There was a lot of cannabis news last week from coast to coast. In Nevada, a state of emergency was declared to improve supply as retailers struggled keeping products on the shelves. Alaska considered a rule to allow public consumption. A legalization bill was introduced in Wisconsin. And. in Massachusetts, lawmakers continue to resolve the legislative deadlock. Find out about that more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
On Thursday, Nevada regulators approved emergency regulations to boost the supply of recreational cannabis as dispensaries face shortages following the July 1 start of recreational marijuana sales. In June, a judge ruled that distributor licenses may only be granted to alcohol wholesalers for the next 18 months. Licensed distributors are the only entities allowed to transport marijuana from growers to retailers under the recreational marijuana law passed by voters in November.
Officials at the Department of Taxation had determined in March that insufficient interest existed among alcohol wholesalers to meet demand for recreational cannabis, and sought to license some existing medical marijuana dispensaries to serve as their own recreational cannabis distributors. The judge sided with alcohol wholesalers who argued that the DoT failed to follow proper regulatory procedure in making that determination.
The new emergency regulation states that the Department of Taxation is allowed to issue distributor licenses to dispensaries in order to meet demand. It also requires that alcohol wholesalers demonstrate the capacity to meet demand, and detail how they plan to avoid jeopardizing their liquor licensing while distributing a product that remains illegal under federal law.
- Related Story: What Happened During Nevada’s First Weekend Of Legal Weed?
Earlier on Thursday, the Nevada Department of Taxation issued its first recreational marijuana distributor license to an alcohol wholesaler, Crooked Wine.
On Friday, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted to approve a rule allowing adults to consume marijuana on the premises of recreational retail stores. The rule would require that consumption occur in a room or facility separate from the actual retail shop. Currently, cannabis can only be consumed inside of private residences, which poses a problem for tourists and others for whom that may not be an option.
On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly passed a resolution urging state regulators to allow consumption of marijuana on retail premises. The Board will make a final decision on the proposal following a public comment period of 60 days.
On Thursday, Rep. Melissa Sargent introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin. The legislation would allow residents 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home, while non-resident adults would be allowed to possess up to a quarter-ounce. The bill also permits doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions, requires insurers to cover medical cannabis, and prohibits employers from discriminating against marijuana users.
Governor Scott Walker has rejected the idea of legalizing marijuana, and other marijuana reform legislation has died in the legislature in recent years.
On Monday, lawmakers from the Massachusetts House and Senate resumed negotiations over legislation to implement recreational cannabis legalization in the state. In June, members of the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the voter-approved recreational marijuana law and replace it with a bill of its own.
The House bill would effectively raise taxes on marijuana sales from 12 percent to 28 percent, remove the authority of municipal voters to regulate the opening of cannabis retailers, and impose more stringent regulations on recreational cannabis than the ballot measure intended.
A Senate bill, meanwhile, would leave the ballot measure in place with some small modifications. These include changing the way marijuana is regulated at the state level, requiring municipal referenda on the opening of recreational retailers, and expunging past convictions for marijuana possession. Talks had been suspended the prior week while lawmakers hammered out a deal on the state’s budget.