By: Dustin Robinson

On March 31, 2021, the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (“MRTA”) was signed into law. MRTA established New York’s adult-use cannabis regulations and expanded upon the state’s medical cannabis program. The state’s Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) and Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) will oversee the state’s adult-use cannabis industry and establish rules for cannabis operations and licensing. The CCB will consist of five members appointed by the governor and each house of the state legislature. As of July 2021, the CCB has not been established. Until the CCB is established, New York cannot begin forming regulations for operators or establish the licensing process for adult-use cannabis businesses. Right now, it looks like we will see licensing open up in early 2022.

The state plans to offer several types of cannabis licenses. While the total number of licenses to be issued has not been decided, New York has established which type of licenses will be available. Adult-use cannabis licenses in New York include:

 

 

  • Cultivator – A cultivation licensee is permitted to grow cannabis to be sold to processors, distributors, retailers, and on-site consumption sites. A cultivator can only have one cultivator license. In addition, a cultivator can obtain one processor license and one distributor license solely for the distribution of the cultivator’s own products. Yet, an owner of a cultivation license cannot have a direct or indirect interest in more than one cultivation center. In addition, an owner of a cultivation license cannot also hold a direct or indirect interest in a retail dispensary license.
  • Processor – A processor license permits the creation of cannabis products through cannabis extractions. A processor can only have one processor license. A processor may obtain one cultivation license and one distributor license solely for the distribution of the processor’s own products. Yet, the owner of a processor license cannot also hold a direct or indirect interest in a retail dispensary license.
  • Distributor – A distributor purchases cannabis and cannabis products from licensed cultivators, processors, cooperatives, microbusinesses, or registered organizations and sells the cannabis and cannabis products to licensed retailers and on-site consumption sites. A person or entity issued an adult-use cannabis cultivator, processor, and/or distributor license may hold and operate all issued licenses on the same premises. Yet an owner of a distributor license cannot have a direct or indirect financial interest in any microbusiness, adult-use retail dispensary, adult-use on-site consumption licensee or in any registered organization.
  • Retailer – A retailer sells cannabis and cannabis products to consumers who are older than 21. Nobody can have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest in more than three adult-use retail dispensary licenses.
  • Delivery – A delivery license allows the licensee to deliver cannabis directly to customers older than 21. A delivery licensee cannot have more than 25 individuals providing full-time paid delivery services. New York has made clear that microbusiness licenses are intended to promote social equity applicants.
  • On-Site Consumption – An on-site consumption license permits consumers to purchase and consume cannabis at a facility. The CCB will develop more regulations, but it has made clear that activities such as gambling, contests, and fireworks are prohibited at on-site consumption facilities. In addition, no person can have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest in more than three on-site consumption licenses.
  • Microbusiness – A microbusiness license allows for limited cultivation, processing, distribution, delivery, and dispensing of their own adult-use cannabis and cannabis products. The CCB will determine the size of microbusinesses and the operating requirements for microbusinesses. Yet, the CCB has already established that a microbusiness may only distribute its own cannabis and cannabis products to dispensaries. A microbusiness licensee cannot hold a direct or indirect interest in any other New York cannabis license. New York has made clear that microbusiness licenses are intended to promote social equity applicants.
  • Cooperative – A cooperative license allows for vertically integrated (cultivation, processing, distribution/sale) of cannabis and cannabis products to other licensed cannabis business. The big caveat here is that a cooperative cannot sell products directly to consumers. That means a cooperative cannot operate a retail dispensary or deliver to consumers. Additionally, to qualify as a cooperative, the applicant must be a registered LLC or LLP in New York and comprised of New York residents, among other corporate requirements. No member of a cooperative can have a direct or indirect financial interest in another New York cannabis license.
  • Nursery – A nursey license permits the production, sale and distribution of clones, immature plants, seeds, and other agricultural products to licensed cultivation, cooperative, microbusinesses, and registered organizations in New York. In addition, a licensed cultivator is allowed to obtain one nursery license.
  • Registered Organization – Existing medical registered organizations can obtain a license to engage in adult-use cannabis activities. However, registered organizations are limited to dispensing adult-use cannabis at 3 retail dispensaries and are only allowed to sell their own products. Furthermore, registered organizations must continue to offer medical marijuana in compliance with regulations to be developed by the CCB.

