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Illinois postpones awarding licenses.
Governor JB Pritzker has signed an executive order, in response to COVID-19, that “suspends the requirement” that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation award 75 conditional licenses for adult use cannabis shops by May 1.
A new deadline has not been announced.
“The Pritzker administration remains committed to creating a legal cannabis industry that reflects the diversity of Illinois residents. We recognize that countless entrepreneurs were looking forward to May 1 and the next step it represented for Illinois’ adult use cannabis industry,” Toi Hutchinson, Pritzker’s senior advisor for cannabis control, said in a statement. “However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the application review process. This executive order will help ensure that we continue to build out this industry in a deliberate and equity-centric manner.”
Context: As we’ve reported from Maine to Guam, coronavirus has led to delays when it comes to anything from legislation to program launches. And we’ve been tracking how cannabis program regulators are responding, as well, from allowing curbside pickup to closing shops.
FDA and FTC ramp up their crackdown on CBD.
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to two companies selling CBD products, one claiming their product was an opioid alternative, and the other an opioid dependence treatment.
BIOTA Biosciences LLC, based in Washington, was warned for “marketing and distributing injectable CBD products … for serious diseases and as an alternative to opioids.”
Homero Corp (doing business as Natures CBD Oil Distribution), based in New Hampshire, was warned for “marketing and distributing CBD products as a treatment to opioid addiction as well as other serious diseases.”
“The opioid crisis continues to be a serious problem in the United States, and we will continue to crack down on companies that attempt to benefit from selling products with unfounded treatment claims,” FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement, which you can read here.
“CBD has not been shown to treat opioid addiction. Opioid addiction is a real problem in our country, and those who are addicted need to seek out proper treatment from a health care provider. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, effectiveness and quality of unapproved products containing CBD, and we will continue to work to protect the health and safety of American consumers from products that are being marketed in violation of the law.”
The previous week, the FDA continued to warn companies that were hawking CBD for coronavirus. So prevalent are bad actors looking to profit off of coronavirus fears that the FDA has started keeping a specific list of warning letters it has sent out related to “fraudulent products.” (Of the 37 products on the FDA list as of today, five are CBD products. See the full list here.)
The FDA wrote: “We are actively monitoring for any firms marketing products with fraudulent COVID-19 prevention and treatment claims. The FDA is exercising its authority to protect consumers from firms selling unapproved products and making false or misleading claims, including, by pursuing warning letters, seizures, or injunctions against products and firms or individuals that violate the law.”
This week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that, in response to an FTC complaint, which you can read here, Marc Ching, doing business as Whole Leaf Organics, “agreed to a preliminary order” that bars him “from claiming that three CBD-based products he sells are effective cancer treatments.”
Ching also sold a product called Thrive that claimed to be an “anti viral wellness booster” amid COVID-19.
“There’s no proof that any product will prevent or treat COVID-19 or that any CBD product will treat cancer,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith in a statement. “Let’s be clear: companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit like this one.”
Massachusetts cannabis commissioner joins GW Pharma’s US subsidiary.
Last month, we noted in our newsletter that Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner Kay Doyle, who was appointed to the Commission in 2017, will step down on May 8. Prior to her appointment for a three-year term, Doyle served as counsel to the Department of Public Health’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program, among other state programs.
At the time, we wondered whether Doyle would join the cannabis industry, as so many regulators, lawmakers, and other officials had before her. The original announcement, which you can read in full here, only noted that she “will be returning to the private sector to work with an organization to be announced later.”
Well, now we know where Doyle is headed, thanks to CommonWealth Magazine: Greenwich Biosciences.
Greenwich Biosciences is the US subsidiary of the British GW Pharmaceuticals, maker of the first FDA-approved cannabis plant-derived drug, Epidiolex. As Cannabis Wire reported this week, Greenwich is leading the pack on US cannabis lobbying expenses in 2020. The company has spent $490,000 so far in 2020 to press lawmakers and regulators on cannabis research, the SAFE Banking Act, and “appropriations issues related to the FDA CBD products and HHS pertaining to CBD policy.”
As Cannabis Wire also reported, Greenwich Biosciences spent $1.9 million last year on federal lobbying alone, more than any other cannabis-focused entity.
The company’s significant lobbying presence also includes efforts in every single state on cannabis-related issues, as Cannabis Wire has reported.
Nevada to allow curbside pickup for cannabis shops.
On March 20, the Nevada Department of Taxation announced that medical and adult use cannabis sales would need to be delivery-only, and storefronts must close. Curbside pickup would not be allowed. As for the rest of the cannabis supply chain, “Cultivation facilities, production facilities, distributors, and independent testing facilities will be allowed to continue operations while following strict social distancing guidelines as part of the necessary cannabis supply chain operations.”
But this week, Governor Steve Sisolak issued a new directive “easing some restrictions,” which included allowing for curbside pickup for cannabis shops.
Cannabis Wire has been keeping track of regulatory responses to cannabis amid COVID-19, which you can read here.