Canada’s Legal Cannabis Is Almost Twice as Expensive as Black Market Weed

Canada’s Legal Cannabis Is Almost Twice as Expensive as Black Market Weed

[Canniseur: I’ve always believed it would take years of legal cannabis to move the black market into the background, but Canadian bureaucrats have their heads firmly up their terminal sphincters. If legal cannabis is more expensive than the black market, guess which one will win out? The Canadian market is upside down for price, and probably upside down for product quality, as well.]

Canadian researchers documenting the country’s transition to nationwide cannabis legalization released a new report this week comparing legal and remaining illicit marijuana markets. The report highlighted an issue that has plagued cannabusiness across emerging post-prohibition markets: price conscious customers.

According to the latest deep dive from Statistics Canada, and first reported by CBC, nearly 60% of Canadian cannabis consumers purchased weed from the black market during April, May, or June of this year. The reason for their loyalty to the illicit industry? Canada’s legal weed costs nearly twice the price of black market bud, and the disparity is still growing.

After surveying 572 Canadian cannabis users and tracking pricing data from both legal and illicit online pot sellers, Statistics Canada found that the price of a fully licensed gram averaged to about $10.65 during the second quarter of 2019. Conversely, the same quantity of black market weed costs only $5.93 on average. With a $4.72 per gram difference between licensed distributors and local street dealers, it is no surprise that Canadians are ditching the sparse selection found in dispensaries for the tried-and-true ziplock bag.

And compared to the first quarter of 2019, the price of legal weed and the gap between the two sectors of the market have only grown larger, with the first three months of the year seeing legal and illicit pot prices sit at $10.21 and $6.23 per gram, respectively.

In addition to supply shortages in the legal market, and localized barriers to access, experts also pointed to the steep costs associated with legalization as an impetus for the massive price gap. Without product testing, packaging, or taxes, black market pot can arrive at market for much cheaper than its licensed counterpart.

“There’s an excise tax built in. Then, depending on the province, there’s GST and HST on top of that,” Brad Poulos, a lecturer in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, told CBC. “There’s compliance costs that legal cannabis producers have that the illicit market doesn’t have to worry about. Add it all up and there’s quite a cost disadvantage.”

Thankfully, Canada’s initial legal cannabis supply drought is expected to shore up before the year is out, with fully stocked dispensary shelves hopefully shifting the price of licensed pot to a more reasonable average.

Canada’s Legal Cannabis Is Almost Twice as Expensive as Black Market Weed was posted on Merry Jane.

Congress Votes To Allow Home Loans For Veterans Working In Marijuana Industry

Congress Votes To Allow Home Loans For Veterans Working In Marijuana Industry

[Canniseur: This is a good thing for vets who need jobs and can get jobs in the cannabis industry. If congress (this is the House and not the Senate) can approve something so easily, why can’t we either remove cannabis from Schedule 1, or simply legalize cannabis? With this votes as an indicator, legalization has got to be coming soon.]

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved an amendment aimed at ending a current Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy that denies home loan applications to military veterans because they work in the marijuana industry.

The measure, authored by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), was approved in a voice vote as part of a bloc including 33 other amendments.

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

The post Congress Votes To Allow Home Loans For Veterans Working In Marijuana Industry appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Congress Votes To Allow Home Loans For Veterans Working In Marijuana Industry was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Taxing Based on THC: What It Means for Concentrates

Taxing Based on THC: What It Means for Concentrates

[Canniseur: The proposed tiered tax seems fair enough. Especially since Illinois has left medical cannabis tax at 2%, the same as pharmaceuticals. Let’s see if other states follow their lead.]

Most states tax cannabis products based on weight, but one state has recently decided to tax cannabis products based on how much THC they contain. This will have big ramifications for potent concentrates — and other states might follow along.

Stick around the cannabis industry long enough and you’ll hear someone say “states are the laboratories of democracy.” It’s an idea that was first published by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1932, when Brandeis wrote that states have the ability to “try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country,” and it’s a political idea that the cannabis industry has certainly embodied.

Since California broke with the federal government in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana, every state in the union except Idaho has experimented with a different way to regulate cannabis, with varying levels of success. But today, one particularly interesting economic experiment is playing out in Illinois. The state is going to tax cannabis products based upon their THC percentage, not upon their weight, as most states with adult-use cannabis do today.  

