Ole Miss wins federal cannabis contract, again.
When the National Institute on Drug Abuse opened up a contract opportunity for new cannabis suppliers last year, for the first time the stage was set for potential competition.
Why? The contract had for decades gone to the University of Mississippi, until recently the only place with Drug Enforcement Administration approval to grow cannabis. But, in 2021, the DEA started to issue additional licenses.
So, as Cannabis Wire reported in late 2022, seven entities met the criteria to submit proposals for the NIDA contract titled “Production of Cannabis and Related Materials for Research.”
Fast forward to today: we spotted that a $25 million contract has finally been awarded, and it’s once again going to Ole Miss.
New York cannabis regulators continue to appeal licensing block.
New York cannabis regulators have taken their fight against a licensing lawsuit to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Last month, a United States District Court for the Northern District of New York judge upheld a preliminary injunction that has prevented regulators from awarding Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses in: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and Brooklyn.
The lawsuit was brought by Variscite NY One, Inc, a company that took issue with the criteria for CAURD licenses, which are reserved for “justice-involved” individuals, saying they are in violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause.
Regulators are now asking the court to “reverse the district court’s order granting a preliminary injunction,” or at least to “narrow the preliminary injunction” to just the Finger Lakes region.
They maintain that Variscite “lacks standing to challenge New York’s license requirements, and to the extent it ever had such standing, its challenges are now moot,” that “New York’s license requirements do not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause,” and that Variscite “failed to establish that it would suffer irreparable injury absent a stay.”
The owner of Variscite is Kenneth Gay, and he also owns a company called PeridotTree. Via that company, Gay is making a similar argument against the City of Sacramento.
+ More: now, New York cannabis regulators are up against yet another lawsuit, as Cannabis Wire reported earlier this month. This one is brought forth by a handful of the state’s medical cannabis licensees who want regulators to open up adult use licensing to them now, rather than making them wait until after the head start given to CAURDs.
TOXIC Act aims to clean up harms caused by illegal grows, rife with pesticides.
On Friday, Rep. Scott Peters testified at the House Committee on Natural Resources, Federal Lands Subcommittee on the Targeting and Offsetting Existing Illegal Contaminants (TOXIC) Act, a bill he sponsors.
If passed, the bill would open up $250 million over a 10-year span so that the Forest Service can clean up some of the deep environmental harms caused by illicit cannabis cultivation on public lands. Growers for these unlicensed cannabis farms often use some of the worst pesticides and environmental practices, including razing land, diverting water, and introducing toxic chemicals.
The bill would also raise the criminal penalties for people who choose to create or maintain these kinds of grows, including up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
“These groups often use illegal pesticides, smuggled into the United States, because they are cheaper and more readily available than legal, regulated pesticides. Upon release, however, these chemicals poison the soil, the water, and the air,” Peters said at the committee hearing on Friday, adding that some species like the fisher have been particularly harmed by these types of grows.
“Frequently, offenders who are caught smuggling or releasing these chemicals on public land are sentenced to less than a year in prison along with fines that are under $10,000. Offenders’ business models are so profitable, that for large criminal syndicates, it’s simply too easy to factor in those insignificant penalties into the cost of doing business,” Peters said.
“The TOXIC Act will help us restore the long-term health of our ecosystems, restrict the cross-border flow of toxic contaminants, protect public health and consumers, and support regulated cannabis businesses that comply with the law,” Peters added.
U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Chris French testified, saying that since 2017, the Forest Service has “fully reclaimed” nearly 330 grow sites, removing hundreds of pounds of trash, and removing more than 350 miles of irrigation pipes, and thousands of containers of illegal pesticides.
“This work represents about a tenth of the total illegal grow sites that we think are out there. The support this bill gives to our remediation efforts is very appreciated,” French said.