New York plans to issue 50% of licenses to individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, minority- and woman-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veterans. A disproportionately impacted community is a geographical area that was adversely affected by cannabis prohibition during a certain time period when compared to the rest of the state. A minority-owned business is at least 51% owned by one or more minority group members, which is defined as black persons, Hispanic persons, Native American persons, and Asian and Pacific Islander persons. A women-owned business is at least 51% owned by one or more women. A distressed farmer is a New York state resident or business enterprise that either (1) meets the small farm classification developed by the USDA and has been disproportionately impacted; or (2) is a small farm operator and a member of a group that has been historically underrepresented in farm ownership. A service-disabled veteran business is at least 51% owned by one or more a veteran who received a compensation rating of 10% or greater from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or from the United States Department of Defense because of a service-connected disability incurred in the line of duty.

Cities, towns, and villages have until December 31, 2021, to enact local laws which prohibit retail sales and on-site consumption of cannabis. After December 31, 2021, local governments cannot prohibit retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites if a local law has not been enacted. Yet, the local government may place reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites. In other words, the local government can limit where and when retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites can operate so long as the restrictions are not overly burdensome and allow the businesses adequate time to operate.

New York has the potential to become one of the largest cannabis markets in the United States. As millions of people from all over the world visit, New York’s adult-use cannabis market is poised to succeed. We look forward to regulations being published in late 2021 and for applications for businesses to open up by early 2022.

By: Dustin Robinson

On February 22, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law “The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act” (“CREAMMA”) which established New Jersey’s adult-use marijuana industry. Under the act, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC”) will oversee the state’s adult-use marijuana industry and expand upon the 240 pages of legislation passed. The CRC met for the first time on April 12, 2021. The purpose of the CRC is to decide the start date of adult-use sales, establish the licensing process and the number of licenses to be awarded, and determine how tax dollars generated from adult-use marijuana sales are spent.

The CRC is mandated to adopt rules within 180 days after enactment of CREAMMA. The rules are expected to be released at the end of August or early September 2021. The initial rules and regulations adopted by the CRC will be in effect for a period not longer than one year.  The CRC will begin accepting and processing applications for licenses within 30 days after the CRC’s initial rules and regulations have been adopted. Licenses will need to be renewed annually.

There are several different types of adult-use licenses available, which include:

  • Class 1 Cultivator License – A cultivator grows, cultivates, and produces marijuana plants and raw materials. Cultivator licenses are capped at 37 for the first 24 months.
  • Class 2 Manufacturer License – A manufacturer manufactures, prepares, and packages marijuana items.
  • Class 3 Wholesaler License – A wholesaler stores, sells, and transfers marijuana items for resale to cannabis retailers or other wholesalers, but not to consumers.
  • Class 4 Distributor License – A distributor transports bulk amounts of marijuana between licensed facilities.
  • Class 5 Retailer License – A retailer sells adult-use marijuana to consumers from a retail store.
  • Class 6 Delivery Service License – Delivery service is a business authorized to deliver cannabis products from cannabis retailers to customers’ homes.
  • Microbusiness License – There is no cap on the number of licenses issued to microbusinesses. Furthermore, microbusinesses must account for at least 10% of each category of license issued and 25% of total licenses issued. To qualify as a microbusiness, (1) all the owners must be New Jersey residents who have resided in the state the last two consecutive years and (2) more than 51% of the owners, officers, directors, or employers live in the municipality that the microbusiness is located, (3) there are no more than 10 employees. If the microbusiness is a cultivator, the microbusiness is limited to no more than 2,500 square feet of grow space. If the microbusiness is a manufacturer, the microbusiness is limited to acquire no more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis per month to create products. If the microbusiness is a retailer, the microbusiness is limited to acquire no more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis per month to sell.
  • Testing Facility License – A testing facility analyzes and certifies cannabis items and medical cannabis for compliance with applicable health, safety, and potency standards.

