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What has Biden’s HHS pick said about cannabis?
President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, Xavier Becerra, is currently California attorney general, a role previously held by VP-elect Kamala Harris.
Becerra has supported California’s decision to legalize, and, this May, called for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act in Congress.
“The continued exclusion of the licensed cannabis industry from the federal banking system is untenable – and unwise,” Becerra said. “The coronavirus crisis has only exacerbated the economic and investigatory challenges that arise from keeping a $15 billion industry in the shadows. Congress should move swiftly to pass this commonsense legislation and provide relief to the many local cannabis businesses that are playing by the rules.”
The impact of the MORE Act, in numbers.
According to a new cost estimate report from the Congressional Budget Office, if the MORE Act were to become law, we’d see the following between 2021 and 2030:
First, according to a summary of the report, “thousands of current inmates would be released earlier than under current law,” which would “reduce time served by 73,000 person-years.”
Then, the number of “federal beneficiaries” would rise, leading to an increase in “direct spending for federal benefit programs by $636 million.”
Net revenue from “business income, compliance, and occupational taxes” would be $13.7 billion.
This doesn’t include the MORE Act’s excise tax on cannabis products, which would go toward an Opportunity Trust Fund. Though, the report suggests that the Department of Justice would spend $3 billion from the Fund during that time “to provide job training and legal aid, among other services, to people harmed by the ‘war on drugs.’”
And the Small Business Administration would spend about $2.7 billion from the Fund “for state and local grants to make loans to cannabis-related small businesses that operate in the cannabis industry and help governments develop cannabis-licensing rules.”
+ More: Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the historic MORE Act vote.
Washington lab shut for “falsifying results.”
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced that it has shut down Praxis Lab after the lab “falsified their testing data on more than 1200 samples of cannabis by providing higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) potency results than tests actually found.”
Further, amid an investigation by the state regulators, “the lab owner attempted to destroy evidence of falsified data in an effort to obstruct LCB’s ability to conduct a complete investigation.”
Oregon to act on vape additives after investigation.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission said it plans to take action regarding cannabis vape additives, following an investigation that found products on the market that could have “potential for consumer harm similar to that already proven about Vitamin E Acetate,” which was the likely culprit for the mysterious vape-related lung illness that killed dozens in 2019.
The product in question is called Viscosity, produced by a company called Bulk Naturals LLC (True Terpenes). And the additives are called squalene, which is a terpene “derived from olives,” and squalane, its “hydrogenated version.”
OLCC said it “commissioned a study that determined that when exposed to heat, squalene and squalane produce harmful chemicals. It has also been documented that inhaling squalene has been associated with exogenous lipoid pneumonia.” Further, it confirmed that Viscosity contained squalane after “laboratory analysis by ChemHistory and SC Labs.”
True Terpenes has been cooperative, according to OLCC, and says it “reformulated” its product last year, though OLCC is working to locate those that are still on the market. For example, one company called Oregrown told OLCC it used Viscosity to produce its PAX Era D9 Elite vape cartridges, which were sold in 268 shops across the state, including as recently as this October.
This week, the Commission will propose at its meeting to “declare squalene and squalane adulterants,” and to move more quickly on new rules on vaping products, which have been in the works in recent months.
Denver releases plan for cannabis delivery and hospitality.
Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses and Office of Marijuana Policy has released three cannabis ordinances that it will submit to the City Council for approval. Taken together, these three bills, if approved, will bring licensed cannabis cafes and tour buses to the epicenter of the state’s cannabis industry (of course, these sorts of things have existed unlicensed for some time).
Further, regulators aim to make the industry more equitable. Licenses for delivery and hospitality will be limited to social equity applicants for three and six years, respectively. Denver is also re-opening applications for cultivation and retail, closed in 2016, which will also be limited to social equity applicants for the next six years.
If the City Council signs off, delivery and hospitality applications will be accepted starting next July. First, industry stakeholders will have two opportunities to provide feedback on the proposal, both this week.
Cannabis Wire has closely followed the road to this moment, as Denver officials hosted a series of meetings that were primarily focused on making the state’s industry more equitable.