South Dakota Seeks Changes to Medical Rules

Finally, medical cannabis is legal in South Dakota, a state that legalized in 2020 before facing numerous hurdles in order to make medical pot official. And still, the state’s dispensaries haven’t started distributing it. The next step to make that happen is a change in regulations, which is currently in the works behind the scenes. 

In South Dakota, medical cannabis is overseen by The South Dakota Department of Health. They recently held a public hearing to go over proposed changes and how things could move forward in the state if approved. Despite the hearing taking place on June 21, there is still time to submit written comments on the changes. Comments will be accepted through July 1, either by email or snail mail. 

Once the final comments are received, the department will make a decision. The changes must first be analyzed by the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, which will make a decision on those proposed changes at their July 19 meeting. 

These changes are separate from those already approved that take place on July 1, the Legislature’s code counsel, John McCullough, pointed out. The other changes referenced are those that were approved by Senate Bill 4 when it passed during the most recent legislative session.

These already approved changes include a major milestone for healthcare providers. According to this change, a physician no longer is required to state that the patient will be likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefits from medical cannabis in the case that it is prescribed. Instead, they only have to state that the patient has a debilitating medical condition, not that it is likely to be treated successfully by cannabis. This takes a lot of weight off of the physicians when it comes to new types of treatment like legal weed. 

Originally, under Measure 26, which was approved by voters in the 2020 election, when cannabis was legalized. The South Dakota State Medical Association opposed that wording, as it essentially forced prescribing doctors to say that cannabis would help, not just that it was an option. 

Currently, debilitating conditions approved to be treated with medical cannabis in South Dakota include: 

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

To add other conditions, there is currently an application process to see if more qualified conditions will be approved in the future. These were all approved last year in September, and through a final hearing round in October of 2021. 

So far, there seems to be a big desire for medical cannabis in South Dakota based on how well a tribal dispensary is serving its community, and the fact that the state hit over 1,000 medical cards given out. The flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe currently operates a dispensary legally on their property, which is north of Sioux Falls. Their data shows that more than 10,000 people have registered with the tribe for medical cards since July 1 of last year. The state department of health reported 1,121 patient cards as of June 13. 

It remains to be seen exactly what changes will be requested by the community during the comment period, but it’s clear that the community is hungry and ready for legal cannabis in their state after a long wait since legalization. In the meantime, the community will be getting comments together to try and build a better medical cannabis community in South Dakota. 

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New Mexico Releases Final Adult-Use Cannabis Rules

The New Mexico Cannabis Control Division (CCD) announced on December 28 that it has finalized the rules for cannabis manufacturers, retailers and couriers. The final rules were published in Issue 24 of the New Mexico Register. Hundreds of applications for licenses are currently under review. 

The rules are effective immediately, with last-minute revisions following several rounds of public comment from small business owners, CEOs and other businesspeople. 

“Every day brings us closer to the first adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico,” Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson said in a press release. “Thanks to the Cannabis Control Division’s open and transparent rule-making process over the past six months, businesses and consumers can be confident that all necessary support and protection is in place to ensure a thriving cannabis industry in our state.” 

Under the state Cannabis Regulation Act, adult sales in New Mexico are scheduled to begin by April 1, 2022. The rules that took effect Tuesday include manufacturing rules that replace emergency manufacturing rules implemented last fall, with intentions to protect workers and improve workplace safety.

The rules outline the licensing of retail stores, with new restrictions. The courier rules set guidelines for safe delivery and proper distribution of cannabis products by licensed couriers. 

According to a news release, the CCD has been accepting manufacturing and retail license applications through its online licensing system and has received more than 300 submitted applications total across all industry sectors. 

“Our dedicated team of professionals is working hard through the holidays and… every day to work with applicants to get licenses issued and businesses up and running,” Thomson said. “Standing up a thriving new industry is no small feat, and I know that our team, our system and New Mexico’s prospective licensees are up to the challenge. New Mexico will be ready for adult-use sales in 2022.”