During the initial 24-month period following enactment of CREAMMA, there are limitations on the number and classes of licenses any one licensee which include:

  • A licensed cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or delivery service cannot also be a licensed retailer and vice versa;
  • A cultivator or manufacturer may only hold two licenses at the same time; and
  • A wholesaler could not hold any other license besides distributor.

All adult-use cannabis applicants (except microbusiness applicants) must submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. Maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization is an ongoing material condition of maintaining a license. Additionally, priority for business licenses will be given to:

  • Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a bona fide labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent cannabis workers in New Jersey;
  • Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a bona fide labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state;
  • Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize a signed project labor agreement with a bona fide building trades labor organization; and
  • Applicants that submit a signed project labor agreement.

Licensed cannabis retailers are granted the exclusive opportunity to offer one social space for patrons to consume marijuana on the same premises as the retail location. These areas are considered “cannabis consumption areas” (“CCAs”). Licensed cannabis retailers will need to obtain state and local government cannabis consumption area endorsement before allowing consumption of marijuana on the premises. A local governmental entity (i.e., “a municipality”) may authorize the operation of a CCA for the personal use, medical use, or both personal use and medical use of cannabis within its jurisdiction through the adoption of an ordinance. A CCA may be either indoors or outdoors.

An indoor CCA is an enclosed area of the cannabis retailer that is separate from the retail sales area. The indoor CCA must be separated by solid walls or windows from the retail sales area, can only be accessed through an interior door after first entering the retailer, and must comply with all ventilation requirements applicable to cigar lounges. An outdoor CCA is an exterior structure on the same premises as the cannabis retailer, that is separate from or connected to the facility. It is not required to be completely enclosed, but it needs to have sufficient walls, fences, or other barriers to prevent any view of persons consuming cannabis items within the CCA from any persons outside the cannabis facility.

At least 70% of tax revenues generated from retail sales of cannabis products will be appropriated for investments to municipalities defined as “impact zones.” Specifically, impact zones are defined as any municipality, based on past criminal marijuana enterprises contributing to higher concentrations of law enforcement activity, unemployment and poverty within parts of or throughout the municipality, that:

  • Has a population of 120,000 or more according to the most recent census; or
  • Ranks in the top 40% of municipalities in the state for minor marijuana possession arrests; has a crime index of 825 or higher based upon the latest Uniform Crime Report of the Division of State Police; and has an annual average unemployment rate that ranks in the top 15% of all municipalities in the state.

New Jersey has reserved several applications for social equity applicants. Specifically, at least 15% of marijuana licenses are reserved for minority-owned business, at least 15% of marijuana licenses are reserved for women-owned and disabled-veteran-owned businesses, and at least 25% of marijuana licenses are reserved for applicants who have resided in an impact zone for three or more consecutive years at the time of making the application. In addition, priority is given to applicants who: (i) are located in an impact zone that has less than two licensees, (ii) are current residents of an impact zone and have resided there for three or more consecutive years before making the application, and (iii) presents a plan to employ at least 25% of its employees who reside in an impact zone.

Local government can impact cannabis business operations. Municipalities have 180 days from the enactment of CREAMMA to enact ordinances prohibiting adult-use cannabis businesses from operating within the municipality. If a municipality does not enact an ordinance prohibiting cannabis operations within 180 days, cannabis businesses will be permitted to operate in the municipality for a period of 5 years. Once cannabis businesses are permitted, each municipality has the authority to determine the number of cannabis businesses allowed to operate. In addition, municipalities can regulate where cannabis businesses operate, the manner in which they operate, and place restrictions on the times of operation. Yet, the local government cannot regulate delivery service operations. Only the CRC has authority over marijuana delivery to consumers.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis market. The state’s medical market is already strong, paving the way for a successful roll-out of an adult-use framework. We look forward to the end of August or early September 2021 for the state’s regulations to be published and applications available for cannabis businesses.

