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We Gotta Take the Power Back

The Killer Whale on the Frontlines with State Questions 818 and 819

by Jessi Lane
Patient Advocate

Are you ready for the rec, retroactivity, abolishment, and rebirth that is about to be the Oklahoma Cannabis Medical and Right To Use Acts? If ever we needed a call to arms, this is it. Zack De La Rocha said it best, “We need a movement with a quickness. You are the witness of change. And to counteract- we gotta take the power back!”

State Questions 818 and 819 have the industry a buzz. Oklahomans are tired of this “shot-gun approach to chop up our medical program” says Brandon Rust, and they are moving to take the power back. State Question 818, also known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Act, protects the Oklahoma medical program and “makes it part of the state constitution, not a health code as it is now,” Rust says. This progressive grassroots stride for change and reclamation of power for and to the people can be attributed to the tireless efforts of the Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action or ORCA.

Founded by Jed Green, Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action is a 501(c)4 not for profit incorporation. According to their website, ORCA’s “task is to establish the organization and structure with the intent of stepping back into ancillary support roles as the organization grows and a long-term structure developed based on interest and support from the cannabis community and industry.”
But SQ818 isn’t just about cementing in the rights and privileges of licensed cannabis as medicine patients. Oh no. Leaving no stone unturned, ORCA developed a hefty fourteen sections that make up 818, with the goal of permanently establishing an unbreakable constitutional amendment and medical program Oklahomans deserve. Beginning with the disbanding and break down of the OMMA and the creation of a new state agency called the Oklahoma State Cannabis Coalition (OSCC).

OSCC would be comprised of a twenty-member board including a representative from the Oklahoma Department of Health, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the Fire Marshall, and the office of the Attorney General. They would share this panel with licensee representatives for subgroups like Growers and Dispensaries, Patients and Caregivers, and many more. The coalition would be led by a Governor-appointed Commissioner who, additionally, must be approved by two thirds majority of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

OSCC would assume authority over cannabis and hemp, plant-based medicines, and the products and services therein. 818 would also hold OMMA accountable for potential misspending of funds that may be found via an audit and require the funds paid in a structured, timely manner to an established OSCC General Fund- also named and included in the sections therein.

All funds collected and spent by the OMMA, OSDH, and the Oklahoma State Tax Commission from June 26, 2018 to the date of passage would have to undergo an audit, report, and accounting of, and be publicly provided by, the State Auditor within a specified timely manner. Any funds found by the Auditor to not have been spent in a lawful manner would be returned to the OSCC General Fund by the agency which expended the funds. However, if said agency is unable to transfer within 30 days, the transfer would come from the Oklahoma General Fund.

Speaking to Oklahoma cannabis business owners Rust says, “If you want to get rid of METRC this is the only way. The contract is with OMMA.” If Oklahoma votes to disband the OMMA through State Question 818, the contracts made with said agency would also cease to exist. The goal is to keep Oklahoma cannabis money in Oklahoma not Lakewood, Florida, the location of METRC’s headquarters. Under SQ818, OSCC would be tasked with the creation of a new tracking system that is “no more restrictive or burdensome than federal guidelines for hemp harvest batches”, according to ORCA.

Currently Oklahoma cannabis business owners are excluded from state tax write offs. 818 would allow for state tax deductions and exemptions for licensed cannabis businesses. It also provides and regulates tax credits for hemp businesses and separates hemp from cannabis excise taxation. According to ok.gov, over three million dollars in state taxes has been generated by medical cannabis sales. In the taxation section of SQ818, 7% excise tax would be collected on cannabis sales at the point of sale. Should we go rec, this percentage may increase up to 15% on non medical purchases. A portion of the excise tax would go into a Research Fund, another portion into a Rural Impact and Urban Waste Remediation Program Fund, and another to the Dept of Ag to provide mitigation support efforts and insurance related to crop damage caused to our agricultural non industry neighbors by accidental overspray. There are portions of the collected taxes allotted for emergency mental health response programs, to fund addiction recovery programs, and to support mental health crisis training for law enforcement.

SQ818 outlines patient and caregiver rights including parental rights, offering protection from state agencies like DHS. It protects those patients seeking housing, healthcare, employment, or public assistance and those wanting to own firearms from denial due to licensing. It defines the limitations and annual fees of commercial, patient, and caregiver licensing. For example, the newly drafted Marijuana Handling License requires dispensary employees to undergo a minimum of two hours of cannabis related education every two years. Just knowing what’s fire won’t be enough product knowledge for a budtender under 818. An education license would provide license holders with the opportunity to apply for grants to develop cannabis materials and curriculum.

Due Process and Equal Protection Rights would protect persons under state supervision from penalization based on cannabis consumption as it is outlined in SQ818. Furthermore, cannabis can not be used as reasonable cause for search, seizure, or arrest nor can the cannabis itself be seized. 818 also states that the existence of THC alone in one’s system does not assume a position of impairment while operating a motor vehicle.

SQ 819, the Oklahoma Marijuana Regulation and Right to Use Act sets out to legalize cannabis for anyone 21 years of age or older and structures the regulation therein. It allows for existing medical dispensaries to also function as recreational dispensaries without any additional licensing. Like SQ818, there is consumer General Protection Language specific to housing, healthcare, employment, etcetera. Parental rights and firearm ownership rights would be protected for 21 and up recreational consumers as well. Due Process and Equal Protection Rights are covered in 819. Most notably, the Retroactivity section of 819 states that those with cannabis related convictions may file a petition for resentencing, modification, reversal, or dismissal of their sentence.

Under 819, tax rates are built to reduce over time for medical cannabis patients. The excise tax is also divvied up in 819. Portions would go to DHS for the benefit of persons with developmental and physical disabilities, the OK Water Resources Board, to agencies with the end goal of increasing access to evidence-based low-barrier drug addiction treatment as well as job support, housing, and counseling for people living with substance use disorders. A portion would fund mental health and addiction services grants and law enforcement mental health crisis training, like 818. The Research Fund, Rural Impact and Urban Waste Remediation Program Fund, and the Dept of Ag are all allotted a percentage of this excise tax.