On June 25, Illinois became the first state to legalize an adult-use cannabis market through the legislature. The law that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, puts forth a baseline tax structure for recreational cannabis in the state with three tiers.

Cannabis products with less than 35% THC will face a 10% excise tax. Cannabis products with more than 35% THC will face a 25% excise tax. Meanwhile, cannabis-infused products, such as edibles, will be taxed at 20%, regardless of their THC percentage. The vast majority of cannabis flower on the market today falls below that 35% THC line, while cannabis concentrates usually test at above 50% THC.

This means that a cannabis consumer in Illinois looking to purchase some artisan ice-water hash, a delicious terp sauce or a vape cartridge will pay 15% more in excise tax (not including any state or city sales taxes) than someone purchasing flower.

“We don’t have any examples of other places that have tried this, but it’s certainly not an unusual idea — you pay more for top shelf,” says Chris Lindsey, the senior legislative council for the Marijuana Policy Project. Lindsey worked on drafting the adult-use cannabis legislation that passed in Illinois, in collaboration with lawmakers and special interest groups.

Lindsey told Cannabis Now that the THC tax structure was proposed by one of the groups that “wasn’t explicitly opposed to legalization, but wanted to make sure that they were near the heart of the conversation, especially about issues of public health.”

“They came in to the discussion with an idea that the state should cap the amount of THC in raw cannabis, and of course, that wasn’t workable. We want to displace the underground market, and that’s setting yourself up for failure,” Lindsey says. “But then — and I don’t remember exactly who had the specific idea — the idea was just sort of floated the idea that we could do something similar to alcohol and tax it at higher rates for those who want to
purchase higher amounts.”

Should Cannabis Be Regulated Like Alcohol?

Today, Illinois levies an excise tax of 23 cents per gallon on beer (or any alcohol between 0.5 and 7% alcohol), $1.39 per gallon on wine (or any alcohol between 7 and 20% alcohol), and $8.55 per gallon on liquor (or anything with more than 20% alcohol).

That means that a similar tier system for cannabis based on THC percentages should be nothing new to consumers.

But while Oklahoma-based cannabis attorney Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish says that she does think cannabis should be taxed similarly to alcohol, she cautioned that it might place too much of a burden on a state’s testing technology.

“Looking at the federal cannabis legalization legislation S. 420 that’s pending, it would treat cannabis like alcohol, which I think is a good plan as far as having a structure to regulate and tax it,” Parrish says. “Unfortunately, our testing technology isn’t quite specific enough right now to be basing a law off of the results.”

Labs in states such as Oregon and Washington have been plagued with problems in their lab testing industries, though it does appear that determining the 35% THC barrier will be a less intensive testing requirement than the full pesticide and heavy metal contaminants tests that states are struggling with today.

Another key detail that separates cannabis from alcohol is the complexity of the plant’s cannabinoids and the way they interact with the human body. By focusing only on the THC percentage (like the ethanol percentage in alcohol) in creating the tax, Illinois regulators could be creating a loophole for concentrate consumers to start purchasing products to get high that aren’t THC, like delta-8 extracts.

But Lindsey says the Illinois tax structure is written to be flexible, and the state is planning and prepared to alter as the industry matures.

“Right now, no one’s talking about other cannabinoids, except CBD,” Lindsey says. “The way it would happen is there’s another popular cannabinoid that comes along, and we hear about it constantly, or we hear about another cannabinoid that causes intoxication, and that’s where we’d see a quick response. They’d fill that gap. Right now, there’s no conversation around delta-8 in Illinois.”

What Does the THC Tax Mean for Medical Marijuana Patients?

While Parrish expressed concern that taxing cannabis based upon THC percentages could put an undue burden on medical marijuana patients who turn to high-potency products for things like relief from
chemotherapy-induced nausea, Lindsey says that Illinois’s THC tax applied only to the recreational cannabis market.

“Patients are not going to pay any additional tax,” Lindsey says. “Medical marijuana products fall into the same bucket as pharmaceuticals, which is taxed at 2%, so that won’t change. This [THC tax] is only for the adult non-medical market — though, of course, some of those people are using the adult-use cannabis market for medical reasons.”

Lindsey says that if the THC tax model takes off, the Marijuana Policy Project would lobby other states to make sure they weren’t using it as an excuse to price gouge patients.

Will the THC Tax Catch On Elsewhere?

