Happy Halloween week! Please see updates on ME, MD, MA, MI, OK, along with Federal Tax and Hemp news below.
In Maine, Erik Gundersen, Director of the Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), said applications for recreational marijuana retail licenses will be accepted by the end of the year. Gundersen was cautious in predicting how long it would take to process applications and issue licenses, saying that it depends on the complexity of the application.
The OMP partnered with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to unveil the first-ever shared universal symbol for marijuana and marijuana products. Introduction of the universal symbol in Maine comes as OMP prepares to complete final adoption of its rules that will serve as the regulatory framework for the state’s new adult-use industry.
Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission is planning two independent investigations into the latest process for awarding licenses, a procedure that’s been put on hold after complaints and litigation. One investigation will check whether the licensing review process was conducted fairly, while the other investigation will check the veracity of information included in high-ranking applications.
In Massachusetts, the Cannabis Control Commission issued guidance created to assist Marijuana Establishments and prospective Marijuana Establishment agents with the registration process required under 935 CMR 500.030. Marijuana Establishments must apply for agent registrations for board members, directors, executives, managers, employees, and volunteers. More information on requirements can be found within the guidance document.
Michigan regulators will start accepting recreational marijuana business applications this Friday, November 1st. State regulators are expecting to grant the first licenses for recreational cannabis businesses in a matter of weeks but retail sales are likely still a long way off because the plants for the market still need to be grown and tested. The state will not allow for transfer of medical product to the recreational market because the first priority is to ensure that there’s adequate inventory and access for medical patients. As such, recreational sales aren’t expected to begin until March or April at the earliest.
Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) compliance inspections are quickly picking up. The OMMA must give 24-hours notice to permit inspection during business hours or at a time of “apparent operation.” However, the agency is not required to give 24-hour notice if there is a “showing of necessity.”
While the state's medical cannabis law requires products to have proof of testing before they can be sold, OMMA has still not approved any laboratories for product testing. New information and emergency rules regarding testing laboratory, research facility, education facility, and waste disposal facility licenses will be available on the OMMA website soon. The updated application system will launch on November 1, 2019.
OMMA is working to re-establish a call center after previously closing the center due to the high volume of incoming applications earlier this year.
Taxes: The U.S. Tax Court again ruled that Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Service tax code is constitutional and cannabis companies aren’t entitled to common business deductions. The ruling comes on the heels of multiple MJ industry losses in Tax Court last December and a warning from a former IRS attorney that more 280E audits and related actions are likely on the way for cannabis businesses. Despite the best efforts of some of the top legal minds in the marijuana industry, 280E remains in effect and likely will until the U.S. Congress acts to change the law.
Hemp: The White House approved plans to regulate hemp and its derivatives on Friday, signing off on interim final rules for the crop that were submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While details of the plan are yet to be seen, they’re expected to provide clarity on a wide range of hemp-specific policies such as THC potency testing guidelines and quality control standards. The rules will be released for public comment soon.
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