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STATES Act is back, with tweaks.
Yesterday, Reps. Dave Joyce, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Brian Mast, Earl Blumenauer, and Troy Carter announced a modified version of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.
The bill is aimed at ensuring that states have the “right to determine for itself the best approach to cannabis within its borders. This legislation also extends these protections to Washington D.C., U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribal nations,” Joyce’s office noted in the announcement.
More specifically, the bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow for cannabis to be descheduled in states that change their cannabis laws, but would maintain federal prohibition in jurisdictions without legal cannabis. The new version would allow for interstate commerce, and an excise tax would fund the program.
If passed, cannabis products would be regulated through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The current federal approach to cannabis policy infringes on the rights of states to implement their own laws, stifling critical medical research, hurting legitimate businesses, and diverting vital law enforcement resources needed elsewhere,” Joyce, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a statement.
“The STATES Act does what every federal bill should do – help all 50 states succeed. This bill respects the will of the states that have legalized cannabis in some form and allows them to implement their own policies without fear of repercussion from the federal government.”
The STATES Act was first introduced back in 2018.
Here’s what the California Cannabis Advisory Committee recommended in 2023, and what’s next.
Yesterday, the Committee met for the final time in 2023, and adopted its annual report, which contains more than a dozen recommendations. The Department of Cannabis Control reviews the recommendations and, if it decides to move forward with any regulatory changes, it does so through rulemaking.
The recommendations were batched into topics: Cultivation, Appellations of Origin, Equity, Laboratories, and Public Health and Community Impact.
Already, SB 833, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in October, will address the two recommendations under “cultivation,” which sought, in short, to give leeway to growers who want to reduce how much they grow, generally or for a period of time.
The highest number of recommendations (5) were made regarding the appellations program, which has yet to launch. As Cannabis Wire previously reported, these recommendations include, for example, that the DCC “adopt a tamper-proof, unique in appearance (such as holographic) seal, ideally embedded with a QR code” and that the DCC “adopt regulations for labeling non-manufactured cannabis goods to require the appellation name followed by the term ‘appellation’ on the primary panel of the label.”
Four recommendations were made regarding equity, and they largely focused on the need for improved data gathering to inform policy changes, such as calling on the DCC to “assess the retail shelf space devoted to social equity brands.”
Three recommendations came in on labs, and they were largely technical. The DCC intends to consider them as it “is working on a laboratory regulatory reform package.”
Committee chair Ali Jamalian called out a couple of things that he hopes to see next year, such as the creation of a “Finance and Tax Subcommittee.”
“That is something that we take very seriously. And there’s a lot of operators on this committee that have the same interest in eliminating double and triple taxation,” he said.
He also referenced events, and “how to create a pipeline for events from 50 to 500 and 500 to 1000 people, as that’s currently not in the regulations.”
Later, vice chair Kristin Nevedal brought up the need for a “conversation around the use of light deprivation in the outdoor tier and clarity on what exactly triggers a mixed light license being required by the state” because there have “been a lot of questions that have come up recently around that.” She also suggested a conversation on “trade samples” and the “chain of custody for them within the supply chain.”
Another topic that came up as crucial for next year was enforcement, and Robin Christensen from the California Department of Public Health called for a subcommittee on enforcement. She also flagged that the CDPH’s High Potency THC Task Force, which is “tasked by the Governor with making scientifically-based policy recommendations related to THC potency levels,” will likely have updates by next June.
The committee meets again in March.
Recap: NJ regulators reduce medical cannabis fees.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission met for its final meeting of the year yesterday. Among other agenda items, regulators voted to reduce fees related to medical cannabis registration and renewal for patients and caregivers. The cost will now be $10 for two years, rather than the $50 fee in most cases.
There were some enforcement actions taken, too. TerrAscend was fined $20,000 for violating provisions of the law pertaining to serving medical cannabis patients.
Medical cannabis permit renewals also grew a bit heated when Columbia Care was singled out related to a labor peace agreement requirement as part of the Jake Honig Act. Eventually, Columbia Care was approved with conditions related to their labor practices, but not before tension was obvious.
“The workers of Columbia Care have voted to be represented by UFCW,” Commissioner Krista Nash said. But, Columbia Care has not “bargained in good faith with that union. It hasn’t even come to the table. And that is a direct violation of the Jake Honig law and its explicit labor mandates.”
“I don’t believe they’re respecting their workers or they’re choosing to ignore this specific legislation of the Jake Honig law, which protects those workers,” Nash said. “If an applicant steps on a New Jersey’s workers rights, I will always vote no. That is my vote,” Nash said, to applause.
“The law is not new,” said Dianna Houenou, chair of the Commission. “This agency needs to say what it means and mean what it says. And I intend to do the same.”
Jeff Brown, executive director of the Commission, reiterated staff’s recommendation to approve Columbia Care’s renewal with conditions, in part because of the thousands of patients that they serve.
Commissioner Sam Delgado said that there “seems to be a disconnect between the staff and the board,” asking what led Brown to the conclusion to approve.
“Explain it,” Delgado said.
Brown referred Delgado to discussion that happened behind closed doors during executive session.
“Staff’s thorough review of the entity, the documentation submitted, the compliance record,” Brown said. “We balance all those factors. We still recommend them for approval. I’m glad the board is considering approving with conditions rather than denial. I think denial could really create some extenuating circumstances for some very vulnerable individuals that are served by Columbia Care.”