Since Illinois passed its adult-use cannabis law, there’s been very little focus on this new tax structure. Most of the attention has been on the promise of the state’s equity program and the hundreds of thousands of people who stand to have their cannabis possession records expunged.

“I thought this new tax structure was going to make a big splash, but that was before everyone got excited about expungement and we did the math about how many people’s records would be impacted,” says Lindsey. “At the time, I predicted this was something we’d see in other places. But now, it’s too early to know if that’s really going to happen.”

For now, the only other jurisdiction with a similar tax structure is Canada. In Canada, edibles, extracts and topicals face an excise tax at a rate of one cent per milligram of THC.

Lindsey says that it’s too early to tell if other jurisdictions will think that the THC tax structure for Illinois is a good idea and follow along, but that he thinks it’s important to note the program was built with so much flexibility because the lawmakers were not beholden to a voter initiative that legalized cannabis, like every other state has been while setting up a legal cannabis market (except Vermont, which has yet to do so).

“The way the Illinois bill was structured was to set a baseline for regulations, but there’s tons of running room beyond that, so that the legislators can get the program up and running without public comment and deliberation,” says Lindsey. “At the end of every section of the law, it ends by saying ‘and you can change the rules.’ Talk about the laboratory of democracy!”

Taxing Based on THC: What It Means for Concentrates was posted on Cannabis Now.

South Dakota Tribe Sues USDA Over Right to Grow Hemp

South Dakota Tribe Sues USDA Over Right to Grow Hemp

[Canniseur: USDA is foot-dragging! It sure seems like all Federal departments are in chaos, which is a logical outcome from having a president that thrives on chaos and lies. Get it together, it’s hemp!]

One Native American tribe heads to court to demand the right to cultivate low-THC cannabis and to force the USDA to live up to its regulatory responsibilities under the 2018 Farm Bill.

The federal bureaucracy hasn’t yet caught up with the law where hemp cultivation and commerce are concerned — leaving a lot of would-be entrepreneurs and enterprises in the lurch.

Legislation is now pending on Capitol Hill that calls upon the Food & Drug Administration to finally regulate CBD products, addressing a dilemma that has been outstanding since hemp-derived CBD was legalized under last year’s Farm Bill. The failure of the FDA to create regulations for CBD as a food additive or drug means many such products actually remain illegal — despite the clear will of Congress.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also failed to bring its regulations into conformity with the Farm Bill. The USDA in late May issued a memo establishing protocols for interstate commerce in hemp. But it has still failed to provide any legal clarity on the question of hemp cultivation, including on Native American tribal lands. 

Given the unique jurisdictional status of such lands, it is the USDA that has the authority to permit and oversee such cultivation. Its failure to issue regulations on the matter is another legal hindrance to Native American cannabis cultivation.

Now the USDA is under pressure from litigation. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has launched suit in a South Dakota federal district court, seeking to force the USDA to approve its plan to regulate hemp production on tribal lands — or get out of the way. 

Bureaucracy Bottlenecks Tribal Sovereignty 

Under provisions of the Farm Bill, states must submit their plans for hemp cultivation to the USDA for approval before planting can begin. For South Dakota, this doesn’t really matter anyway, as Gov. Kristi Noem in March vetoed a bill that would have allowed hemp cultivation in the state. The good news is that since Indian reservations are considered sovereign entities under federal law (just like states), they may apply separately to cultivate even if the state they are situated in doesn’t allow it.

The bad news is that the USDA hasn’t issued its own regulations for approval of such plans, meaning everything is at a standstill.

According to the Farm Bill, both state and tribal hemp plans must be approved by USDA within 60 days of being submitted. The USDA received the Santee Sioux plan back on March 8, and the tribe made clear that it had already invested money in anticipation of planting a hemp crop in 2019. The tribe says the USDA’s inaction on the plan places it at jeopardy of losing a revenue source it counted on.

“A delay in approval of the tribal plan and unlawfully withholding tribal authority curtails receipt of the tribal revenue from hemp production at grave cost to tribal members, putting tribal members’ health, safety, and welfare at risk,” the lawsuit states, according to the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls. 

Instead of approval, the tribe received a letter dated April 24 from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, saying that no plans would be approved until the USDA established regulations to oversee hemp cultivation and that these regs are not expected to be completed until this fall.