By: Dustin Robinson

On June 23, 2021, Governor Lamont signed into law the Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis Act (“RERACA”) which establishes Connecticut’s adult-use marijuana industry.  Under the bill, certain cannabis convictions are expunged, licensing for marijuana businesses is established, limitations from the local government are permitted, and taxes on marijuana are established. The Department of Consumer Protection (“DCP”) will oversee the state’s adult-use marijuana industry and will establish the number of licenses it plans to issue. While the total number of licenses to be issued has not yet been determined, the DCP will only allow a maximum of one retailer and one marijuana micro-cultivator (which can sell at retail) per 25,000 residents, as determined by the most recent census until June 30, 2024, which is about 144 licenses each. Thereafter, a new limit will be established.

There are several types of licenses that will be offered by the DCP, which include:

  • Retailer – A retailer sells adult-use marijuana directly to customers. For a social equity applicant, the retailer fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $2,500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $12,500. For all other applicants, the retailer fee to enter the lottery is $500, the fee for a provisional license is $5,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $25,000.
  • Hybrid Retailer – A hybrid retailer sells both adult-use and medical marijuana. For a social equity applicant, the hybrid retailer fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $2,500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $12,500. For all other applicants, the hybrid retailer fee to enter the lottery is $500, the fee for a provisional license is $5,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $25,000.
  • Cultivator – A cultivator grows marijuana in a facility with at least 15,000 square feet of grow space. For a social equity applicant, the cultivator fee to enter the lottery is $500, the fee for a provisional license is $12,500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $37,500. For all other applicants, the cultivator fee to enter the lottery is $1,000, the fee for a provisional license is $25,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $75,000.
  • Micro-Cultivator – A micro-cultivator grows marijuana in a facility that is between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet. The DCP will determine the starting size based on the projected marijuana supply. Subsequently, micro-cultivators can apply to expand their grow space by 5,000 square feet per year. The maximum size for a micro-cultivator is 25,000 square feet. After a micro-cultivation facility reaches 25,000 square feet, the business can apply for a cultivator license. The application for a cultivator license will not be conducted via a lottery. For a social equity applicant, the micro-cultivator fee to enter the lottery is $125, the fee for a provisional license is $250, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $500. For all other applicants, the micro-cultivator fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $1,000.
  • Product Manufacturer – A product manufacturer creates marijuana products through cannabis extractions. For a social equity applicant, the product manufacturer fee to enter the lottery is $375, the fee for a provisional license is $2,500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $12,500. For all other applicants, the product manufacturer fee to enter the lottery is $750, the fee for a provisional license is $5,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $25,000.
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturer – A food and beverage manufacturer creates cannabis-infused food and drink products. For a social equity applicant, the food and beverage manufacturer fee or delivery service fee to enter the lottery is $125, the fee for a provisional license is $500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $2,500. For all other applicants, the transporter fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $1,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $5,000.
  • Product Packager – A product packager is a person or company that is licensed to package and label marijuana products. For a social equity applicant, the product packager fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $2,500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $12,500. For all other applicants, the product packager fee to enter the lottery is $500, the fee for a provisional license is $5,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $25,000.
  • Delivery Service – Delivery service is a person or company licensed to deliver marijuana products from micro-cultivators, retailers, and hybrid retailers to customers and patients. For a social equity applicant, the fee to enter the lottery is $125, the fee for a provisional license is $500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $2,500. For all other applicants, the fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $1,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $5,000.
  • Transporter – A transporter is a person licensed to transport marijuana between licensed marijuana businesses, laboratories, and research programs. For a social equity applicant, the fee to enter the lottery is $125, the fee for a provisional license is $500, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $2,500. For all other applicants, the fee to enter the lottery is $250, the fee for a provisional license is $1,000, and the fee for a final license or renewal is $5,000.

Under RERACA, the DCP must reserve 50% of the maximum number of licenses it will issue to social equity applicants. To qualify as a social equity applicant, cannabis establishment license must be at least 65% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who: (1) have a median income for the last 3 years that is not higher than triple the state’s median income; and (2) lived in a disproportionately impacted area for either at least 5 of the past 10 years or 9 of their first 17 years of life. To meet the second requirement for social equity, a disproportionately impacted area is defined as a census tract that has either an unemployment rate of over 10% or a historical conviction rate for drug-related offenses greater than one-tenth. The DCP will publish a list of areas that qualify as disproportionately impacted areas by August 1, 2021, on its website.  In addition to 50% of the licenses being reserved, social equity applicants receive a 50% reduction in license fees for the first three renewal cycles.

