see our nation’s public policy in practice is finally catching up to where the vast majority of Americans have been for years.”

“The recognition by our government officials that cannabis is indeed not just here to stay, but an essential part of life for millions of Americans—particularly in the patient community—is a welcome move in the right direction,” he said. “It is also a move that could not have come at a better moment for those who still require access to maintain quality of life during these trying and troubled times.”

In some states, officials have enacted new temporary policies such as expanded delivery services or curbside pickup that make it easier for consumers to get their hands on marijuana while respecting social distancing measures. Others are allowing doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine instead of requiring that they conduct in-person examinations.

Here’s a look at how states that are taking steps to maintain legal marijuana access during the COVID-19 outbreak:

California

Regulators deemed cannabis retail outlets to be essential businesses that can stay open amid a broader stay-at-home order. Localities, including Los Angeles County and San Francisco, have also said that certain cannabis businesses are essential providers that can continue operations.

Colorado

Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued an executive order allowing marijuana businesses to provide curbside pickup services and letting doctors issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine without in-person examinations. A subsequent order from the governor says that marijuana businesses are critical retail operations, but only for the sale of medical cannabis or curbside delivery. Regulators also issued emergency rules temporarily loosening requirements for fingerprinting of marijuana business owners, modification of premises and transfer of cannabis product samples for testing.

Connecticut

Regulators deemed medical cannabis businesses to be essential and thus exempt from a general mandate to suspend in-person operations.

Florida

The state surgeon general issued an order allowing physicians to issue medical cannabis recertifications to existing patients—but not new ones—via telemedicine.

Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) stay-at-home order declares marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities to be essential businesses that can stay open. Dispensaries are also being allowed to do curbside sales of medical cannabis—but not recreational marijuana—products.

Maryland

Medical cannabis growers, processors and dispensaries. are exempt from an order Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued to close non-essential businesses. Regulators are also allowing dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to patients in parking lots.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a stay-at-home order deeming medical cannabis businesses—but not recreational marijuana ones—to be essential and exempt from a general shutdown. Regulators also encouraged medical cannabis delivery services to promote and expand their offerings, and are allowing doctors to remotely recommend marijuana to patients through the use of telehealth waivers.

Michigan

Marijuana businesses will be able to continue curbside sales and home deliveries but cannot perform in-person transactions in stores under a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Regulators previously sent a bulletin allowing curbside pickup and encouraging delivery services, and another bulletin extending the period of prequalification status for marijuana business license applicants that may experience building delays.

New Hampshire

Regulators are allowing medical cannabis patients to do curbside pickup at dispensaries and are letting doctors issue recommendations via telemedicine.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) exempted medical cannabis dispensaries from a stay-at-home order. Regulators moved to allow patients pick up medical marijuana at dispensaries’ curbsides and to reduce caregiver registration fees.

New Mexico

Regulators ruled that medical cannabis businesses are essential and can stay open. They also allowed curbside pickup services, extended expiring patient and caregiver cards for 90 days and suspended background checks for new industry employees.

New York

The state Department of Health deemed that medical cannabis providers are essential businesses not subject to a general closure order. Those that are authorized to carry out home delivery are temporarily allowed to expand those services without written approval.

Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) stay-at-home order exempts medical cannabis businesses from a broader business shutdown. The State Medical Board also moved to allow doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine without meeting patients in person. Additionally, regulators are letting patients phone in orders ahead of their arrival at dispensaries to reduce time spent inside.

Oregon

Regulators approved rules to allow curbside delivery of marijuana at licensed retail locations and to increase medical cannabis sales limits. They also moved to make it easier to obtain cannabis worker permits.

Pennsylvania

Regulators deemed medical cannabis providers as “life-sustaining” operations that are exempt from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) order to close businesses in general. They also took other steps, including allowing patients to have marijuana brought to their cars outside of dispensaries and letting caregivers make deliveries to an unlimited number of patients.