On June 6, the case was dealt a setback when Judge Karen Schreier in Sioux Falls denied the tribe’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed cultivation to commence. The Santee Sioux must now wait until the case is resolved or until the USDA approves the tribe’s production plan, Sioux Falls’ KSFY reported. 

The court concluded that the Farm Bill “provides exclusive authority to the Secretary to issue rules and regulations” relating to hemp. The court continued: “A harmonious reading of the statute lends to the likelihood that the 60-day window to approve or deny a plan does not begin until regulations are promulgated by the USDA.”

The USDA on June 24 had a series of “summary descriptions” of pending regulations published in the Federal Register. Among these was “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program.” It noted: “This action is required to implement provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill).” The timetable for this regulation indicated that an “Interim Final Rule” would be ready by August — too late in the year for the Santee Sioux to plant a hemp crop. 

First Crop Was Burned — And Not the Good Way

The Flandreau Santee Sioux voted to legalize cultivation and use of cannabis on their tribal lands in June 2015. Later that year, tribal leaders announced plans for the addition of a cannabis-themed resort to the reservation’s successful casino. Marijuana grown on the rez was to be available in a new nightclub and “smoking lounge.” Plans for “social consumption” of cannabis were being pioneered by the Santee Sioux before various states and municipalities around the country started pursuing the idea. “We want it to be an adult playground,” tribal president Anthony Reider told the Associated Press at the time.

But that November, the Tribal Council voted to temporarily suspend their marijuana operation. Immediately after the vote, the tribe’s first cannabis crop was burned in the fields. 

The decision was taken after South Dakota officials, including then-Attorney General Marty Jackley, warned that legalization on the reservation would only be seen as applying to tribal members. Therefore, non-tribal members using cannabis on the reservation risked prosecution under state law. Rather than risk a confrontation with state authorities, the tribe agreed to suspend the project. 

However, the move was explicitly seen as a tactical retreat. Tribal attorney Seth C. Pearman said in a statement, published by Indian Country Today: “After government-to-government consultation with the United States, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is temporarily suspending its marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities. This suspension is pivotal to the continued success of the marijuana venture… The Tribe will continue to consult with the federal and state governments and hopes to be granted parity with states that have legalized marijuana. The Tribe intends to successfully participate in the marijuana industry, and Tribal leadership is undaunted by this brief sidestep.”

After this setback, hopes were revived for reservation hemp cultivation after the passage of the Farm Bill last December — only to be met with frustration yet again, this time by USDA foot-dragging. 

The Santee Sioux are certainly owed a little bit of long-delayed justice from Uncle Sam. Their history is the all-too-familiar one of expropriation of their traditional lands, followed by forced relocation.

The Santee Sioux briefly made news in December 2012, when tribal members made a horseback pilgrimage to Mankato, Minnesota. The cross-country ride was made to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1862 mass public hanging there of 38 Dakota Sioux men, for crimes allegedly committed in that year’s U.S.-Dakota War, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The execution order was personally signed by President Abraham Lincoln. After the war, the Dakota were pushed west from their Minnesota homeland and became known as the Santee Sioux. They settled at Flandreau, and a second Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska.

TELL US, who do you think should be in charge of regulating hemp production? 

The post South Dakota Tribe Sues USDA Over Right to Grow Hemp appeared first on Cannabis Now.

South Dakota Tribe Sues USDA Over Right to Grow Hemp was posted on Cannabis Now.

Congresswoman Calls For Nationwide Marijuana Legalization To Ensure Social Equity

Congresswoman Calls For Nationwide Marijuana Legalization To Ensure Social Equity

[Canniseur: Rep. Omar’s point of the U.S. ending the current patchwork of laws while ensuring social equity across the nation, needs to be addressed. We absolutely need to address and end the abhorrent disparities resulting from the ‘war on drugs’. ]

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that marijuana legalization must happen at the federal level so that individual states aren’t able to continue to disproportionately enforce prohibition against communities of color.

In an interview with BET, a clip of which was posted on Wednesday, the freshman congresswoman said “it’s important for us to [legalize cannabis] federally and not allow for the states to pick and choose, because what happens is you will have a state where someone is publicly and professionally able to profit, and in the next state someone could be sentenced to life for it.”

“We want to make sure that there is equality in our laws,” she said. “I don’t think it’s just for that kind of economy that exists within this policy [of conflicting state marijuana laws].”