The DCP will conduct two different lotteries for selecting marijuana licenses. The lottery for social equity applicants is first. As discussed above, at least 50% of the total licenses to be issued are reserved for social equity applicants. In the lottery, each entrant will receive a numerical ranking. After the DCP or a third-party lottery operator selects applicants, Connecticut’s Social Equity Council created by RERACA will verify that each application selected from the lottery qualifies as a social equity applicant without looking at any identifying information beyond what is necessary to establish if the applicant fits within the definition of social equity. An applicant that does not fit within the definition of social equity will be entered into the second lottery if the applicant pays the other half of the lottery fee. After determining the applicant does not qualify as a social equity applicant, the DCP or lottery operator will identify the next-ranked applicant who will then be reviewed. After 50% of the state’s licenses are issued, a second lottery will be conducted. In the second lottery, applications will be selected from unsuccessful social equity applicants in the first lottery and from all other applicants that do not qualify as social equity applicants.

There are several documents that are required to be submitted with each application. The DCP will likely develop many more application requirements as well. So far, each application requires:

  1. A contract with an approved seed-to-sale vendor in accordance with the bill’s provisions;
  2. Evidence that the applicant has the right to occupy the location where the cannabis establishment will be located;
  3. Evidence that the cannabis establishment obtained local zoning approval, if necessary.
  4. A labor peace agreement entered into between the cannabis establishment and a bona fide labor organization;
  5. A certification that they are using a project labor agreement for construction projects of $5 million or more.
  6. A social equity plan;
  7. A workforce development plan;
  8. Written policies for preventing diversion and misuse of cannabis and sales to underage persons; and
  9. All other security requirements set forth by the department based upon the specific license type;

While RERACA permits adult-use marijuana within the state, adult-use marijuana businesses may be restricted on a local level. Municipalities and residents can restrict adult-use establishments from operating. Specifically, municipalities can enact zoning regulations or local ordinances prohibiting the establishment of a marijuana establishment. In addition to prohibiting marijuana businesses, local government has the authority to place reasonable restrictions on business hours and signage. Yet, no municipality can restrict deliveries to consumers. The attitudes of local residents can also influence marijuana operations. If a local referendum is received that restricts marijuana establishments from operating and is (1) signed by 10% of the municipality’s voters and (2) is submitted at least 60 days before the date of any regular election, it will be included in the general election. If the referendum is approved by a majority of the voters in the election, marijuana establishments would be prohibited from operating in the municipality.

Connecticut is an exciting market for adult-use cannabis. The state is going to have several licensing opportunities. The DCP still needs to establish regulations for operators and applications, but the DCP expects licenses to be available by the end of 2022.[1]

[1] https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2021/06-2021/Governor-Lamont-Signs-Bill-Legalizing-and-Safely-Regulating-Adult-Use-Cannabis

To Access the Statement

04/23/2021

Vermont Bans Delta-8 THC

BREAKING NEWS: Today, Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Foods and Market issued a statement that Delta-8 THC is banned in Vermont. The Agency made clear that anyone who uses, possesses, or distributes Delta-8 THC may violate state criminal laws.

Excerpt for the Agency’s Statment:

Is the Manufacture of Delta-8-THC or its Use in Hemp Products Permitted under the Vermont Hemp Program?

The short answer is “No”.

Manufacturing delta-8-THC from CBD has become a way to create a psychoactive substance under the guise of being derived from legally produced hemp, which by definition does not have high concentrations of psychoactive cannabinoids.

The Vermont Hemp Rules were adopted in May 2020 and ban the “use of synthetic cannabinoids in the production of any hemp product or hemp-infused product.” Vermont Hemp Rules § 6.3. So, while naturally occurring delta-8-THC is not barred from hemp or hemp products, Vermont producers cannot manufacture the delta-8-THC cannabinoid from hemp.

