Last week in marijuana legislative news, Congress passed a budget extension that will keep states’ medical marijuana laws in place temporarily. Californians are counting down the days for adult recreational marijuana. And in Michigan, emergency rules were established while a permanent regulatory framework is approved. Read all about these developments and more in The Fresh Toast’s Marijuana Legislative Roundup for Dec. 11.
On Thursday, Congress passed a budget extension that will keep federal protections on medical marijuana in place until December 22. The legislation, known as a continuing resolution, keeps the previous budget in place until a new budget can be agreed on. That includes a provision known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer (or Rohrabacher-Farr) Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
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The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment has been included in every federal spending package since 2014, and this is the fourth time the measure has been extended this year. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to Congress earlier this year urging lawmakers not to extend the amendment.
On Friday, California began accepting applications from businesses seeking to operate in the state’s recreational cannabis market starting next year. Businesses are required to have local permits to operate before they can seek licensing from the state, and are required to provide various forms of supporting documentation. With time running short before the scheduled January 1 start of recreational sales, few cities and municipalities have finalized their own regulations and even fewer have begun granting permits to local businesses. It is therefore unclear how many businesses will be able to begin selling recreational cannabis on January 1.
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On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana retailers to operate in the city. Under the new rules, businesses will largely be banned from residential neighborhoods, and buffer zones will be established around schools and parks where retailers cannot operate. The mayor is expected to sign the regulations, which will take effect immediately.
On Monday, Governor Rick Snyder issued a set of emergency regulations for the state’s new medical marijuana system. The rules impose hefty capital requirements and licensing fees for dispensaries, along with a number of security-related measures and fines for noncompliance. Under the new rules, businesses will be able to grow, process, and sell cannabis products at the same location with the permission of municipal governing bodies, as long as there are separate facilities for each.
The new licensing system was mandated by a 2016 law that sought to clarify perceived ambiguities in the medical marijuana initiative passed by voters in 2008, as well as impose a 3 percent tax on dispensaries. With two weeks to go before a deadline to begin accepting applications under the new law, the Governor’s office issued the temporary rules while a permanent regulatory framework is finalized.