Brandon reminds us that all these rights and privileges could be provided to us in the following months if we collectively sign the petition -95,000 signatures will be required within 90 days- and vote Yes on the November ballot. If you’d like to get involved with ORCA to best ensure positive Oklahoma cannabis industry change for the people, fill out their volunteer form at https://orcaok.com/volunteer-sign-up/

 

 FREE ENTERPRISE REIGNS IN OKLAHOMA’S MMJ SYSTEM! 

 FREE ENTERPRISE REIGNS IN OKLAHOMA’S MMJ SYSTEM! 

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer1 

1 Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article. 

In the final days of 2021, a liberal newspaper on the East Coast published an offensive piece about Oklahoma and its medical marijuana system. Of course, anything one reads today in The New York Times (“NYT”) should be taken with a grain of salt, but this particular article, How Oklahoma Became a Marijuana Boom State by Simon Romero with photos credited to Brett Deering, published December 29, 2021, is especially offensive, even for that periodical. As a third generation Oklahoma attorney, I take such insulting words about my home state personally. 

The article epitomizes rubbish spewed by those who consider themselves the elite, the refined, the educated, and the holier-than-thou liberals who look down their proverbial noses at “poor”, uneducated, “trailer park” Oklahomans. Yes, the writer of the article has the audacity to use those words. The very reduction of such beliefs to words frankly flies all over this author. Clearly, Romero and his cohorts at the NYT know nothing of Oklahoma, of its hard-working people, many of whom are in fact better educated than they—whether it be through state or Ivy League institutions or the difficult, enduring lessons learned through living life itself. Indeed, many Oklahomans elected to return home after forays into other states upon the realization that Oklahoma is, in fact, an incredible place to live and work, enhanced by none other than its people.

A good lesson to learn from Oklahoma is that one’s value is not calculated by net worth, institutional degrees, or the landscape where one lives. 

The above-referenced article in the NYT, not unlike most of that paper’s content these days, is riddled with pejorative words and phrases, including those quoted above and, additionally, “old chicken coops”, “trailer parks”, “Pentecostal church” (not that a Pentecostal church is negative, but the NYT writer clearly intends that it be construed as such), “mobile homes”, “culture shock”, and unsupported claims that Oklahoma is “a state that remains among the poorest in the country” with “pressures on the state’s prisons”. These statements are not only appalling, but also are indicative of prevalent, misguided views that divide this nation—and here, I speak of America, not the Sooner Nation. 

In light of such rubbish clearly intended to depict Oklahoma and its hard-working people, including those in the medical marijuana industry (public and private), in a derogatory manner, it is important to take an unbiased assessment of Oklahoma’s outstanding medical marijuana (“MMJ”) system. What better time to do so than on the last day of calendar year 2021, the date of this writing. 

Oklahoma continues to stand alone in this country as the only free market medical program, enacted by the people and for the patients. State Question 788 (“SQ 788”) was passed on June 26, 2018, making medical marijuana legal in the state. The medical program was implemented in record time by dedicated state employees working overtime and likely underpaid, when the 

© 2021 Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish. All rights reserved. 

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (“OMMA”) launched its online application process for patients and businesses on Saturday, August 25, 2018. 

Today, three short years after SQ 788 was passed, Oklahoma’s medical program continues to thrive in the face of inevitable obstacles—some anticipated and some not. And as human nature long ago established, when someone – or something – is successful and stands out, critics load and lock. In case you are wondering, yes, this is a nod to Oklahoma’s Second Amendment Sanctuary status. 

SQ 788 established a simple medical marijuana program with reasonable license application fees allowing everyday people with entrepreneurial dreams and a passion for the healing properties of cannabis to enter Oklahoma’s industry and thrive. What a blessed reality! 

To reiterate, Oklahomans created something unique to the cannabis industry—namely, the country’s only free market medical marijuana program. There are no qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients here, and, in addition to the original adult patient, minor patient, and caregiver licenses, today short-term licenses, reciprocal patient cards, and temporary patient licenses are available. 

Mercifully, OMMA and Oklahoma’s Legislature have upheld the spirit of SQ 788 for the most part, refusing to smother the fledgling industry with over-regulation. OMMA officials demonstrated a remarkable ability to implement Oklahoma’s medical program in record time—a mere 30 days after passage of SQ 788 in late June 2018, to the first day of applications in late August 2018. Initially, OMMA had only 14 days to accept or reject any license application. It is difficult to comprehend what the working environment must have looked like during those early days. While the 14-day period for patient licenses remains unchanged, today the period within which OMMA can grant, deny, or reject a commercial business license application (“denials” differ from “rejections”, the latter of which can be rectified through resubmissions) is 90 days—a much more reasonable time period for such a process. 

Looking back, it is difficult to imagine how OMMA onboarded the entire application process in a mere 30 days and managed to process the plethora of patient, caregiver, and commercial business license applications in 14 days. OMMA’s dedicated state employees somehow managed to make it work, to the great benefit of Oklahoma patients and entrepreneurs. OMMA is “the little engine that could,” in a state where the wind still comes sweeping down the plain and the waving wheat, with some weed now from outdoor grows, can sure smell sweet. 

Today, it is interesting to reflect on how Oklahoma’s medical program has evolved and to contemplate what the future holds. It has been said that Oklahoma basically has an adult use system, given that there are no preexisting condition requirements and that doctors who will write potential patients a medical marijuana recommendation are plentiful. Perhaps this observation is correct. However, there are limits on how much medical marijuana a patient can possess, and patient licenses are required to legally purchase and consume medical marijuana products here. 

The NYT article correctly notes the plethora of medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma, and that prices have decreased due to increased supply. However, here in Oklahoma we respect and 

© 2021 Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish. All rights reserved. 

encourage free enterprise and capitalism. The law of supply and demand is a fundamental tenet of both, and while some may choose to ignore those principles, we here in Oklahoma applaud and support them. After all, they have formed the backbone of America’s economy since its inception. 

