DEA Takes Steps to Approve Cannabis Cultivation Applications, States Issue New Rules for Industry Amid COVID-19 Concerns: Week in Review

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This week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its regulations to comply with the requirements of the Controlled Substances Act in an effort to approve pending cannabis cultivation applications and allow entities to move forward with cultivation for research purposes. Elsewhere, states including Pennsylvania, Nevada and Oregon issued new rules to help cannabis businesses navigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Federal: Delivery services have seen increased sales during the COVID-19 outbreak, with TILT Holdings and its fully owned subsidiary Blackbird reporting a 400% increase in delivery sales over the past week. Blackbird technology powers cannabis delivery services in California and Nevada, where the states’ governors have deemed the industry “essential” and open for business, and much of the market has quickly flipped over to delivery and pickup orders. Read more
  • The DEA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its regulations to comply with the requirements of the Controlled Substances Act in an effort to approve pending cannabis cultivation applications and allow entities to move forward with cultivation for research purposes. The notice signals that the DEA is starting a formal investigation—called a 303 investigation—to vet the 35 entities that have applied for a cultivation license to grow cannabis for research, and public comment on the proposed rules will be accepted through May 22. Read more
  • Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Department of Health has announced the suspension of certain statutory and regulatory provisions in order to implement a series of changes to allow patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program to continue receiving medication during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes will be effective as long as Pennsylvania’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency remains in effect. Read more
  • Nevada: Under an emergency declaration issued by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in the wake of the nationwide coronavirus outbreak, all medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries must close their storefronts to the public, although deliveries will still be allowed. Nevada’s cannabis cultivation facilities, production facilities, distributors and testing labs will be permitted to continue their operations, but must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Read more
  • Oregon: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has approved a temporary rule that supports social distancing to promote prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus by allowing licensed marijuana retailers to conduct limited transactions outside their licensed premises. The action will permit retail licensees to take orders and deliver product from the retail store to a person who is outside of the store and within 150 feet of the retailer’s licensed premises. Read more
  • Maine: The Office of Marijuana Policy released a memo March 24 indicating that while medical cannabis dispensaries are considered essential businesses under the state’s coronavirus policies, the launch of Maine’s adult-use cannabis market, which was slated for June, will likely be delayed due to the pandemic. The announcement is the latest in a series of delays for the adult-use market, which voters legalized in 2016. Read more
  • Kentucky: In a lawsuit over breach of contract, a Kentucky hemp farming company is arguing that its agreement with an Oregon hemp processing company should be terminated because of the novel coronavirus. Third Wave Farms, headquartered in Mount Vernon, Ky., signed a contract with Canby, Ore.-based Pure Valley Solutions in May 2019 to act as a broker for Pure Valley’s winterized CBD oil, but the contract quickly crumbled on both sides. Read more
  • Utah: Qualified patients can now access medical cannabis with recommendation letters from their medical cannabis providers after a new law took effect March 25. The change in law is part of House Bill 425, which lawmakers passed in the latest legislative session and which Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law. Read more
  • Canada: The Alberta Cannabis Council is calling on the Canadian government to provide the cannabis industry access to relief funds. The letter, signed by 74 industry members, calls for the “equal and fair access to significant supports for all cannabis companies working to keep employees employed, including access to wage subsidies as announced on March 18, 2020 by the Prime Minister and Finance Minister.” Read more
  • International: The Colombian government issued a new regulation that establishes the regulatory framework to commercialize master cannabis preparations for Colombian medicinal cannabis, a market estimated to comprise some 5 million patients. On March 2, the Ministry of Health issued Resolution 315, which not only opens up the Colombian market for medicinal cannabis but also allows the transformation of dry cannabis flower into derivative products for companies that set up industries at free trade zones. Read more
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