State agencies say that purchase limits for New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program patients will not be increasing this year and have denied a request to set higher plant limits for medical cannabis producers.
Last month a group of medical cannabis producers sent a letter to state health officials voicing concerns that the freshly signed Cannabis Regulation Act could lead to massive supply shortages over the next few months. The letter requested that the state increase the number of plants that companies are allowed to grow to keep up with what they interpreted to be a nearly limitless demand. For years state cannabis producers have complained that state-imposed plant limits are arbitrary and lack a rational basis. Now the problem seems inescapable.
The letter pointed out that the new law only limited the amount of cannabis that an individual can purchase and transport. It does not limit the amount of cannabis that a person can keep stored on their property, though. Current medical cannabis rules ban patients from purchasing more than 8 ounces of marijuana products over a rolling 90-day period, but the letter argued that the new law would override the current rules.
But Health Secretary Tracie Collins and Regulation and Licensing Superintendent Linda Trujillo wrote a letter denying the request and confirming that the purchase limits for patients would not be increasing until after the recreational market is established.
“Until such time as commercial cannabis activity is permitted by the Cannabis Control Division, qualified patients will remain limited to medical purchases,” they wrote. “Once commercial cannabis activity is permitted to occur, qualified patients will be allowed to purchase greater quantities of cannabis, consistent with the increased limits applicable to commercial cannabis activity.”
The letter also stated that medical exemptions from excise and gross receipts taxes on marijuana will only apply to cannabis purchased within the limits set by the state, meaning that if a patient wants to buy more than the law allows, they have to pay taxes like everybody else.
AG: Legal Weed is Not DOJ Priority
Last week U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers that the Justice Department won’t be prioritizing marijuana law enforcement in states that have legalized the drug.
The statement comes as a relief following surprise turnarounds from the supposedly pro-decriminalization Biden administration (like Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s stance reversal on drug decriminalization and Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent confirmation that the administration would not be fulfilling its promise to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level any time soon).
During a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting, Garland was asked whether the DOJ would be targeting illegal cannabis operations in California. The attorney general said he wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the issue but was sure that it fell under the DOJ’s jurisdiction.
“But the department’s view on marijuana use is that enforcement against use is not a good use of our resources,” Garland added. “And I understand that’s not what you’re talking about. You’re talking about growing and manufacturing at a large scale. It is probably not a good use of our resources where it is regulated by the state—and again, I take it that that’s not what you’re asking about.”
It’s interesting that Garland chose this moment to make the statement (considering no one was actually asking about it), and it could mean that Garland was just waiting for any opportunity.
It’s a far cry from our time under the dastardly Jeff Sessions, who rescinded the Cole memorandum—an order during the Obama administration that advised federal prosecutors to stop pursuing cannabis prosecutions in states that legalized the drug in any capacity.
Bills Could Allow Federal Aid For Weed Businesses
Two bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives could open the door to allowing cannabis businesses to gain access to small business assistance from the federal government.
According to Marijuana Moment, cannabis businesses employ around 320,000 workers in the U.S., yet those businesses are barred from applying for federal aid because of cannabis’ legal status. But two new bills could change all that by giving marijuana companies access to loans, disaster relief and grant programs.
The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act of 2021 would give cannabis businesses access to federally available services like microloans, disaster assistance and the loan guarantee program through the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). Provisions in the bill will also prevent private lenders and development companies from refusing to work with marijuana companies.
HR 2649—To Decriminalize Cannabis, to Establish an Equitable Licensing Grant Program in the Small Business Administration and For Other Purposes (a mouthful, to be sure) would establish an SBA grant program that would provide funding to help small businesses with licensing and employment. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), said it will focus on serving businesses from communities impacted by the War on Drugs. It would also remove cannabis from the federal list of scheduled narcotics.
Advisory Committee Applications Spike
Applications for the cannabis advisory committee are rolling in.
The Cannabis Regulation Act requires the Cannabis Control Division to create a Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee by Sept. 1. The committee, which will advise the division on policy, is given strict requirements for its membership by the law. Members of specific groups are expected to make up its ranks, including experts in environmental issues, medical marijuana, retailers and cannabis patients. The group will be tasked with conducting studies that will analyze data associated with legalization and with monitoring the state’s marijuana supplies.
Last week the state’s regulation and licensing department reportedly received over 100 applications to join the group.
Study: Users Looked to Weed For Happiness During Pandemic
A new study found that marijuana purchases rose along with COVID cases last year, and most medical cannabis patients reported using the drug to treat mental health problems.
Healthcare company Veriheal, the London School of Economics, University of Southern California and University of Maryland and the Cultivating Research Education and Advocacy (CREA) Group recently presented the study to the American Chemical Society. It found that 55 percent of patients surveyed said they used cannabis “to feel ‘happy’” during the pandemic.