While the NYT piece opines that “growers in Oklahoma . . . are feeding illicit markets around the country” – an assertion made with no objective criteria or documentation whatsoever, as is customary for that paper now, it is no secret that efforts by OMMA, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics have intensified to ensure this does not occur. Additionally, the scale of any Oklahoma illicit grows would assuredly pale in comparison with other states that boast more mature markets where production of illicit product has been the norm for decades, and here, we have a statute that actually prohibits ownership of agricultural land by foreign nationals. Hmmm…. 

So, what’s the take-away? 

Free enterprise still reigns in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana system, and when it draws fire from a liberal paper back East, that is a sure sign something is incredibly successful! 

P.S. 

It’s going to be a very busy spring here in the Wild, Wild West!I 

It’s Time to Heal: Urge President Biden to Grant “Federal Cannabis Clemency”

A LAST PRISONER PROJECT INITIATIVE

https://www.lastprisonerproject.org/

A TIME TO HEAL

Imagine sitting in a cell for years, decades, or even for life, incarcerated for doing the same thing that’s simultaneously netting others millions of dollars.

This is the sad reality for the tens of thousands of people, disproportionately people of color, languishing behind bars due to federal marijuana prohibition.

It’s time to turn words into action. To heal the nation, President Biden must grant clemency to the tens of thousands with federal cannabis convictions.

The Clemency Power.

Article II of the U.S Constitution gives American presidents the unilateral authority to grant clemency, or “reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.”

The Framers conceived of the clemency power (an umbrella term that includes pardons, commutations, and amnesties) as a mechanism for correcting the inevitable injustices and systemic shortcomings of America’s legal system.

To that end, this absolute power gives the President the (all-too-often squandered) opportunity to dispense “the mercy of government” in cases where the justice system has failed to deliver a morally and publicly acceptable result.

The Details.

While a true dismantling of systemic racism and ‘criminal injustice’ will demand action outside of pardons and commutations, we can think of few things more viscerally unjust than the plight of the thousands of people currently incarcerated in federal prisons for nonviolent cannabis violations.

After all, these “cannabis prisoners” (who unsurprisingly, are disproportionately people of color) remain behind bars for years, decades, or even for life, for doing the exact same thing that has given birth to a $17.9 billion dollar industry.

 

THREE CHANGES IN THE WORKS FOR OMMA LICENSED BUSINESSES 

THREE CHANGES IN THE WORKS FOR OMMA LICENSED BUSINESSES 

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Cannabis Lawyer

The past several months have seen numerous changes to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana system, including new OMMA Permanent Rules; Amendments to OMMA Permanent Rules by September 16, 2021 Emergency Rules; passage of new bills by the state legislature such as HB 2272, HB 3228, HB 2646, and SB 1033 among those impacting medical marijuana and signed into law by Governor Stitt, with varying effective dates; and litigation over OMMA’s selection of METRC for seed-to-sale tracking. 

This writing will discuss three important changes among the plethora of developments, of which all OMMA business licensees should be aware: 

1) implementation of OMMA on-site inspections to confirm all licensees are in fact operating and doing business; 

2) removal of the 2-year Oklahoma residency requirement for transporter agents; and 

3) allowing OMMA-licensed dispensaries and growers to package and sell medical marijuana as pre-rolls. 

1. OMMA’s OPERATIONAL STATUS VISIT 

Under OMMA’s Permanent Rules as Amended by the Emergency Rules, OMMA has implemented an “initial operational status visit” for all growers, processors, and dispensaries, effective September 1, 2021. Pursuant to this new provision, OMMA will be scheduling on-site visits at licensed growers, processors, and dispensaries to verify whether the licensee is “actively operating” or is “working towards becoming operational.” (See Title 310, Oklahoma State Department of Health Regulations, Chapter 681-5-4.1.) These visits shall occur within the first 180 days after a new licensee receives their OMMA license. 

If the licensee fails to provide proof that they are “actively operating or working towards operational status”, then OMMA will grant the licensee a grace period of an additional 180 days from the date of OMMA’s initial operational status visit, within which to become operational. Follow-up visits will occur and, in the event the required proof is not provided upon the second visit, then OMMA may grant a discretionary, additional 180 days to the licensee, to become operational. However, the grace period shall not extend beyond the one-year license term. If compliance is not established and/or OMMA elects not to grant an additional grace period, then OMMA will seek revocation of the commercial business license. 

2. REMOVAL OF THE CURRENT 2-YEAR OKLAHOMA RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR TRANSPORTER AGENTS. 

OMMA’s Permanent Rules as Amended by the Emergency Rules remove “transporter agent” from the definition of a “commercial license” but still require that all transporter agents provide proof of 2-year Oklahoma residency. On November 1, 2021, this will change. House Bill 2646, which becomes effective on that date, clarifies the residency requirement to require that transporter agent applicants provide only proof of current Oklahoma residency, as opposed to the 

2-year Oklahoma residency requirement applicable to 75% of the ownership of medical marijuana commercial business licensees. 

3. DISPENSARIES AND GROWERS CAN PACKAGE AND SELL PRE-ROLLS. 

House Bill 2646, which becomes effective November 1, 2021, authorizes OMMA licensed dispensaries and growers to package and sell medical marijuana as pre-rolls, thus eliminating any confusion about whether they can do so. 

What’s the take-away? 

While there are many changes coming to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana system in the coming days, it remains the Wild, Wild West. 

Stay alert. 

Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article. 

DO OMMA’S NEW EMERGENCY RULES IMPACT PATIENTS?

DO OMMA’S NEW EMERGENCY RULES IMPACT PATIENTS?

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Cannabis Lawyer

 

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority enacted a new set of Emergency Rules that became effective on June 28, 2021. These new Rules implement numerous changes, most of which apply to OMMA-licensed commercial medical marijuana businesses. However, some of the Rules also impact patients, as discussed below.

 

  1. The new Rules prohibit caregivers from charging patients for cultivating medical marijuana “in excess of actual costs incurred in cultivating the medical marijuana.” OAC 310:681-2-3.
  2. The new Rules amend the definition of “marijuana” to exclude Delta 8 and Delta 10 hemp products, which allows individuals to purchase such products without an OMMA-issued medical marijuana patient license. Hemp is grown under the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Program administered through the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, not OMMA, and it is legal federally, unlike marijuana—whether medical or adult usage.

