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National News - January 2020


California Combats Black
Market with QR Codes

The Bureau of Cannabis Control in California has moved forward with technology to help combat unlicensed retail storefronts. With the use of smartphones, consumers are now able to scan QR (quick response) codes to distinguish legal and licensed retailers from those which are illegally operated. This comes the week after the City of Los Angeles served 45 search warrants within three days to those illicit businesses. The QR codes are linked to the Bureau’s Online License Search which then confirms the license status of the cannabis retailer. “We also want to provide consumers with the best information possible so they can determine which licensed California cannabis retailers carry products that are tracked, tested, and legal,” said the Bureau Chief Lori Ajax. The Bureau is urging retailers to put these QR codes in their storefront windows to help their effort in raising public awareness and fighting against unlicensed cannabis businesses in the community.

Illinois Rolls out Adult-Use
Marijuana Rules

Illinois has become the 11th state to legalize marijuana as HB 1438 was approved by both houses on May 31, 2019, and was signed into law on June 25, 2019 by Governor JB Pritzker. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will come into effect on January 1, 2020. At the start of the New Year, this new bill will allow adults 21 years and older, with or without a medical marijuana card, to possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed stores. This is limited to 30 grams of raw cannabis, no more than 500mg of THC in a cannabis-infused product or products, and 5 grams of cannabis in concentrate form. The bill also allows non-residents to purchase cannabis products from licensed stores and possess half the amount of an Illinois resident (15g cannabis, 250mg cannabis-infused product, 2.5g cannabis concentrate). Home growing of cannabis will be allowed by only medical cannabis patients, with a limit of up to five plants per household.

Wholesale cannabis products under the HB 1438 will be subject to a 7% tax when sold by Craft Grows (grows between 5,000 and 14,000 square feet of canopy space) and Cultivation Centers (grows up to 210,000 square feet of canopy space). Illinois will be taxing the retail cannabis products based on relative potency and the type of product. Cannabis flower or products with less than 35% THC are 10% sales tax, cannabis-infused products with more than 35% THC are set at 20% sales tax, and cannabis flower with 35% THC or higher will have 25% sales tax. Additional state and local sales taxes may be levied depending on municipalities, counties, or political subdivisions thereof.

The Illinois bill also includes articles related to prior marijuana convictions and a social equity program for those who have suffered because of the war on cannabis with a new grant program called the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which will address the impact of economical disinvestment, violence, and the historical overuse of the criminal justice system. After administration and expungement costs, all remaining revenue will be allocated as follows:

- 35% will be transferred to the General Revenue Fund

- 25% will be transferred to the Criminal Justice Information Projects Fund to support the R3 program (Restore, Reinvest, and Renew)

- 20% will be transferred to the Department of Human Services Community Services Fund to address substance abuse and prevention and mental health concerns

- 10% will be transferred to the Budget Stabilization Fund to pay the backlog of unpaid bills

- 8% will be transferred to the Local Government Distributive Fund to support crime prevention programs, training, and interdiction efforts, including detection, enforcement, and prevention efforts, relating to the illegal cannabis market and driving under the influence of cannabis

- 2% will be transferred to the Drug Treatment Fund to fund public education campaign and to support data collection and analysis of the public health impacts of legalizing the recreational use of cannabis.

Marijuana Rule Changes
in Major League Baseball

The Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB players union announced mid-December that they have reached an agreement and will remove marijuana from the list of banned substances. This comes as part of changes that were made to the Joint Drug Program with significant updates to the Drug of Abuse Provisions of the Program. The MLB stated in a press release that “Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides for mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids.”

The MLB has also added the following substances to the list of drugs that will be tested: synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine, and opioids including fentanyl. The changes effective beginning in 2020 Spring Training also include “Educational Programs on the dangers of opioid pain medications and practical approaches to marijuana will be mandatory for all Players and Club Personnel during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. These educational programs will focus on evidence-based and health-first approaches based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.” The changes to the drug program comes motivated after the death of 27 year old Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher,  when the autopsy released found alcohol and high levels of opioids, including fentanyl, oxycodone, and oxymorphone in his system. “It is our hope that this agreement- which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education- will protect the health and safety of our Players,” said MLB’s deputy commissioner and chief legal officer.

New Jersey to Put Cannabis
on Ballot in 2020

Lawmakers in New Jersey have made it official, marijuana legalization will be on the ballot in 2020.  If approved it will become the 12th state, along with D.C., to legalize weed for adult-use.  Also on the ballot is a bill to regulate and tax the plant, which would make New Jersey the 11th state to approve sales.

“Putting the issue to a referendum is both sensible and equitable,” explained Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin in a statement.  “While not our preferred method of legislating, public questions allow voters to affirm or deny massive shifts in public policy.”

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