Know Your Herbs

Alabama Pauses Medical Cannabis Licenses, Citing Problems With Application Process

Regulators in Alabama last week abruptly suspended the process of awarding business licenses for the state’s new medical cannabis program, citing the “discovery of potential inconsistencies” in the application process.

During an emergency meeting on Friday, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission voted to “stay all proceedings related to the current offering of medical cannabis business licenses.”

The commission said that the stay was issued following the “discovery of potential inconsistencies in the tabulation of scoring data” used to evaluate applications for business licenses. During the commission, the commission said that it will “seek an independent review of all scoring data.”

“The Commission will work expeditiously to investigate and identify inconsistencies in the score data,” said Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission director, John McMillan. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending all current procedural timelines until those matters are resolved.”

In a press release on Friday, the commission did not provide a timetable for the length of the stay, saying only that it will “remain in effect until lifted by the Commission.”

The stay will impact the following procedural requirements of the medical cannabis program, per the press release: “Applicants who were awarded a license on June 12, 2023, are not required to pay the license fee by June 26, 2023; Applicants who were denied award of license on June 12, 2023, are not required to submit a request for investigative hearing by June 26, 2023; Licenses that were awarded on June 12, 2023, will not issue on July 10, 2023.”

The stay marks a sudden reversal for the commission, which last week had kicked off the process of awarding around 90 business licenses for the new medical cannabis program.

At the time of the announcement, the Medical Cannabis Commission said that the “University of South Alabama (USA) was engaged… to coordinate the application review process and recruit evaluators to assess the scored exhibit items for all 90 applicants.” 

“[The University of South Alabama] utilized 66 evaluators, with experience relevant to the application content, to review one of eight scoring categories: (1) Financial Ability; (2) Business/Management Approach; (3) Operations Plans & Procedures; (4) Facility Suitability & Infrastructure; (5) Security Plan; (6) Personnel; (7) Quality Control & Testing; or (8) Marketing & Advertising. Each scored exhibit was independently reviewed by two evaluators to assess the applicant’s solvency, stability, suitability, capability, projected efficiency, and experience, both in relation to any baseline set by the Commission as well as in comparison with other applicants,” the commission explained.

“Those applicants who were awarded a license will have 14 days to submit the appropriate license fee to the Commission. At its meeting on July 10, 2023, the Commission is scheduled to issue licenses in each license category,” the commission continued. “Under the rules promulgated by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, physicians may begin the certification process to recommend medical cannabis after business licenses have been issued. For a patient to qualify for medical cannabis, the patient must have at least one of the qualifying conditions and be recommended for medical cannabis by a certified physician.”

Now, all of that has been paused until further notice, leaving the immediate future of the new law shrouded in uncertainty.

Alabama legalized medical cannabis in 2021, when Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill making the treatment available to certain individuals with qualifying conditions.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said after signing the bill into law. “On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.”

The post Alabama Pauses Medical Cannabis Licenses, Citing Problems With Application Process appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes

New Jersey Gets More Than 170 Cannabis Dispensary Applications On First Day

New Jersey began accepting applications on Tuesday from individuals hoping to get in on the ground floor of the state’s coming recreational cannabis industry. By day’s end, state regulators had attracted plenty of interest. reported that the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission said that by 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, it had received 172 applications from individuals interested in opening a cannabis retail store.

“Today is the day where the CRC (Cannabis Regulatory Commission) portal opens and applicants who wish to apply for a retail license to sell cannabis … are allowed to do so,” said Michael DeLoreto, a director at Gibbons’ Government and Regulatory Affairs Department, as quoted by “This is a day that a lot of businesses have been waiting for.”

New Jersey voters legalized recreational adult-use cannabis in 2020 when they approved a ballot measure (three other states –– Montana, Arizona and South Dakota –– likewise passed legalization proposals at the ballot that year).

In December, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission began accepting applications for recreational cannabis cultivators, manufacturers and testing labs. The commission said that by early afternoon on the first day of the application period, “the application platform was averaging 155 new users per hour.”

Within the first four hours, the commission said that it had received applications from nearly 500 individuals.

“We are happy to reach this milestone,” Jeff Brown, executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said at the time. “Applications are coming in, the platform is performing well, and we can officially mark the launch of the state’s recreational cannabis industry. Getting cultivators, manufacturers, and testing labs licensed and operating will set the framework and establish supply for retailers who will start licensing in March 2022.”

Late last month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said that he believed adult-use sales would begin “within weeks.”

“If I had to predict, we are within weeks—I would hope in March—you would see implicit movement on the medical dispensaries, some of them being able to sell recreational,” Murphy said at the time. “They’ve got to prove they’ve got the supply for their medical customers. I hope shortly thereafter, the standalone recreational marijuana operators.”

Along those lines, reported that Tuesday “also marked the day when the state panel expected to finish reviewing applications from eight of about [a] dozen alternative treatment centers that sell medical marijuana and are looking to the expand to the recreational market.”

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission has said that it is prioritizing applications from “designated target communities, for people with cannabis convictions (expunged or not), and for minorities, women, and disabled veterans.”

The three groups that will receive priority consideration from the commission are “minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned,” businesses “owned by people who have lived in an Economically Disadvantaged Area of the state, or who have convictions for cannabis-related offenses (expunged or not),” and businesses “located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from an Impact Zone, or employing residents of Impact Zones.”

Expanding access to the cannabis industry for disadvantaged groups has become a common feature of recreational laws across the country. New York announced last week that at least 100 of the first licenses for adult-use cannabis retailers in the state will be designated for individuals convicted of a previous cannabis-related offense, or a family member of someone with a cannabis-related offense.

Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board in New York, said last month that the state is trying to “build a supportive ecosystem that allows people to participate no matter their economic background and we want everyone to know they have a real opportunity at a license as well as support so that their businesses will be ongoing enterprises that are successful and have the opportunity for growth.”

The post New Jersey Gets More Than 170 Cannabis Dispensary Applications On First Day appeared first on High Times.

Source: Hightimes

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