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
The Peach State is going to be the first to allow general pharmacies to offer medical cannabis products for sale. This is a step forward for the industry in some respects, but as with every step of legalization, the new path to accessible medical cannabis is limited. Contrary to what opposers believe, cannabis products will not be incorporated into the sale of general food, beverage, or other products. Furthermore, they won’t be as potent as most cannabis products, capping the THC content at 5%. National chains won’t be carrying these products, but 400 local pharmacies are interested and have applied to sell these products. With such a huge interest to offer cannabis products, it is estimated that about 90% of Georgians will be within a 30-minute drive from a pharmacy offering medical cannabis for sale. Currently, there are two operations licensed to produce cannabis in Georgia. Botanical Sciences (one of the two licensed operations) has already secured exclusive sales in over 30% of the pharmacies that have applied for authorization to offer these types of products.
Medical patients and local pharmacists see this as a huge win. Currently, medical patients in Georgia look to other states or other (likely unlicensed) local sources to obtain their medicine. Pharmacists believe that offering cannabis at the local pharmacy is a better and safer route than the current program. A pharmacist can provide some education, resources, and even counsel patients in choosing the right product. Emerge Law Group’s Delia Rojas believes that “access is one of the largest hurdles in the regulated cannabis industry. For example, 56% of California does not allow cannabis even after close to 7 years of recreational legalization. Providing authorization to already established businesses to sell medical cannabis looks to alleviate this issue for medical patients.”
Other Noteworthy News
MARIETTA TIMES – “Ohio voters will decide in the election whether to legalize recreational marijuana for use by those 21 and older. The proposal would allow adults to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They also could grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults. ‘Ohioans have seen the success of our medical marijuana program, but they’ve also seen too many people unable to get access for conditions that don’t qualify,’ said Tom Heren, an attorney and spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is backing the issue on the Nov. 7 ballot. Medical marijuana became legal in Ohio in September 2016 and operational two years later. But there are restrictions on the medical conditions to be eligible to purchase marijuana in Ohio. The recreational marijuana proposal in Ohio is an initiated statute and not a constitutional amendment. That means if it passes, the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly could make changes to it. Asked if a repeal by the Legislature is possible if the issue passes, Heren said, ‘I’m not aware of a single legislator who says they’re going to repeal it. They say it’s the will of the people if it’s passed by Ohio voters.’…”
JD SUPRA – “A year ago today on October 6, 2022, President Joe Biden asked the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Attorney General to initiate an administrative process to review how marijuana is scheduled under the federal Controlled Substances Act, or CSA. [JDSupra] speculated at the time that if rescheduling were undertaken, it would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the CSA. [JDSupra] also observed that while many would probably applaud the president’s request, a closer look at the consequences of rescheduling suggests such action would actually undercut the progress that’s been made to legalize medical and especially adult-use cannabis cultivation, sale, purchase and use. Apparently acting on the president’s request, HHS issued a recommendation to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on August 29 that marijuana be rescheduled from Schedule I to Schedule III. The administrative machinery has now been engaged and, while it might (or might not) be a lengthy process, it is likely the rescheduling question will be answered in the coming months or years. How that answer may affect the efforts undertaken in 39 states allowing medical and adult use of marijuana remains to be seen in a variety of different ways. What is the probable timing of a rescheduling decision? It appears that the federal Administrative Procedure Act would apply to this process, including notice and comment periods, suggesting many months if not years to complete. However, some commentors have speculated, possibly as a result of political and election considerations, the DEA may issue a final rule without regard to the notice and comment period. […] It is important to remember that a Schedule III drug may only be lawfully used for medical or scientific purposes. While marijuana used for medical purposes might meet this criteria, adult-use recreational marijuana will not. All of the negative consequences of federal illegality (e.g., restricted banking and related financial services, no interstate commerce, no bankruptcy protection) will continue unabated for adult-use marijuana. Moreover, if medical marijuana is moved to CSA Schedule III, future lawful activity will be controlled and regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medical marijuana businesses that wish to benefit from federal legality will be required to comply with whatever regulatory framework the FDA creates….”
MARIJUANA MOMENT – “A new paper in the European Journal for Chemistry traces the history of cannabis through ‘thousands of years of contact with mankind,’ noting the plant’s legacy as a source of fiber, nutrition, medicine, spirituality, and pleasure. At the same time, it notes that cannabis ‘is perhaps one of the greatest controversies in contemporary humanity’ and a key driver of the modern war on drugs. The paper, ‘From ancient Asian relics to contemporaneity: A review of historical and chemical aspects of Cannabis,’ was written by Gabriel Vitor de Lima Marques and Renata Barbosa de Olivera, of the pharmacy department at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. The cannabis plant appears to have first been used for its fiber, as a material for ropes and other manufactured goods, the authors wrote. Use of hemp fiber dates back to approximately 10,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia and to roughly 6,000 and 5,000 years ago in China and Kazakhstan, respectively. Ancient peoples considered cannabis one of the five main grains, along with rice, soy, barley and millet, the paper continues. And once stalks were processed into hemp fibers, they became durable materials for ropes, sails and boat rigging, clothing, paper, animal husbandry and more. ‘Used as a stunner to facilitate the capture of fish,’ it says, ‘Cannabis is possibly the first plant to be cultivated for non-food purposes.’ Consuming cannabis for its physiological effects, meanwhile, dates back to about 3,000 years ago, the study says: ‘The first people to use Cannabis as both a therapeutic and a narcotic tool were from the Indian region, circa 1000 years BCE, mainly because of its religious connotations. The two purposes were often linked. Described in the Vedas as one of the five sacred plants, it was believed to have arisen from a drop of amrita (sacred nectar) that fell from heaven onto the earth and was able to bring joy and freedom to those who used it.’ Marijuana’s psychoactive effects were also recorded in the world’s oldest pharmacopoeia, the Pen Ts’ao Ching, the roots of which date back to 2,700 B.C.E….”
MJ BIZ DAILY – “The refreshing wave of good news from Washington DC that buoyed the U.S. marijuana industry in late summer might have peaked, with fresh hurdles emerging that could make it harder for Congress to pass cannabis banking reform. On the bright side: Multiple Capitol Hill observers told MJBizDaily the odds remain good that the U.S. Senate will pass the SAFER Banking Act, which would provide protections from federal prosecution for financial institutions offering services to state-legal marijuana businesses. The refreshing wave of good news from Washington DC that buoyed the U.S. marijuana industry in late summer might have peaked, with fresh hurdles emerging that could make it harder for Congress to pass cannabis banking reform. On the bright side: Multiple Capitol Hill observers told MJBizDaily the odds remain good that the U.S. Senate will pass the SAFER Banking Act, which would provide protections from federal prosecution for financial institutions offering services to state-legal marijuana businesses. The legislation passed a key Senate committee in late September. The expected full Senate passage would be another historic first. But now, even as some key House members signal opposition to the latest Senate version of the bill, new complications that have nothing to do with banking reform – or marijuana at all – are clouding the outlook. Nearly all business in Congress is frozen until there’s a resolution to the ongoing palace drama in the House of Representatives. As of Thursday evening, the Republicans who hold a slim majority in the chamber had yet to select a replacement for the ousted speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy. And whenever “normal” functions do resume, federal lawmakers will have a long list of must-do priorities before they can attend to a cannabis banking bill. These include passing another spending bill to dodge a government shutdown before a mid-November deadline as well as addressing the fresh and escalating war in Israel….”
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