CannaBeat is a curated biweekly selection of top news stories impacting business, research, and culture in the cannabis industry, crafted by Emerge Law Group.
Emerge’s Hot Take
A temporary injunction that has held New York CAURD retail license holders at a standstill since August may soon be lifted. The injunction was a result of a lawsuit filed by a group of disabled veterans claiming that the New York Control Board (“CCB)” and the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) overstepped their authority by giving preference to “individuals with marijuana-related offenses and their families” in the early phases of NY’s retail licensing rollout. The lawsuit additionally claimed that the policy conflicted with the state constitution, and that under New York’s cannabis law, disabled veterans may also be entitled to licensing priority as qualified social and economic applicants.
While the terms of the settlement (finalized Friday, 11/17/ 23) have not been released as of article publication, the settlement is expected to end the NY Supreme Court’s temporary injunction restraining OCM from awarding or processing further CAURD licenses and/ or giving operational approval as related to existing CAURD licenses. This is welcome news to the over 400 CAURD license holders who had not yet opened retail spaces when the injunction went into effect, as OCM approvals are a critical part of a NY dispensary owner’s journey from licensing to opening. Many new licensees suffered significant financial losses due to rent payments and other contractual obligations that they were required to meet despite not being able to open their stores.
“While there’s still much work to be done, we are certainly glad to see an end to this injunction in sight,” says Emerge Law Group clerk Leticia Maskell. “The licensees we’re talking about here, the ones who have had to put their businesses on hold the past few months, are not large-scale operations. These are individuals who are putting everything that they have into starting their dispensaries, both emotionally and financially. Pauses like this can completely drain what are already limited resources.”
Other Noteworthy News
MARIJUANA MOMENT – “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that bringing a marijuana banking bill to the floor is a matter of securing more GOP votes. In an interview with Yahoo News, Schumer said marijuana legalization is an issue whose ‘time has come,’ adding ‘the people are on our side,’ as demonstrated by the recent vote in Ohio that saw a strong majority elect to end prohibition at the ballot. But despite support for the broader reform nationally, the majority leader said modest cannabis banking legislation that cleared the Senate Banking Committee in September is still being held from the floor as senators work to assembly a firmer bipartisan coalition around the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act. Schumer said the Senate is ‘getting close’ to being able to pass the legislation, and he urged viewers to contact their representatives and urge them to support it. ‘It’s bipartisan. It has support in the House. We could make it law soon,’ he said, without giving a specific timeline for floor consideration in his chamber. Meanwhile, as lawmakers continue to push for the SAFER Banking Act, a coalition of 20 congressional Democrats is urging Treasury Department officials to update federal guidance to prevent financial institutions from discriminating against marijuana business owners over prior cannabis-related activity that’s since been made legal at the state level.”
CANNABIS BUSINESS TIMES – “Nearly two years after the death of a 27-year-old woman working in a cannabis production facility in Massachusetts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a report detailing the findings of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection. The five-page report, dated Nov. 17, examines the widely reported incident on Jan. 4, 2022—and the events leading up to an employee’s fatal asthma attack—described as the ‘first death attributed to occupational asthma in a U.S. cannabis production worker […] This case illustrates missed opportunities for prevention, including control of workplace exposures, medical surveillance, and treatment according to current asthma guidelines,’ the report, published in the CDC’s ‘Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,’ indicated. The report indicated [the employee] worked as a cycle counter for the first several months, counting packaged cannabis products throughout the facility, but moved into a flower technician role in October 2021, where her primary responsibility was grinding cannabis flower three times a day and making prerolls. ‘These activities resulted in increased dust exposure. Dust from the grinder was collected by a shop vacuum; however, the vacuum had no high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, and visible dust escaped,’ the federal report noted. The federal report’s authors determined that because the employee had not been previously diagnosed with asthma, her symptoms were consistent with occupational asthma, and that dust and microbial exposure within permissible limits could still be problematic. The state’s FACE report also listed six recommendations with suggested process changes to protect workers. [The report also] noted that public health professionals ‘would benefit from additional research into prevalence and risk factors for cannabis-related occupational allergies,’ and suggested potential steps to protect employees, including controlling and mitigating exposures, training and personal protective equipment.”
MPR NEWS – “The University of Minnesota School of Public Health launched a new Cannabis Research Center on Thursday (11/9). The center will conduct research aimed at assessing the health impacts of the state’s recent legalization of recreational cannabis for adults, and help inform future policies and practices as the new law is rolled out. When state lawmakers made Minnesota the 23rd state in the nation to legalize recreational cannabis use in May, they set aside $2.5 million in annual funding — to come from a cannabis sales tax — to fund the center, to better understand how cannabis use affects different Minnesota populations and communities. University officials said the new center will focus on work to better understand how cannabis use interacts with substances such as opioids and alcohol, as well as the health effects of cannabis on underage users. The center also plans to prioritize research on how cannabis legalization affects public safety and health equity.”
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