 

Other provisions of the new Rules of interest to patients in particular, while not new to the June 28, 2021, version, include the following:

 

  1. A physician can recommend a patient for a short-term medical marijuana license lasting only sixty (60) days, instead of the standard, two-year patient license term.
  2. Out-of-state patients with unexpired out-of-state medical marijuana patient licenses may apply for a temporary patient license that is valid for a term of thirty (30) days from the date of issuance; provided, the temporary patient license for non-residents “may not extend beyond the expiration date of the underlying out-of-state medical marijuana patient license.” OAC 310:681-2-5(e).
  3. Patients whose licenses have been terminated on the basis that the recommending physician has determined the patient no longer meets the requirements for the license are entitled to notice and a right to hearing, as mandated not only by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, 63 O.S. § 427.1, et seq., but also by the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act, 75 O.S. § 250, et seq.
  4. Patients shall not sell or otherwise transfer any medical marijuana or medical marijuana products to another individual or entity. First offenses may result in a $200.00 fine, and second offenses carry a $500.00 fine and revocation of the patient’s license if it is shown that the violation was willful or grossly negligent. The same applies to licensed caregivers, who may not sell or otherwise transfer any medical marijuana to any individual other than the licensed patient on whose behalf the caregiver is licensed to grow, possess, or purchase the medical marijuana.
  5. Patients and caregivers may only grow medical marijuana on real property owned by the patient or on real property for which the patient has the property owner’s written permission to grow. Patient grows shall not be accessible to the general public, and shall not be visible from any street adjacent to the property. The Rules define “visible” as “viewable by a normal person with 20/20 eyesight without the use of any device to assist in improving viewing distance or vantage point.” 310:681-2-9 (c).
  6. Patients and caregivers are prohibited from operating or otherwise using “any extraction equipment or processes utilizing butane, propane, carbon dioxide or any potentially hazardous material in or on residential property.” 310:681-2-9 (f).
  7. Patients smoking any smokable, vaporized, vapable and e-cigarette medical marijuana and/or products are “subject to the same restrictions for tobacco” as set out in the “Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act”, codified at Title 63 O.S. § 1-1521, et seq.

 

So…what’s the take-away?

 

Patients must be mindful of OMMA’s most current Rules, as they apply not only to OMMA commercial business licenses but also to licensed medical marijuana patients.

 

Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

 

 

BRAVO, JUSTICE THOMAS

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Cannabis Lawyer

 

If you are in the cannabis industry, you have a very powerful friend, a man who sits on the United States Supreme Court. The dissenting Statement respecting the denial of certiorari handed down on Monday, June 28, 2021, by United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the Court’s most conservative justices, proves he is a friend of the industry and even suggests that change may be in the air.

 

While numerous bills have been introduced in Congress to accomplish needed changes in federal marijuana policies (I previously have written about these), when a U.S. Supreme Court Justice basically opines that federal marijuana policies have become nonsensical, one must wonder whether the courts will implement change if Congress fails to muster the courage to do so.

Standing Akimbo, LLC, et al. v. United States

The case in which Justice Thomas issued his Statement arrived at the Supreme Court on appeal from the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Standing Akimbo, LLC, et al. v. United States, No. 19-1049 (10th Cir. 2020). Notably, Oklahoma is one of the states under the jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit.

 

This particular Tenth Circuit appeal arose out of a lower federal court (trial court) opinion issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, granting the government’s motion to dismiss a petition filed by Standing Akimbo, LLC, a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary, to quash certain summons the IRS had issued to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division to confirm the dispensary owners’ tax liabilities under a civil audit of their federal tax returns.

 

The IRS had issued several summons in an attempt to uncover evidence that Standing Akimbo had claimed business deductions prohibited by § 280E of the IRS Code, and the dispensary asked the Court to quash (prohibit) the issuance of those summons. The Tenth Circuit rejected Standing Akimbo’s position and affirmed the trial court’s opinion allowing the various summons to be issued. Subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Standing Akimbo’s petition for a writ of certiorari in Standing Akimbo, LLC, et al. v. United States, No. 20-645 (decided June 28, 2021), 594 U.S. ___ (2021).

 

Justice Thomas’s 5-page Statement respecting the denial of certiorari

read it at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-645_9p6b.pdf, provides “…federal policies [to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana] of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning. Once comprehensive, the Federal Government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana. This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary.”

 

Citing the Department of Justice’s infamous Cole Memorandum dated August 29, 2013 (read it at https://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf), wherein U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole advised federal prosecutors to refrain from

marijuana prosecutions in states where marijuana had been legalized (with eight exceptions), and a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion prohibiting expenditures on the prosecution of persons in compliance with state law (United States v. McIntosh, 833 F.3d 1163, 1168, 1175-55 [9th Cir. 2016]), Justice Thomas opined that “one can certainly understand why an ordinary person might think that the Federal Government has retreated from its once-absolute ban on marijuana[.]” (Statement at p. 3), and that “[o]ne can also perhaps understand why business owners in Colorado, like petitioners, may think that their intrastate marijuana operations will be treated like any other enterprise that is legal under state law.” Id. However, as the petitioners learned, “legality under state law and the absence of federal criminal enforcement do not ensure equal treatment.” Id.

 

Justice Thomas also noted that the “disjuncture between the Government’s recent laissez-faire policies on marijuana and the actual operation of specific laws is not limited to the tax context,” mentioning banking issues, among others, that state-legal marijuana businesses must face. Notably, Justice Thomas concluded that “[a] prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the Federal Government’s piecemeal approach [to cannabis regulation and policies].” Statement at p. 5.

NORML’s Executive Director, Erik Altieri, commented that “Justice Thomas’s comments reflect what has been obvious to the vast majority of Americans for some time now…This intellectually dishonest position [of federal marijuana prohibition] … complicates the ability of states to successfully regulate and oversee state-legal marijuana businesses … It is time for Congress to end this untenable situation by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that states can make their own decisions with regard to marijuana and marijuana commerce free from undue federal interference.”

