There was a lot of cannabis news last week from coast to coast. In Nevada, the distribution uncertainty continues. In California, 10 marijuana-related bills were tabled in order to give the new Bureau of Cannabis Control time to get set. And in Tennessee, medical marijuana will be studied. Find out about that more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
Last week, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz sponsored an amendment to the Consolidated Appropriations Act that would protect medical marijuana research from federal law enforcement action. The amendment would bar the Department of Justice from using federal funds to “prevent or delay the approval of an application, which complies with all applicable requirements, submitted to the Attorney General to possess, distribute, or manufacture a schedule I controlled substance, including marihuana, for the purposes of conducting research, for a substance that is legal for medicinal use pursuant to State law…”
The Justice Department has reportedly been blocking efforts to increase the number of entities licensed to grow the plant for research, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has expressed skepticism regarding the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The amendment could go before the House Rules Committee as early as this week.
On Tuesday, Nevada regulators dismissed an appeal brought by a group of liquor wholesalers over recreational cannabis distribution licenses. A provision of the marijuana legalization measure approved by voters in November granted liquor wholesalers exclusive rights to such licenses. However, the Nevada Department of Taxation ruled earlier this year that there was insufficient interest among liquor wholesalers to meet demand for the drug, and began accepting applications from marijuana businesses.
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A lengthy court challenge by the group of wholesalers has led to uncertainty and supply shortages since the July 1 start of recreational sales. A Carson City judge ruled in favor of the Taxation Department, which nevertheless agreed to postpone issuing licenses until after it heard the group’s formal appeal on August 29. The state will now begin issuing licenses to other applicants in addition to liquor wholesalers in an effort to meet demand for recreational marijuana.
On Friday, 10 separate marijuana-related regulatory bills were shelved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in order to give the new Bureau of Cannabis Control time to finalize its comprehensive set of marijuana regulations. The bills would have restricted where marijuana could be consumed and how it could be advertised, among other issues.
Many of the bills were redundant or dealt with issues already addressed by the Bureau of Cannabis Control. The Bureau is expected to begin issuing new licenses and regulations for the state’s medical and recreational marijuana systems on January 2.
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell announced the creation of a committee to study medical marijuana legalization. The Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Cannabis will “study, evaluate, analyze and undertake a comprehensive review regarding whether the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes is in the best interest of the state.” The move comes just months after a bill to legalize medical cannabis died in the state Senate, and is seen as a first step in the process of eventual enactment of a medical marijuana law.