New group launch: the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform. The new coalition aims, as its name suggests, to nudge federal officials toward rescheduling or descheduling cannabis at a time when a formal review is underway at the direction of President Joe Biden. Back in October, Biden took the unprecedented step of asking the Department of Health and
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New group launch: the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform.
The new coalition aims, as its name suggests, to nudge federal officials toward rescheduling or descheduling cannabis at a time when a formal review is underway at the direction of President Joe Biden.
Back in October, Biden took the unprecedented step of asking the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to assess how the federal government classifies cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.
“We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense,” Biden tweeted in October.
The coalition plans to release a report that “will detail the critical benefits of descheduling cannabis or rescheduling it to Schedule III, IV or V.”
The coalition’s membership is already extensive, and includes Acreage Holdings, American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp (ATACH), Columbia Care, Cresco Labs, Curaleaf, Dutchie, Green Thumb Industries, Housing Works, Justus Foundation, National Cannabis Roundtable, New York CAURD Coalition, PharmaCann, Scotts Miracle–Gro, Verano Holdings, and The Weldon Project, among many others.
In New York, enforcement is coming.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards hosted Pascale Bernard, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs for the Office of Cannabis Management, so that city officials could ask questions and hear updates about state cannabis rules and unlicensed cannabis businesses in Queens.
Richards started the meeting by saying that he was the first person in Queens to make a legal cannabis purchase (he “did have a gummy. That will be the last time”).
Bernard covered topics like fines and the different types of enforcement powers that are available after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill last month to increase penalties for large-scale unlicensed activities (like opening a storefront, not like selling a few grams).
The next steps for OCM are for the Office to make sure that it is “operationally grounded and ready to go on enforcement actions.” OCM is now securing storage facilities that will hold unlicensed cannabis and cannabis products; finalizing forms needed to track inventory and other reporting; and “creating and printing closure stickers” that will go on unlicensed storefronts.
“We’re really trying to aggressively get the information out, because we do plan to use these new powers. We don’t have new powers for nothing. Superman can stop something, and he does it,” Bernard said.
Richards brought up that one complication is that many owners of unlicensed shops don’t even live in New York. So, Richards asked, how will OCM proceed if owners are unable to be located, or unresponsive?
“The owners of these shops and everything live in Florida,” Richards said. “Are we really going to collect these fines? Do we just throw locks on their door?”
“This is, again, a joint effort. We have the interagency task force at the local level. At the state level, it is OCM, it is the Department of Tax and Finance, and it is the State Attorney General’s Office,” Bernard said. “I am quite sure, I have full faith, in all three offices, as well as the sheriff and the NYPD, that we can find anybody.”
Sources have told Cannabis Wire that the first enforcement actions after Hochul’s bill signing are imminent.
In Congress: New bill seeks to expand cannabis research.
Rep. Dina Titus has introduced H.R. 3829, the Higher Education Marijuana Research Act of 2023, which would “streamline the process for institutions of higher education to research marijuana.”
“The legal, responsible use of cannabis has been a major economic driver in Nevada and across the country and deserves further research,” said Rep. Titus in a statement.
“Most of that research will come from academia, where right now too many universities and researchers do not have robust protections for even possessing what they are researching. As a former professor, I’m introducing this commonsense legislation to support their work and help us all learn more about the effects and potential uses of cannabis.”