Because the Vermont Hemp Rules expressly prohibit the use of synthetic cannabinoids in hemp products and/or hemp-infused product, Vermont Hemp Program registrants that manufacture and/or label products containing delta-8-THC are violating State law and risk enforcement by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. In addition, delta-8-THC manufactured from hemp may be a controlled substance under federal and/or State law. As a result, anyone who uses, possesses, or distributes delta-8-THC may face federal and/or State criminal sanctions.

To Access the Statement
As published in GreenEntrepreneur

 

By: Dustin Robinson

 

Florida’s marijuana market consists of 22 Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs). Each center owns a vertically-integrated license that allows and requires them to grow, process, dispense, and deliver medical marijuana. Also, five laboratories are licensed to perform third-party testing of medical marijuana.

In Florida, the medical marijuana license allows the current MMTCs to build out as big of a footprint as possible in preparation for adult use (recreational) legalization. This regulatory framework is unique from most other states, which provide specialized licenses and have a cap on the production of marijuana per license-holder.

Florida’s market potential

The Total Available Market, or TAM, is one of the most critical factors for any industry. Due to marijuana being federally illegal, marijuana companies cannot ship marijuana across state lines. Thus, in the marijuana industry, the TAM is limited to the company’s state. Florida’s marijuana industry happens to have one of the strongest TAMs in the world.

As of December of 2020, Florida has more than 450,000 qualified patients, consistently increasing by almost 3,000 patients per week. Patient growth has made Florida the largest medical-marijuana market in the country by sales. More importantly, Florida has a population of more than 20 million and a tourist population of almost 150 million, which means it is positioned to be one of the largest marijuana markets in the world once adult-use regulations go into effect. Currently, there are almost 300 retail locations, with an expected 500 locations by the end of 2022, which will make Florida one of the most dominant markets in the world.

A full arsenal of products

In mid-2019, Senate Bill 182 became effective and allowed for the possession, use, or administration of smokable marijuana flower in Florida. In 2020, Florida established rules for the production of edibles. Demand for marijuana edibles is growing across the country due to the rise in product offerings, a smoke-free method of consumption, and a more sanitary consumption method when compared to smoking dried flower in a joint or bowl.

Now that the Florida market has smokable flower and edibles, the current MMTCs and labs have a whole arsenal of products to license, develop, formulate, produce and sell. Due to the size of the medical marijuana market and the growing demand for edibles nationwide, marijuana edibles sales are projected to reach $250 million in Florida in the year 2021. These numbers will exponentially grow when Florida approves adult-use, allowing the current MMTCs and labs to tap into the full total market available of the adult-use market.

What’s next for Florida?

In 2020, Regulate Florida and Make it Legal Florida fell short of obtaining sufficient signatures to get their ballot initiatives. This was due to a late start and a lack of funding. However, there is potential that these initiatives will make it to the ballot in 2022.

When a state passes adult-use, it generally opens up the first round of licensing to current medical marijuana license-holders. So, the current MMTCs and labs, which will already have a massive footprint based on the current regulations, will be able to quickly shift from serving a limited TAM of qualified patients to a vast TAM of the entire Florida population, including tourists. This will be a massive windfall for the current MMTCs and labs and may cause revenues, profits, and valuations to sour.

The outcome of the highly anticipated Florida Supreme Court case, Florigrown, LLC v. Florida Department of Health, may result in more licenses eventually being issued. However, the process of issuing any license will likely take quite some time. Additionally, depending on the Supreme Court’s decision, the future licenses may come with much different rights than the vertically integrated license owned by the 22 Licensees. As a result, the 22 Licensees are in a great position to build multi-billion-dollar companies in Florida’s growing marijuana industry regardless of the decision in Florigrown. The future of the Sunshine State is looking bright after all!

As published in GreenEntrepreneur
As published in citybiz

Amanda Barton - Mr Cannabis Law

Mr. Cannabis Law, a full-service law firm focused exclusively on the marijuana, hemp, and psychedelic industries, is pleased to announce that Amanda L. Barton, Esq. has joined the firm as senior associate attorney.