Washington State

Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) stay-at-home order exempts marijuana businesses as essential, allowing them to stay open. And regulators are allowing marijuana dispensaries to carry out curbside service for medical cannabis patients.

Despite the significant number of states deeming cannabis businesses to be essential and issuing rulings temporarily expanding their services, that is not the case in every legal marijuana market.

In Nevada, for example, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and regulators are mandating that all sales be done via delivery, effectively shuttering businesses that only have storefront operations.

And despite the accommodations, many regulators are also directing businesses to implement social distancing measures such as limits on the number of customers who can enter a retail operation at a given time or guidance on physical space between those who are standing in line—changes that can slow down operations and reduce revenue.

Still, many industry leaders seems to understand the public health necessity of such moves, and cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, for example, issued a set of suggested voluntary guidelines for marijuana businesses to consider.

For now, industry trackers have indicated that sales are strong as consumers stock up in preparation to hunker down at home for several weeks.

Nonetheless, the industry has called on Congress to give it equal access to disaster relief funds—a request necessitated by the fact that ongoing federal prohibition means that their operations are still illegal and not generally eligible for such aid.

Legalization opponents, meanwhile, are not pleased with moves by a growing number of states to keep cannabis stores in business despite the steps intended to foster social distancing at such locations.

“We have seen numerous reports of marijuana stores with long lines of people stocking up on the drug and have additionally seen states move to keep these stores open,” Kevin Sabet, president of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said. “Quite frankly, this presents a unique harm to public health and safety. Across the country, states are doing everything in their power to limit the gathering of people in one location. Long lines outside of establishments engaged in the distribution of marijuana should be a tremendous cause for concern.”

When it comes to consumers, while advocates have cautioned them to consider refraining from smoking or vaping for the time being due to the risk of agitating lungs amid the respiratory effects of the novel coronavirus, they have also pointed out that there are other ways to use cannabis, such as edibles.

For now, the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the disconnect between federal and state policies: Under one set of laws cannabis is a banned drug, and under the other it’s a medicine deemed just as essential as any other.

This story first appeared at Forbes. Tom Angell is a 20-year veteran of the cannabis law reform movement, and I know where to look to spot the most interesting legalization developments. I’m the editor of the cannabis news site Marijuana Moment, and I founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority.


Cannabis is from seeds, drugs are from Big Pharma.

Cannabis is from seeds, drugs are from Big Pharma.

By characterizing THC/Cannabis as “harmful,” and maintaining control over this unique & essential natural resource, is wrong on every level. This precious resource has been manipulated by people who seek profit from the fear & pain of others.

Drugs don’t make seeds. Herbs do. Cannabis is from seeds, drugs are from Big Pharma. The drug treaties & drug laws we were all born into have always been “void for vagueness.”

It all began with maintaining the Great Lie of 1937 (that THC is “dangerous”), rather than admitting it is essential for optimum health, does several things, none of them good.

First, it attempts to justify the wrongful jurisdiction of unobjective courts, who profit from Cannabis prohibition in many ways.

Secondly, by claiming jurisdiction over an “herb bearing seed” the gods-given sanctity of Nature is subjugated by institutional disregard. Sincere respect for Natural systems & relationships, that predate mankind, are rendered legally inconsequential, to the detriment of human social evolution and global environmental integrity.

Finally, by exerting fees, taxes, financial burdens & punishments on the multi-billion dollar “marijuana” industry, institutional control of the multi-trillion dollar “industrial hemp” industry is maintained by the same people & politically powerful corporations presently vested in fossil fuels & nuclear energy.

Now that Cannabis has been revealed as essential to optimum human health, proper physical development, and sustainable existence on this planet, there is zero logic in perpetuating obsolete values imposed two generations ago, which have no bearing on today’s stark reality.

Extinction is in our proximate future unless Cannabis is recognized as mankind’s functional interface with the Natural Order. Anything less is just a tragic waste of time, for which our children will suffer the worst.