 

 

From The Front Line

by Chip Paul

Efforts are happening behind the scenes which will soon be very public around a repetition of the State for medical marijuana. While we, perhaps, have the best national situation in our program now, it can still be better. We have had a pretty good run with lawmakers who have helped us defend and nurture the program as it has developed. Sadly, but as with most things political, coalitions falter and sometimes break down. That is what we have seen this year in the Oklahoma State Legislature. The Oklahoma Senate seems to want very little to do with the pro- gram. The House is not the bulwark it used to be and we saw some things make it to floor votes that would have been detrimental to the program. Further, we still have people in jail for simple marijuana possession charges. We still have people be- ing denied jobs, or housing, or medical care because they hold a medical marijuana card.

So what will a petition look like?

Actually there will be two petitions. One will deal with criminal justice reform, patient rights, adult use, and full decriminalization. Basically cannabis becomes like turmeric. You are free to grow it, trade it, hold it, etc. The second petition will make some needed changes to the medical program. In particular, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be moved out from the Department of Health to a stand alone board. The board will be empowered to build and maintain the regulatory and issue licensing. We will tighten up the doctor patient relationship and will require a physician to have an OMMA license and also pass a proficiency exam. We will change track and trace to congeal around laboratory testing. Batch sizes for flower will be defined as a homogeneous environment (so strain, environment). All raw flower must be tested as it is today. The lab will be responsible for inputting, by batch number, the results. These results will be available in a public database accessible to patients and other commercial businesses.

The only other test that ever would be required is if you are concentrating the flower. After concentration it will need to be tested for metals, pesticide, and residual solvents. There is no other testing that is needed. Final products should rely on the COA’s of the underlying concentrates for potency calculations, just like in the FDA regulated food industry today.

If you would like to get involved watch the OK4UApproved facebook page. Also watch something called the Oklahoma Institute for Plant Molecule Medicine which will be coming online soon. We will have numerous opportunities to help, signature gathering the most needed!

Watch for ways you can sign up and help!

Texas – Landlocked and Surrounded by Legalization

by Veronica Castillo

Texas, the second-largest state in the United States, largest city Houston, largest metro Dallas- Fort Worth, and surrounded by legal/decriminalized states on all sides- refuses to legalize cannabis for medicine.

Present day, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana are medicinally legal and/or decriminalized cannabis states. Meanwhile, Texas doesn’t want smokable hemp legal, they don’t want cannabis available for medicine in any flower form, and they still want to put people in jail for a gram of cannabis.

Recently, Marijuana Moment reported:

The latest developments that have come after a week where Texas lawmakers have considered a medley of marijuana reform measures. But arguably the most significant piece of cannabis legislation to move out of committee would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.”

Texas- what are you doing? This is asked because in the same piece referenced above, it was reported that:

Other decriminalization proposals that were under consideration by the panel this week would not prohibit that enforcement action, which is key because police are currently able to incarcerate people who are arrested for class C misdemeanors even though the charge itself does not carry the risk of jail time in sentencing.”

Texas Medical Cannabis Program

It’s weak to say the least. In Texas, medical cannabis means that cannabis products cannot contain more than .5% THC. Medical cannabis in Texas means that cancer, chronic pain, and PTSD are qualifying conditions for veterans only. The Texas medical cannabis program is so limited that decriminalization still hasn’t happened. CBD oil is the only thing safe.

Hear from Texas Residents and Refugee’s About Cannabis Legalization

Below, you’ll see and hear from three women, Texas residents and Texas refugee’s, all in support of cannabis legalization in Texas. Humans who have a desire to choose for themselves, the plants that they consume to treat their medical conditions. Humans that want the government to to release the shackles placed on a plant with a track record of success dating back to the ancient days.

Alexis Olive- Texas resident and supporter of cannabis legalization in Texas:

https://youtu.be/LiMpUMYRNj4

 

Lizzie Maldonado– Texas resident and supporter of Texas cannabis legalization:

https://youtu.be/-3l720rg5Ec 

 

Khadijah Adams– former Texas resident- relocated for access to cannabis:

https://youtu.be/yJ3Bv2mbmfU 

Final Thoughts

Cannabis will prevail! The old south mentality is being laid to rest and a new day has arrived. It makes no sense to continue to write prescriptions for opioids in Texas. In 2018, Texas medical providers wrote 47.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people. Cannabis isn’t available there to treat with, so will Texas still use the “cannabis is a gateway drug” lame and outdated excuse?

Could it be that cannabis is the plant that sustains their prison system? Prison Policy reports that:

Texas has an incarceration rate of 891 per 100,000 people; it locks up a higher percentage of its people than many wealthy democracies do.”

Texas- the time for legalization has come!

Harborside Decision

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Harborside was brilliantly briefed and argued before the Tax Court by my International Cannabis Bar Association colleague, Henry Wykowski, an exceptionally talented cannabis attorney headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2021 Legislation Still in Play, by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

If you are in the cannabis industry in Oklahoma or, for that matter, anywhere in the United States, you likely have heard of 280-E and the infamous 2018 Harborside decision of the U.S. Tax Court. If not, you need to know about both, along with a new decision filed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on April 22, 2021, upholding the Tax Court’s Harborside decision.

What is the Harborside Decision?

In Patients Mutual Assistance Collective Corporation d.b.a. Harborside Health Center v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 151 T.C. No. 11 (November 29, 2018) 2, the Tax Court determined Harborside, a well-known dispensary and brand based in Oakland, California that was co-founded by cannabis legend Steve DeAngelo, owed approximately $11 million in back taxes because it took business deductions and exclusions “in connection with the sale of a federally illegal substance.”

Harborside appealed the decision in Patients Mutual Assistance Collective Corporation, d.b.a. Harborside Health Center v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 19-73078, filed April 22, 2021. On appeal, the issue considered by the Ninth Circuit was whether Harborside, a dispensary that purchases and resells marijuana and uses the cost method to value its inventory, must account for its inventory cost in accord with Section 1.471-3(b) of the Treasury Regulations.

