Cannabis Legislative Recap: March 14th, 2024

The first week of March brought about cannabis legislation in five states across the country. Maryland and Minnesota both sought to bring social equity to the forefront of their respective adult-use cannabis industries. Virginia legislation seeks to get those with cannabis convictions out of prison, and Hawaii moves closer to full cannabis legalization. Meanwhile, in Delaware, the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner is requesting public comment on their impending adult-use regulations for cannabis in the First State.

Read more about each of these stories below to stay up to date on cannabis news in the U.S.

Minnesota Attempts to Give Social Equity Applicants a Head Start

Minnesota legislators presented bill SF 4782 backed by the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management, that would allow social equity applicants to apply for a temporary license as soon as July 2024. Applicants awarded these licenses would not be able to cultivate, process, or dispense cannabis earlier than general applicants were set to in early 2025. Instead, these temporary license holders would be given extra time to secure funding, property, and staff and to create the necessary safety plans for the operation.

Minnesota has set early 2025 as the target deadline for general applications, with the opening of retail dispensaries ideally opening a few months later.

The Office of the Marijuana Commissioner in Delaware Asks for Public Comments

In mid-February, the Office of the Marijuana Commissioner (OCM) released draft regulations for the upcoming adult-use recreational cannabis programs. Now, the OCM is calling for input from the community through a public comment period open through March 29th.  You can read the draft regulations here and send any comments to OMC@delaware.gov for review by the Office’s various subject matter experts.

Bill to Expedite the Release of Virginia Prisoners with Cannabis Convictions

Last week, we reported on the bills headed to Virginia Governor Youngkin’s desk that would set up the regulatory framework necessary for adult-use cannabis sales to begin, three years after recreational cannabis was legalized in 2021. Included in this cannabis reform bill package is SB 696, which would create a path for current Virginia prisoners convicted of cannabis-related crimes to have their sentences changed.

NORML reported that this bill could impact the nearly 400 people currently imprisoned in Virginia solely on cannabis convictions.

Maryland Sets Date for Social Equity Lottery, Three Months Behind Schedule

Last summer, adult-use sales of cannabis started in Maryland at medical dispensaries that qualified and paid for a dual-use license. Months later, in the fall, the Maryland Cannabis Administration opened its social equity applications, which would be the first fully adult-use cannabis licenses in Maryland.

The lottery method by which the approved applicants would be selected was slated for January 1st, 2024. Yet, three months into 2024, the lottery has not happened, leaving all applicants in the dark. Last week on Friday, March 8th, the MCA finally announced that the lottery drawing will take place this week on March 14th, 2024—today! We look forward to celebrating the growth of the commercial cannabis community with these newly awarded licenses.

Cannabis Adult-Use & Decriminalization Bills Advance Through Hawaiian Senate

In our first legislative recap last month, we covered Hawaiian SB 3335, which would legalize adult-use cannabis, and set up the Hawaiian Cannabis Authority to regulate medical and adult-use cannabis in the Aloha state. That bill has made it through the Hawaiian Senate and now moves to the House for review and a vote. Along with this bill, another cannabis bill, SB 2487, has also progressed through the Senate and is on its way to the House.

This bill would change the penalties for cannabis possession. Marijuana Moment reported that anyone found with under 15 grams of cannabis would not be penalized, effectively legalizing cannabis possession for personal use. Those possessing more than 15 grams, but less than 30 grams would incur a third-degree violation, and those in possession of over 30 grams would be convicted of a second-degree violation.

Both bills face a legislative skirmish in the Hawaiian House of Representatives, where cannabis bills have stalled in the past.

The Cannabis Industry Continues to Grow

Thanks for joining us as we cover current events in the world of cannabis. As legislative sessions ramp up in the United States, we are likely to see more cannabis legislation across the country. Please leave a comment below about what is going on with cannabis news in your neighborhood!

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