Manufacturing Rules

Manufacturers are also prohibited from adding nicotine or caffeine to cannabis products under the final rules, but naturally-occuring caffeine is tolerated. Manufacturing licenses are divided into four classes:

  • Class I: packaging and re-packaging of already-made products
  • Class II: manufacturing of edibles or topical products from already-extracted products; can also conduct Class I activities
  • Class III: manufacturing of extracts (extracting) using mechanical methods and nonvolatile solvents; can also conduct Class I and Class II activities
  • Class IV: manufacturing of extracts (extracting) using volatile solvents or supercritical CO2; can also conduct Class I, Class II, and Class III activities

Retail Rules

Once retail sales begin on April 1, 2022, customers ages 21 and over, and people 18 and over who possess a valid qualified patient, primary caregiver or reciprocal participant registry identification card, will be allowed inside.

Retailers can take cannabis out of the packaging to display for customers, but the displayed product cannot be sold or consumed, and it must be destroyed. Retailers are also prohibited from providing free samples. Many other restrictions apply.

Courier Rules (Delivery)

The maximum retail value of products that a courier can carry is $10,000, and couriers are not allowed to carry packages for delivery for more than 24 hours. Delivery recipients will have their identity Delivery recipients must either over 21 or older, or be 18 or older as a qualified medical cannabis patient or primary caregiver, and must be pre-verified electronically before a courier delivers cannabis.

The full list of final rules can be found on the New Mexico Commission of Public Records.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department had issued a license to the first company, Mother’s Meds, to operate as a cannabis cultivator on November 1.

Deadlines were tight, but the state’s leadership pulled together. The final rules are in place four months ahead of the plan for adult-use cannabis sales. Under the Cannabis Regulation Act, which was passed earlier this year, cannabis industry rules need to be in place by January 1, 2022, and adult-use cannabis sales will start by April 1, 2022. 

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The New Year will Bring Harsher Cannabis Rules to Colorado

When the calendar flips to 2022 in a little more than a month, patients in Colorado will face more stringent rules for acquiring medical cannabis.

In an announcement spanning nearly 500 pages that was handed down last Tuesday, the state’s Department of Revenue outlined new rules and restrictions that came after “several months of deliberation over how to execute a new state law meant largely to limit young people’s access to and abuse of high-potency THC products,” according to the Denver Post.

The newspaper reported that Mark Ferrandino, executive director of the state’s Department of Revenue and a former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, had “final say” on the new rules, but that he “received heavy input from state marijuana enforcement officials and a task force that included parents, health professionals and marijuana industry representatives.” The task force was the byproduct of legislation passed and signed into law earlier this year.

So, what are some of these changes for Colorado’s medical marijuana law? 

Perhaps the most notable deals with the amount patients can purchase. Under the new rules, the state “will limit the daily purchase to two ounces of flower and eight grams of concentrate such as wax and shatter for medical marijuana patients,” per the Denver Post, with the limit dropping to two grams per day for patients aged 18-20. 

There are, however, exceptions, though they apply “only to a patient whose doctor affirms in writing that the patient has a physical or geographic hardship that should allow them to exceed the daily purchase limits, and that the patient has designated a store as the primary place they get their medicine,” according to the newspaper.

Colorado Rules Have Been a Long Time Coming

The new rules also require dispensaries to provide an educational pamphlet to customers buying concentrates, while prohibiting the retailers from marketing to would-be customers younger than 21.

Colorado lawmakers took the first steps toward imposing limits on cannabis concentrates in June, when they passed a bill that was then signed into law by Democratic Governor Jared Polis.

The legislation, which created the task force that helped formally produce the new rules announced last week, was pushed by Democrats in the state House of Representatives. 

One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic state House Representative Yadira Caraveo, who is also a pediatrician, said that the measure is designed to ensure that young people do not “get their hands on an incredible amount of products and very concentrated products that they can then give or sell to people their age or younger who don’t yet have access to legal market because they’re not 21.”

