by Madeline Grant, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager
As the deadline to submit feedback for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act approached last week, our Government Relations team worked tirelessly to submit a detailed analysis and recommended improvements on behalf of the legal cannabis industry. The full comments and an executive summary can be downloaded here. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), submitted in July by Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances, create a regulatory structure and federal guidelines for cannabis products and state-legal markets, and is intended to support restorative justice for the people and communities that have been disparately hurt by prohibition while ensuring fair opportunities in legal cannabis markets for small businesses and marginalized communities.
The introduction of the comprehensive draft language was a pivotal moment for the United States Senate and NCIA will continue to do whatever we can to ensure value-driven policies for the cannabis industry. Meanwhile, we continue to see movement at the state level as support for cannabis legalization efforts continues to grow. Here are some important updates happening at the state level.
California officials announced that they are soliciting proposals for a program aimed at helping small marijuana cultivators with environmental clean-up and restoration efforts. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Cannabis Restoration Grant program will release applications this fall and remain open through spring 2023. The $6 million in potential funding, which comes from cannabis tax revenue, must go to government agencies, California nonprofits, or Native American tribes who would then work with cultivators on environmental efforts.
The newly inaugurated governor of New York says she wants to “jumpstart” the implementation of cannabis legalization. Governor Kathy Hochul took a major step by making two key regulatory appointments to oversee the state’s cannabis market. Soon after they were quickly confirmed by the Senate during a special session. Former New York Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright (D) will serve as chair of the Cannabis Control Board, and former Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) staffer Christopher Alexander will be the executive director of the state’s Office of Cannabis Management.
Ohio activists can begin collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) launched its ballot effort last month. The new initiative is a statutory proposal and if supporters collect 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters, the legislature will then have four months to adopt the measure, reject it, or adopt an amended version. In the case of lawmakers not passing the proposal, an additional 132,887 signatures will be required to place the proposal before voters on the ballot in 2022.
Another adult-use legalization proposal has been filed. Legal Missouri 2022 submitted the latest measure to the secretary of state’s office, and it will now go through a review period before potentially being certified.
The Cannabis Control Division announced applications are now open for businesses interested in legal cannabis producers licensed by the state of New Mexico. After an application is submitted, regulators will have 90 days to issue a determination.
Colorado voters will decide on an initiative in November that would raise cannabis taxes to fund programs that are meant to reduce the education gap for low-income students. The secretary of state confirmed that the campaign behind the measure collected more than the required 124,632 valid signatures to make the ballot. The measure would give low and middle-income families a $1,500 stipend to have school-aged children participate in afterschool programs, tutoring, and summer learning programs.
As states continue to legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, be sure to check out our state policy map for updates. Our Government Relations team will continue to educate congressional offices as states move forward. It’s vital to have accurate information and resources for members and Congress and staffers on Capitol Hill. With advancements at the state level, we continue to relay the importance of cannabis legalization at the federal level. Please stay tuned for more updates from our Government Relations team.