While the issue sounds complicated, the impact on OMMA licensees is simple: for purposes of federal income tax, the only deduction available in calculating gross income is the cost of purchasing or producing the goods being sold (“cost of goods sold” or “COGS”). No standard business deductions are available to cannabis businesses in our country.

What is Section 280E and Who Cares?

A provision in the Internal Revenue Code known as Section 280E prohibits cannabis companies from claiming deductions and exclusions available to every other business in the country. Section 280E was enacted in 1982 after a U.S. Tax Court decision allowed a drug dealer to deduct expenses associated with his illegal business activities and provides:

No deduction or credit shall be allowed for any amount paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within 2 the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by federal law or the law of any state in which such trade or business is conducted.

Since marijuana remains a Schedule I illegal substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), then OMMA licensees doing business within Oklahoma’s medical marijuana system are considered to be “trafficking in controlled substances” under the CSA and, as such, are not allowed any deduction or income tax credit for amounts paid or incurred in the course of their business activities.

To simplify how this impacts Oklahoma cannabis businesses, it means that the only deduction available in calculating gross income for purposes of federal income tax is the cost of purchasing or producing the goods being sold by that business (COGS). This would include, for example, the wholesale price of medical marijuana a dispensary owner pays to a grower or processor, or the cost a grower incurs from actually growing medical marijuana. It does not include expenses such as wages or rent.

In practice, Oklahoma medical marijuana companies (and cannabis businesses across the United States) often pay a tax rate of 80% to 90% to the IRS, unlike other businesses. Even if an OMMA licensee has a net loss on its books, the company will still incur significant federal tax liability.

So…what’s the take-away?

The Harborside decision, along with the IRS’s admission it has been training agents for at least eight years “in the finer details of auditing marijuana companies, using PowerPoint presentations that outline everything from legal precedents to questions that should be asked during interviews with business owners” should send you running to your cannabis CPA—which, by the way, is a must-have member of your team.

Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

 

Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Program – 2021 Legislation Still In Play

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish | Cannabis Lawyer

Earlier this year I provided an introduction to some of the more substantive bills filed in the Oklahoma House and Senate pertaining to Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Program. What follows are highlights concerning the more important bills that now have been passed by the legislative body in which they originated, and have been referred to legislative committees in the other, non-originating legislative body.

HOUSE BILLS PASSED AND SENT TO SENATE

Highlights of the provisions included in several bills passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, sent to the Senate and referred to a Senate Committee, include, but are not limited to the following.

House Bill 2272

House Bill 2272 creates the Cap on Medical Marijuana Businesses Act of 2021. It passed the House on March 10, 2021, and has been sent to the Senate, where it passed in the Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee and is now under consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

A METRC Primer, by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Notably, this bill provides for a two-year cap on OMMA dispensary, processor, and commercial grower licenses beginning September 1, 2021, and ending September 1, 2023. The bill caps those licenses “at the total number of licenses active in each category as of September 1, 2021, combined with the total number of applications pending in each category with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority which were submitted prior to September 1, 2021. In order to determine the final amount of authorized medical marijuana dispensary licenses, medical marijuana processor licenses and medical marijuana commercial grower licenses in this state, the Authority shall first process all pending applications for each license category received prior to September 1, 2021, and add that number to the total number of active licenses in each category as of September 1, 2021.”

This bill also allows for submission of a commercial business license application without a Certificate of Compliance (“CoC”), giving each applicant one hundred eighty days from the date of a provisional license approval (available without the CoC) to submit the required CoC to OMMA.

The bill calls for an automatic reduction in the number of dispensary licenses, such reduction to be based on the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses surrendered, canceled or otherwise terminated, until such time as the total number of active medical marijuana dispensary licenses is equal in number to two thousand, beginning September 1, 2021, and ending September 1, 2023.

House Bill 2646

House Bill 2646 clarifies the duties of OMMA. It was sent to the Senate on March 15, where it has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee after passing in the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee.

House Bill 2004

House Bill 2004 concerns licensing, taxes, and also clarifies OMMA’s duties and functions. It passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Notably, this bill allows patients with medical marijuana licenses to legally possess twelve mature plants instead of the current cap of six mature plants. It also provides for a temporary patient license for residents of other states, and seals all patient and caregiver records and information to protect privacy, specifically providing that “such records shall not be shared with any other state agency or political subdivision without a warrant”.

House Bill 2674

House Bill 2674 would transfer the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission. This bill passed the House and was referred to the Senate, where it has been assigned to the Public Safety Committee and then to the Appropriations Committee. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, it would mandate significant changes to Oklahoma’s existing medical marijuana system.

SENATE BILLS PASSED AND SENT TO HOUSE

Highlights of the provisions included in several Oklahoma Senate bills that have been passed and referred to the state House of Representatives include the following.

Senate Bill 459

Senate Bill 459 addresses workplace drug and alcohol procedures and modifies safety-sensitive positions, including additional rights of medical marijuana patients. The bill also modifies definitions of “batch number”, “cannabinoid”, “clone”, “caregiver” and “child-resistant” packaging (among others). It also adds “volunteers” to the classification of individuals who serve in safety-sensitive positions and may be subject to a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy. The bill was referred to the House Business and Commerce Committee on March 22, 2021.

Senate Bill 1033

Senate Bill 1033 amends language contained in State Question 788 to protect medical marijuana license holders from discrimination under certain circumstances by schools, landlords, and employers.

Significantly, this bill also prohibits municipalities from unduly changing or restricting zoning laws to prevent the opening of dispensaries. The bill grandfathers-in certain licensed locations, clarifies how to measure the 1000-foot setback distance required for dispensaries from any public or private school entrance, and allows license transfers under certain conditions. It has been assigned to the House Alcohol, Tobacco, and Controlled Substances Committee.

Senate Bill 522

Senate Bill 522 requires the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to contract with one or more third-party vendors to provide certain licensing services for medical marijuana education facility licensees, medical marijuana business licensees and employees of such entities. This bill passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Alcohol, Tobacco, and Controlled Substances Committee.

So…what’s the take-away? Stay tuned!