Barton is a skilled transactional attorney with over a decade of experience advising on regulatory compliance, handling mergers and acquisitions, and drafting complex business governance documents and other contracts. She is fiercely passionate about the cannabis and psychedelic industries. Barton currently serves as president of the Broward Chapter of CannabisLAB, a networking and educational group for professionals in the cannabis industry.

As senior associate attorney at Mr. Cannabis Law, Barton will lead the firm in growing its practice areas of Mergers & Acquisitions, as well as Venture Capital Funds, which have recently seen a tremendous increase in business.

Prior to joining Mr. Cannabis Law, Barton was the lead transactional attorney at a boutique law firm in Fort Lauderdale, where she assisted entrepreneurs and corporate clients in all stages of development grow their businesses through strategic planning, liability and asset protection, and compliance with county, state, and federal regulations.

Before transitioning into the cannabis industry, Barton spent most of her legal career as in-house counsel with companies in the finance industry. She built a robust in-house legal team to handle the needs of a fintech company from the start-up stage through hypergrowth mode. While working in-house at a private investment company, Barton assisted with the formation and management of a $50 million private fund, investing in distressed municipal securities and with transactions involving hard money lending and debtor-in-possession financing.

“Ms. Barton’s passion and commitment to the cannabis industry, paired with her unique transactional experience working with creative entrepreneurs in other emerging industries, are valuable assets to our firm,” said Dustin Robinson, founding partner of Mr. Cannabis Law. “She will play a pivotal role in the success and growth of not only our firm but, more importantly, our clients’ companies. At Mr. Cannabis Law, we take pride in our out-of-the box approach to finding innovative solutions for our clients.”

Barton earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and minor in English from Stetson University, and her J.D. degree from Florida Coastal School of Law. In 2010, she was admitted to The Florida Bar.

For more information on Barton, visit mrcannabislaw.com/amanda-barton/.

As published in citybiz
As published in Sun-Sentinel

By: Austen Erblat

Having a Florida medical marijuana card doesn’t shield workers from being fired from their workplace over drug use.

A contradictory patchwork of rules has left some people bewildered: They’re surprised when their drug-free workplaces take action against them — invoking the federal law that bans marijuana — even though a majority of Florida voters backed medical marijuana in 2016.

Now, as a newly proposed state law aims to finally clarify the rights of workers who use medical marijuana, experts are weighing in on how to best handle any potential workplace woes that result from its use.

What’s being done to help workers?

A new bill coming before the state Legislature this year aims to boost workplace protections for people who use medical marijuana, after some employees in Florida have lost their jobs over using medical pot. Among those fired in recent years have been a U.S. Marine veteran with PTSD from Ocala, a Brevard County teacher and an information-technology worker in West Palm Beach.

State Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, filed a bill that would protect state and local government employees in Florida from discipline at work for using medical marijuana under the recommendation of their physician. State Rep. Nicholas Duran, D-Miami, also filed an identical bill in the state House.

Polsky filed a similar bill in last year’s legislative session when she was a state representative to protect all Floridians, including private sector employees. That bill failed in committee, so she’s trying again with a narrower focus.

The bills, if passed, are worded to still allow employers to prohibit marijuana use on the clock. But they would prohibit employers from taking any adverse personnel action, including refusal to hire or employ; the discharge, suspension, transfer or demotion of a worker; forcing a mandatory retirement; or discrimination against a qualified patient, according to the bills’ language.

Some workplaces may feel they’re bound by federal law, while others may be unknowingly breaking it.

“They should know that they’re allowed to keep someone if they have a medical marijuana card,” Polsky said. “They may want an employee to stay but feel they’re forced to terminate them.”

The state legislative session began last week, and Polsky said she faces an uphill battle in having her bill heard. “You can’t put [medical marijuana] out there into the public and not fix this,” Polsky said. “You have to give employees and employers the information that they need.”

Workers “should not be faulted if it has nothing to do with their performance.”

I have a medical marijuana card. Should I tell my employer and, if so, when?