Omar—who is a cosponsor of legislation to deschedule cannabis and penalize states that carry out prohibition in a discriminatory way as well as a separate bill that would mandate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study the therapeutic potential of cannabis for veterans—said the country is now having “the broader conversation after legalization.”

“How do you allow the people who have been the most impacted by these harmful policies to now sort of get reparations and be the ones that are set up to benefit from the system now working?” she said. “I think these are parallel conversations.”

“These are holistic conversations for us to have,” she said, citing Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) as examples of lawmakers pushing those talks forward.

Their contributions to the legalization movement “will center black and brown people in getting opportunities to start the businesses that will be generated after we legalize,” Omar said.

Legalization alone isn’t enough to ensure that there’s equity in the industry, she added, noting that disparities in the legal market are largely resource driven.

“You have to have the capital to be able to start the business, to understand where to even begin,” she said. “But also many licenses for businesses are tied to your criminal record. And so there are a lot of things we have to make sure we’re taking care of so that we are setting the black and brown community to be in equal footing when that happens.”

Such a discussion is likely to come up at a congressional hearing on ending federal marijuana prohibition that’s scheduled for Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of BET.

Congresswoman Calls For Nationwide Marijuana Legalization To Ensure Social Equity was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Michigan Issues Emergency Recreational Marijuana Rules 

[Canniseur: I’ll never understand the separation of food sales, alcohol, and weed. Next month, we’ll hear about Michigan’s social equity plan to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition.]

Recreational marijuana smoking lounges, festivals and home delivery will soon be allowed in Michigan, under a set of emergency rules state officials released Wednesday.

The rules define the launch of the recreational marijuana market in Michigan, and were signed Tuesday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. They outline how the new adult-use market will function, how the business license application process will work and how the recreational and medical marijuana industries will interact.

Despite the rules being issued this week, sales of recreational marijuana are still months away.

The release of the rules now is intended to give Michigan’s local governments time to decide whether they want to ban adult-use marijuana businesses before the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency begins accepting business license applications. The emergency rules expire in six months.

“It provides clarity on the state’s approach on establishing the regulatory program and doing so in a way that is consistent as possible with the standards in the medical market that exist now, and doing so in a way that provides adequate time for municipalities to evaluate what we put in the rules and to make a determination on how the municipality wants to approach this new market before we start taking applications,” said agency Director Andrew Brisbo in a phone call with reporters Wednesday.

About 4.7 million Michigan residents live in one of the nearly 600 communities with a ban on adult-use marijuana businesses, according to an MLive analysis.

Brisbo pledged to start taking business and event applications Nov. 1, and said some businesses could receive their licenses to operate that same month. That’s five weeks before the agency legally has to start licensing businesses under the law Michigan voters approved in November 2018 that legalized weed.

Regulations on the recreational marijuana market mostly mirror those on the medical marijuana market, except when it comes to money: officials are dropping the capitalization requirements for prospective recreational marijuana businesses. That’s a stark difference from medical marijuana businesses, who have to show they have from $200,000 to $500,000 in assets, depending on the license they seek.

The state will allow medical marijuana and recreational marijuana to be sold in the same retail store, as long as the products are physically separated.

Additionally, the rules allow for the temporary transfer of medical marijuana to the recreational market if the Marijuana Regulatory Agency determines it is necessary and possible, Brisbo said. However, officials aren’t guaranteeing that will happen.

The rule set also includes provisions for social marijuana use, including specific licenses for consumption at special events. Marijuana smoking lounges will also be allowed, including at retail stores. However, those establishments will not be allowed to serve food or alcohol, Brisbo said.

Officials have also created a new license type for marijuana growers who want to operate on a large scale in both the medical and recreational markets. The new license type allows growers to have more plants than is currently capped under state law.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency is developing a social equity plan to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition, and intends to release that later this month, Brisbo said.

Original Article: Michigan issues emergency recreational marijuana rules – mlive.com

Top Photo: Keanen Gunnells smokes marijuana at Hash Bash on the Diag at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Saturday, April 6, 2019. (Jacob Hamilton | MLive.com file photo)

Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico

Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico

[Canniseur: New Mexico is the 24th states to approve marijuana decriminalization. Governor Grisham is looking to do more and set up a working group to study how to legalize cannabis in 2020.]

New Mexico’s marijuana decriminalization went into effect on Monday, about three months after the reform legislation was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).