There may be some significant changes in Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana System by May 2021!
Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

Found Myself in Texas

by Brittiany Ralls

Visiting family and friends in Texas quickly reminds me of the days of the past. At least for a lot of the country at this point. Texas is still one of the few states that does not have a cannabis program in place that allows for a majority of their citizens to access their medicinal cannabis. The Texas program is limited to an extreme and is denying many of its citizens the medical option they need in place of the pain management facilities that are the current option. Many of which are just fueling the war on drugs that has clearly been lost. So many people are still relying on this as an only option, leaving many using substances that are detrimental to their long-term health and no end in sight with the current climate of regulation. There are hopes of new regulations coming that could change cannabis laws. In Texas, there is always hope. But, never quite the reform that is necessary.

Texas Again, by Brittiany Ralls

We as humans all have an endocannabinoid system that is directly affected by the cannabinoids we take in just like any other vitamin or nutrient-rich substance necessary for the sustainment of life. Especially a happy one. Yet there are children, elderly, disabled, shit every human in a way has had to suffer without the correct cannabinoids to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Science is completely disregarded as if it isn’t a part of this that matters. When in reality our doctors haven’t even been taught about a system that does exist within our bodies. So how would they even begin to know how to practice with a medicine and bodily system they know nothing about. They can’t in good conscience tell you anything about the endocannabinoid system, they never even learned about it. Since cannabis is an illegal substance that somehow decided that the system within our bodies no longer existed also?! I didn’t realize that’s how science worked. This is why we need access to information that we can rely on as patients. With the current climate, we can’t even go to our doctors to get information that we know we can rely on. That is why utilizing resources like Herbage Magazine is so vital. Writers, like me, want the real information. We want to give you the information you can count on, the information you know is helpful.

Which is what our goal will be, impacting the Texas community by educating and stimulating the community through volunteering. Showing the citizens of Texas, who are hesitant about cannabis, that we are wanting to be a part of society and impact it in a good way. That we are more than willing to prove our intentions through action within our communities by providing the bridge needed for the path necessary for growth as humans, and righting the many wrongs done by the war on drugs. By showing who we are, what we support, and being honest about our needs, we can make changes to the current medical cannabis program. With the help of those in support we need everyone we can get to make the changes we want to see for those that we care about and the life we know we are deserving of. Which includes access to cannabis as a medicine for as many Texans as possible. Who’s ready for this wild ride? I know I am!

Brittiany Ralls | Consultant

brittiany.adilas@gmail.com

936.239.6257

 

From the Front Lines

by Chip Paul | Gnupharma/OK4U

What is up with the OMMA?  Has your commercial cannabis business been inspected?  Did you know every other license the OMMA issues, you MUST be inspected BEFORE you are awarded your license?  A marijuana commercial business license is the only Oklahoma State Department of Health issued license you can get WITH ABSOLUTELY NO INSPECTION.  Does anyone else find this odd?

Further, with the lack of physician education on the endocannabinoid system, patients have to rely on and trust a budtender for advice about a substance they are using medically.  What training is that budtender required to have?  Yep, ZERO.

Where is the protector of patient rights and patient protections?  This should be our Oklahoma State Department of Health.  Why are they not suggesting these additional protections to lawmakers?  Hair Cutting is more tightly controlled than marijuana at the moment.  Now why would that be?

Changes In the Wind

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish | Cannabis Lawyer

Has the pandemic given Oklahoma legislators too much time to ponder what changes they would like to see in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program? Perhaps. As of January 22, 2021, they have filed a combined number of approximately 38 bills (some are only one-page titles and several are arguably redundant) relating to medical marijuana in some form or fashion.

Authors of Bills Filed

Authors in the House of Representatives filing bills relating to medical marijuana include Representatives May, (Josh) West, Roberts (Dustin), Davis, Frix, Kannady, Echols, Ford, Pfeiffer, Sneed, West (Rick), Fetgatter, Townley, and Humphrey. Authors in the Senate of bills filed that relate to medical marijuana include Dahm, Paxton, Daniels, Standridge, Rader, Bergstrom, Leewright, Montgomery, Taylor, and Hicks.

Whether some of these bills actually make it out of committee and to a floor vote in either legislative body, much less approval by both bodies and signed into law by the Governor, all remains to be seen. However, it is important to track what has been filed and each bill’s ultimate fate in the upcoming 2021 legislative session.

Highlights

The bills filed by the above-named state legislators cover a plethora of topics related to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program. Descriptions of several substantive bills filed in the state House of Representatives include the following: revenue and taxation changes (House Bill [“HB”] 1908); delivery by dispensaries to certain private residences (HB1960); referendum to Oklahoma voters for the “Oklahoma Adult Access to Marijuana Act of 2021 (HB1961); and clarification of OMMA’s duties and functions with amendments to S.Q. 788 via the “Oklahoma Marijuana Act of 2021” (HB2004).

Congress Boards the MJ Research Train, by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Descriptions of some substantive bills filed in the state Senate include the following: directing OMMA to contract with one or more third-party vendors to provide licensing services (Senate Bill [“SB] 522); criminal penalties for OMMA-licensed patients who carry or use firearms when “under the influence of medical marijuana” and additional preclusions for Oklahomans eligible for a handgun license under the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act (SB442); amending current restrictions on smoking medical marijuana in certain areas including: airport restrictions on medical marijuana use “in any area that is open to or used by the public” indoors or outdoors if within 175 feet from an entrance, same as to an “indoor workplace”, basically designating all state-owned, county or municipal-owned buildings and educational facilities as tobacco and marijuana free (SB445); modifying workplace drug and alcohol procedures and safety-sensitive positions, including additional rights of medical marijuana patients (SB459); amending definitions in the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act (“Unity Act”) concerning testing laboratory licenses, requiring testing of medical marijuana waste prior to transfer and separation of such waste into waste batches, and clarifying or revising certain definitions (SB680); permitting pharmacists to compound products containing marijuana or THC in the event marijuana becomes legal under federal law (SB696); and basically prohibiting schools and landlords from refusing to enroll or lease, respectively, to OMMA-licensed medical marijuana patients, unless doing so would cause the loss of monetary of licensing-related benefits under federal law (SB1033).