Honesty is the best policy when talking with your employer about your use of medical marijuana, according to attorney Dustin Robinson, founding partner of Fort Lauderdale-based Mr. Cannabis Law, which specializes in legal issues surrounding medical marijuana and psychedelic drugs.

“My policy is: ‘If they ask you, always be honest,’” Robinson said. “There might be [medical privacy law] implications, so I don’t know that an employer would even be allowed to ask that.”

“But if you know you’re going to get drug tested, I would be open and honest with my employer and let them know I have a medical marijuana card.”

To use medical marijuana in Florida in compliance with state law, first you need to get a card from a physician who is specially trained and certified by the state. The Florida Office of Medical Marijuana keeps a directory of those physicians on its website under the “Patients” tab and then “Qualified Physician Search.”

In Florida, medical marijuana is recommended for serious health conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. But doctors also can recommend medical marijuana for chronic pain or other conditions related to those approved by the state.

Appointments are typically $169 to $300 and state law requires an appointment every seven months. The cards are $75, paid to the state, which typically takes about 10 days to review and process payments, but they could take longer due to recent increases in applications.

Once people have a card, they may purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary, because doctors cannot sell the product itself.

While some employers have zero-tolerance policies, others take a progressive approach to discipline that may start with a warning or suspension and repeat offenses could result in termination. Some workplaces are turning a blind eye to marijuana use completely. Your options in talking with your employer about medical marijuana will depend on a lot of details, such as who you work for and what you do.

“It’s a tough question,” Robinson said. “There’s no right answer.”

Do drug tests show if an employee recently used medical marijuana?

Marijuana is unique in that there are no drug tests that show whether you’re impaired when you take the test versus having taken the drug the day before or a week prior,” said Cathleen Scott, managing partner at Scott Wagner and Associates, a West Palm Beach law firm that specializes in employment, civil rights and health care law.

The duration that marijuana can stay in someone’s system depends on how often they use it, but most urine tests can detect marijuana multiple days or even over a month after someone last used it.

So an employee who uses medical marijuana to treat a chronic illness or severe anxiety each night can go to work the next day completely sober, but if they’re tested for marijuana, they will likely receive a positive result.

Can companies have their workers’ cars searched for marijuana?

This depends on a variety of factors, including employee policies, who owns the vehicle and where an employee’s car is parked. If an employer owns the vehicle, they can almost always search it. Employees enjoy more privacy when they own or lease the cars they take to and from work.

If parked in a private parking lot or garage owned by your employer, they may be able to check your car for the presence of drugs, Robinson said. If parked in a public place like a shared garage, a shopping plaza’s parking lot or on the street, you have more protection, he said.

“That would be dependent on the workplace policy,” Robinson said. “Just the same, trying to search someone’s purse for substances just comes down to what that workplace policy is.”

Are there companies that have stopped testing for marijuana?

More companies are dropping marijuana tests, out of concern for losing talented workers, Scott said.

Autonation, the largest car dealer in the U.S., quietly stopped testing job applicants for marijuana in 2016. They still ban employees from using medical marijuana at work and employees who get into a car accident while driving on the job, for example, can still be fired if they test positive for marijuana.

The company’s CEO publicly announced the change two years later.

The common thread, even among progressive workplaces, is that what you do at home and on your time is your business, just don’t show up to work impaired. If medical marijuana is taking a visible toll on your performance, you should expect to be tested and prepared to be disciplined or fired.

Many employers have moved away from testing for marijuana, even though they may not publicize their policies.

What option do workers have if they’ve been fired for medical marijuana use?

Experts agree that workers could have a few options in arguing that their firing was illegal or violated workplace policies.

The Americans with Disabilities Act does not protect medical marijuana users, because marijuana is still federally illegal.

The Florida Civil Rights Act, however, protects against unfair discrimination, including on the basis of a disability, employment lawyers say. That worker may need to provide evidence to a court of a genuine disability, such as medical records.

If an employee of a workplace that requires reasonable suspicion of drug use before a drug test is tested without that bar being met, there could also be constitutional issues, said Scott.

As published in Sun-Sentinel