Possession of a half ounce or less of cannabis is no longer punishable by jail time. Instead, the offense carries a $50 fine. Penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia are also reduced.

This officially makes New Mexico the 24th states to approve marijuana decriminalization. Hawaii is expected to follow suit, with the governor confirming last week that he wouldn’t veto a decriminalization bill that reduced penalties for possessing three grams or less of cannabis.

Though advocates applauded the reform move, they’ve expressed disappointment that New Mexico wasn’t able to legalize marijuana this session—something Grisham campaigned on.

But the governor hasn’t given up on broader legalization. Last week, she announced the formation of a working group that will be tasked with studying legal cannabis programs in other states and reporting back with recommendations on how New Mexico should approach legalization in 2020.

New York has experienced a similar situation this year. After lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on a legalization bill following months of negotiations, the legislature instead passed legislation expanding the state’s decriminalization policy, making possession of two ounces or less of cannabis punishable by a $200 fine with no jail time.

Illinois, by contrast, became the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adult use last month, with the governor signing a wide-ranging bill that will also provide for mass expungements and establish programs meant to help individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition participate in the legal industry. That law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill that was approved by the Texas House of Representatives in April stalled and died in that state’s Senate.

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Maine Rolls Out Some of the Strictest Weed Regulations in the Country

Maine Rolls Out Some of the Strictest Weed Regulations in the Country

[Canniseur: This residential requirement attempts to keep cannabis business out of the hands of bigger business. While I agree with the reason behind making a 4 year Maine residency a requirement, it seems a bit harsh. ]

The state’s new weed laws contain some of the strictest residency requirements in the US. And, cities must “opt-in” to participate in the new industry.

Maine is finally ready to allow legal adult-use cannabis sales to begin next spring — nearly three and a half years after the state voted for legalization. After seemingly endless revisions, lawmakers in the Pine Tree State just barely managed to pass a bill governing the state’s adult-use market before their legislative session ended on June 20. 

Last Thursday, Gov. Janet Mills signed this long-overdue bill into law. “Over the course of the last several months, my administration has worked quickly to implement the law regarding Maine’s adult-use recreational marijuana market as Maine voters asked the state to do two-and-a-half years ago,” Mills said, according to the Portland Press-Herald. “With this law, we are one step closer to honoring the will of Maine voters.”

It has taken an exceptionally long time for the state to honor the will of its voters, who approved adult-use legalization via a ballot measure back in 2016. Former Gov. Paul LePage, a vehement opponent of legalization, vetoed lawmakers’ proposed sales regulations two years in a row, hoping to delay the onset of legal sales as long as humanly possible. Lawmakers overturned the second veto last spring, but it took them until this spring to finally pass a finalized set of regs.

Implementing these new laws doesn’t mean Maine will be dripping in legal herb, however. In fact, the state is actually imposing some of the toughest residency requirements the cannabis industry’s ever seen. Regulators will only grant licenses to applicants who have lived in Maine for at least four years. Lawmakers also tried to prevent out-of-state companies from gaining control over the market, but eventually chose to back down on this restriction. Washington State has similar residency requirements, but only requires applicants to have lived in the state for six months.

“A few other legalized states started with residency requirements, like Colorado and Oregon, but changed them or repealed them in time,” explained Andrew Freedman of Freedman and Koski, a Colorado cannabis consultancy firm that helped Maine draft its new regulations, to the Press-Herald. “It can be hard to get legitimate capital investment in the market because friends and family quickly run out [of funding], and they can’t get traditional bank loans.”

Unlike other adult-use states that allow local governments to “opt out” of allowing legal pot businesses to open in their jurisdictions, Maine requires individual municipalities to “opt in” to the legal weed market. To date, only 15 of the state’s 455 municipalities have done so, but more local governments may decide to move forward now that the regulations are finalized.

The new law will take effect within the next 90 days, but regulators estimate that the market will not be ready to launch until March 2020. The state still needs to implement its tracking and licensing systems and issue business licenses before growers can even begin planting seeds.

Once legal weed shops finally open their doors, the state expects to see $22 million in sales within the first three months. Sales are expected to grow to $84 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year and then hit $166 million in 2022-23. By 2023, the state expects to make $33.2 million in pot tax revenue, thanks to the 10 percent sales tax and the 10 percent excise tax imposed on every sale. 

Maine Rolls Out Some of the Strictest Weed Regulations in the Country was posted on Merry Jane.

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