Another supporter of the bill, House Speaker Alec Garnett, pointed to a loophole in the state’s tracking system through which people, namely young people, were exceeding their daily limits.

“This bill will close that loophole,” Garnett said at a signing ceremony for the bill. “This bill will make sure that we aren’t creating a gray market on our high school campuses and that our high school kids, their developing brains aren’t flooded with the most high-potency products when they don’t need them.

“The reality is that it’s too easy for Colorado’s youth to access high-potency marijuana when they shouldn’t be able to, and we don’t have the full picture of how these products impact the developing brain,” he continued. “This law will help educate consumers about high-potency cannabis, and it will advance critical research that will give us a better understanding of how high-potency products impact developing brains.”

Not everyone is on board with the changes, however. NORML objected to “several explicit provisions included in House Bill 1317,” saying that the bill “places additional and unreasonable hurdles for those patients ages 18 to 20 who are now eligible to receive medical cannabis authorizations.”

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New Mexico Approves Cannabis Rules and Prepares for Legalization

New Mexico officials have announced the arrival of cannabis producer rules, and they plan to allow interested producers to begin their applications for licenses sometime this week.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department announced on Facebook on August 24 that rules regarding cannabis producers have been finalized and are effective today, and that the agency will begin to accept applications sometime this week. 

“Producer Rules Effective Today! The rules that take effect today cover the licensing of cannabis producers—the people and businesses that grow and harvest cannabis,” the post read. “The rules include plant count limits, which are required by the Cannabis Regulation Act, as well as licensing fees. The Cannabis Control Division will start accepting license applications through its streamlined online system later this week. The CCD has 90 days to approve or deny an application once a completed application is received.”

This is the first round of rules released to the public. Eventually, more will follow with details about retailers and testing facilities, among other important topics. These rules will need to be finalized by January 2022.

“We are ready for business,” said New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent Linda Trujillo about the announcement. “The Cannabis Control Division is committed to supporting licensees to maximize the economic opportunities that adult-use cannabis sales offer our state.”

The rules were published on the New Mexico Commission of Public Records website in four different sections: General Provisions, Licensing and Operational Requirements for Cannabis Establishments, Cannabis Plant Limits and Process to Address Shortage of Cannabis Supply in the Medical Cannabis Program and Fees.

One point of concern has been rules regarding allowances for large-scale cannabis cultivators. Following two public hearings, the final rule text states that cultivators may grow between 6,000 and 8,000 mature plants (or up to 10,000 if they have special approval from the state). There are varying levels of farm sizes ranging from Level 1 (201-1,000 plants), Level 2 (1,001-3,000 plants), Level 3 (3,001-6,000 plants) and the final tier, which includes the information above. Originally, the Cannabis Control Division set plant caps at 4,500 per producer.

The rules also address the growing concern of shortage of medical cannabis. “Upon the division allowing commercial cannabis retail sales, cannabis retail establishments shall make reasonable efforts to sell a minimum of 25 percent of their monthly cannabis sales to qualified patients, primary caregivers and reciprocal participants, or to other licensed cannabis retail establishments that meet or exceed the 25 percent sales to qualified patients, primary caregivers and reciprocal participants until December 31, 2022,” the rules state. The rules also detail a plan for addressing further shortages if they persist through December 2022.

Finally, a section dedicated to social equity efforts states that a plan will be created no later than October 15, 2021, and will include numerous guidelines regarding disproportionately affected communities, individual assessments and any incentives for social equity applicants.

New Mexico is the 17th state to legalize recreational cannabis, which was made official when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation in April 2021. The law, which took effect on June 29, legalizes possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and allows residents to cultivate up to six mature plants for personal use. Recreational cannabis sales are expected to launch by April 2022, although it is possible that they could start sooner than April if the rules are well received and not challenged in court.

In addition to the rule announcement, a recent court ruling established that the Department of Health and the Regulation and Licensing Department cannot enforce purchase limits for medical cannabis or take away rights of medical cannabis patients that they receive under state law, effectively increasing the amount of medical cannabis that can be purchased by patients.

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