Cannabis Legislative Recap: March 29th, 2024

Last week, the cannabis industry experienced both forward momentum as well as tighter regulations around the globe. A collection of attorney generals from various states called for refined hemp definitions in the newest iteration of the farm bill.  Maryland removed zoning restrictions that have hindered cannabis businesses in newer markets. Meanwhile, Wyoming joins a growing list of states banning delta-8-THC and other intoxicating cannabinoids. In international news, Germany jumped the last hurdle to country-wide legalization, and the African country of Eswatini aims to follow suit.

U.S. News

Let’s start this week’s recap of cannabis news with events taking place in Maryland, Hawaii, Wyoming, and nationwide.

Attorney Generals from 21 States Call for Added Hemp Definitions in the New Farm Bill

In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed the most recent iteration of the farm bill. While trying to open opportunities for hemp farmers, the bill ended up creating massive loopholes that resulted in a nationwide, unregulated, intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid market across the U.S. As a result, attorney generals from Washington, D.C., and 20 other states in the country are calling for updates to the 2024 Farm Bill to help close those loopholes. 

Their request is for the legislative body to give each state the authority to ban or regulate intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, including delta-8, as well as create strict definitions that would tightly define hemp and its derivatives.  The letter was co-led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin and supported by 17 other state attorney generals throughout the U.S.

Maryland Bill to Limit Zoning Restrictions on Cannabis Businesses

After nearly a month of review and debate in the Maryland Senate, House Bill 805 has passed. House Bill 805 removes the power of local councils to enact new and restrictive zoning requirements for cannabis businesses. This includes changing the current distance restrictions imposed on medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries.

This legislation states that county and city officials will no longer be able to “impose licensing, operating, or other fees or requirements on a cannabis licensee that are disproportionately greater or more burdensome than those imposed on other businesses with a similar impact on the area where the cannabis licensee is located.”  In both bills, “businesses with a similar impact” are outlined as alcohol retailers.  Once signed into law, the bill would take effect June 1st, 2024.

Hawaii Legislation Bill Passes Another House Committee and Clears Senate

The Consumer Protection & Commerce Committee voted 7-3 to advance Senate Bill 3335 last week.  SB3335 did not make it through the committee without changes. Before being voted on, an amendment was added to the bill. The amendment requires cannabis businesses to have labor peace agreements with bona fide labor unions to proceed.

In a previous Legislative Recap, we discussed the early progression of this cannabis legalization bill through the Hawaii legislature. The bill’s next stop is in the House Finance Committee. Fingers crossed, this legislation will make it over its next hurdle and to the finish line.

Delta-8 Ban Signed into Law in Wyoming

On Monday March 18th, 2024, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed into law a ban on delta-8 THC products. Wyoming joins a growing list of states that have banned or restricted delta-8 products in recent years. As of July 1st, 2024, “No person or licensee shall: produce, process, or sell hemp or hemp products containing more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis when using post-decarboxylation.” Additionally, Senate File 32 prohibits manufacturing processes that alter or insert synthetic substances into hemp or hemp products.

Lawmakers instituted this ban to restrict the sale of intoxicating cannabinoids, as cannabis in any form remains illegal in Wyoming. Once the law takes effect, officials will test hemp products to ensure they meet these new state guidelines.

International News

Next, let’s review industry progress made in the countries of Germany and Eswatini.

Germany Clears Final Hurdle for Cannabis Legalization

Last week, the upper house of the German Parliament, The Bundesrat, was unable to reach a majority to convene the Mediation Committee. Now, the cannabis legalization law is free to move into effect April 1st, 2024. This new law allows adults to purchase up to 25 grams of cannabis per day and up to 50 grams per month. Younger adults between the ages of 18 and 21 years of age will be able to purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis a month.

An image of the Bundestag German Parliament building. The German flag waves on a pole in front of the building.
The German Bundesrat failed to convene a Mediation Committee to address cannabis legalization. As a result, the law to allow adult-use cannabis will become law on April 1st, 2024.

The new recreational cannabis market will exist solely through cannabis clubs. Membership will be limited to one cannabis club per person. The clubs will receive funding through their membership fees. These membership fees are planned to vary per individual as related to their cannabis usage. Finally, medical cannabis will be treated as a regular prescription and no longer be classified as a narcotic in Germany, as reported by MJBizDaily.

Eswatini Looks to Legalize Medical Cannabis

The Kingdom of Eswatini, formally Swaziland, looks to join a growing list of African countries that have legalized medical cannabis. The legalization of medical cannabis in Eswatini revises the legislation that outlawed cannabis nearly a century ago. While many African countries have continued to grow and export cannabis to other countries, use of the plant for medical or recreational purposes became illegal due to the 1925 Geneva Opium Convention. To date, eight countries in Africa have granted administrative licenses for companies to cultivate cannabis for scientific and medical purposes.

Eswatini is taking a step further with the newly proposed legislation. King Mswati III and the Eswatini government have introduced legislation that would legalize the use of cannabis. The news was reported by Voice of Africa (VOA) last week. What is their hope for cannabis legalization? Simple: bring the unregulated market to an end and increase economic opportunities for legal players in their country.  To pass, the bill requires three-fourths approval in the House of Assembly and Senate to be written into law.

Spring Showers Bring Cannabis Flowers

Come back next week to review the most recent movements in cannabis legislation. As we progress further into spring, we continue to see legislative action across the country, uplifting the cannabis industry. Be sure to drop a comment below and let us know how the industry has progressed in your state or town!

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