As the 2021 legislative session progresses, it will be interesting to see whether Oklahoma’s legislature chooses to avoid the traps that have snared so many other states’ medical and adult-use marijuana programs—chief among them over-regulation, over-taxation, and unduly burdensome regulatory requirements with little, if any, benefit to medical marijuana patients and state-licensed medical marijuana businesses.

So…what’s the take-away?

Once again, it’s going to be a very busy spring here in the Wild, Wild West.

Congress Boards the MJ Research Train

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

In the wake of passing the MORE Act, which I wrote about in my December 2020 column, two other Acts related to marijuana were passed by Congress at the end of 2020. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Medical Marijuana Research Act (“MMRA”) on December 9, 2020. MMRA is bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD) that addresses the burdensome impediments to legitimate medical research. Subsequently, on December 15, 2020, the U.S. Senate approved its own bipartisan bill, the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act (CMREA). The CMREA also promotes cannabis studies and addresses current impediments.

More Act by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

A 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that “research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids has been limited in the United States, leaving patients, health care professionals, and policy makers without the evidence they need to make sound decisions regarding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids.” Thus, passage by the House and Senate of MMRA and CMREA is good news moving into 2021. It appears that Congress finally recognizes the value of cannabis research, and plans to encourage studies by removing antiquated federal roadblocks. The caveat is that, in order for federal legislation to become law, it must be passed by the House and the Senate, and signed by the President. Hopefully, Congress will reach an agreement on a unified version of these two bills during the early months of 2021.

Barriers to Cannabis Research

Federal law severely limits studies concerning health benefits of cannabis. There is a burdensome registration procedure, protocol reviews are redundant in many instances, security requirements are onerous and unnecessary, especially given that approximately ninety-nine percent of Americans now live in a state where marijuana is legal in some form, and there is just a complete lack of significant research. Limitations also apply to where marijuana for research can be obtained and unfortunately, the quality of that marijuana has been poor—a recognized fact now—which has inevitably hampered accurate results of any significant research studies concerning its health benefits

Cannabis Testing by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Source Limitations for Marijuana Used in Research Since “marihuana” remains a Schedule I substance under the federal 1970 Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) regulates its cultivation for research purposes. The DEA controls registration requirements and establishes annual aggregate production quotas under the authority of the CSA. Unbelievably, the DEA has issued only one registration for research marijuana cultivation—to the University of Mississippi. Thus, only the University of Mississippi has been authorized to grow marijuana for use in research studies. Every few years, the University designates the land where marijuana crops are grown based on current and expected demand. Then, the marijuana is grown, harvested, stored, and made available in bulk or as particular elements of the plant, for use in research. The subpar quality of the University-grown marijuana renders it almost useless in conducting serious studies that might yield reliable, usable data leading researchers to significant conclusions about marijuana’s health benefits.

Additionally, studies have shown that this marijuana has lower levels of THC and CBD as compared to commercial grade cannabis products and is, in fact, genetically closer to hemp than the marijuana varieties sold at dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal. Given that marijuana and hemp are genetically distinct, reliance upon the low-grade marijuana cultivated at the University of Mississippi for research about its health benefits is problematic. Participants in studies who consume the varieties cultivated at the University may experience vastly different effects than patients and adult-use consumers that obtain their marijuana product from dispensaries, yielding unreliable results and faulty conclusions. However, efforts by the DEA to expand the number of federally authorized marijuana cultivators for research purposes are underway, and passage of the above pieces of legislation will likely ensure that higher quality marijuana becomes available for research purposes.

Medical Marijuana Research Act

The MMRA achieves four main goals. It addresses the poor quality and inadequate supply of medical-grade marijuana available for use in research; provides a clear path for researchers to study cannabis products used by patients and adult-use consumers pursuant to state-legal programs; streamlines the unduly burdensome, redundant process that researchers must navigate before obtaining a license to conduct marijuana research while guarding against misuse and abuse; and requires that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provide a report on the status and results of new research concerning the health benefits of marijuana.

The full text of the MMRA can be found here.

Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act

The CMREA, passed by the Senate, is primarily intended to streamline the application process for researchers to study marijuana and to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to develop cannabis-derived medicines. The congressional summary of the Act states that it allows “accredited medical and osteopathic schools, practitioners, research institutions, and manufacturers with a Schedule I registration” to cultivate their own cannabis for research purposes. This provision would insulate researchers from the requirement of using the poor quality marijuana cultivated at the University of Mississippi.

The Act also specifies that physicians can discuss the risks and benefits of marijuana with patients, and, in similarity to the required report under the MMRA, requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to submit a report concerning the potential health benefits of marijuana and addressing barriers to cannabis research and how best to overcome those barriers. The CMREA has been endorsed by mainstream medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The full text of the CMREA can be found here.

 

Differences in MMRA and CMREA

One major difference in the MMRA and the CMREA is that the House bill (MMRA) allows scientists to obtain marijuana from dispensaries in legal states for research purposes, whereas the CMREA allows them to cultivate their own marijuana for such purposes. Both provisions are clearly designed to circumvent current federal requirements that marijuana used for research purposes must be cultivated at the University of Mississippi. Another difference in the two pieces of legislation is the provision in the CMREA protecting physicians from penalties under the CSA, to allow discussion of risks and benefits of marijuana products with patients.

Will we see more federally-approved marijuana research projects in 2021?
Stay tuned.

Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

From the Front Lines

by Chip Paul

At this writing 2020 is coming to an end.  Perhaps the craziest year of my lifetime.  In addition to not knowing the truth about a mask, we cannot even conclude a Presidential election.  We are beginning to learn about numerous foreign influences in our politics and major institutions.  I would wager there will be accountability and justice soon.  Let’s just hope this doesn’t hit too close to home.

Our cannabis industry was thankfully and necessarily declared an “essential” business that needed to stay open even during the worst of the china flu.  Man have we come a long way since this all kicked off in 2014.

 

So what will happen with cannabis in Oklahoma in 2021?  Here are my predictions:
From the Front Lines by Chip Paul
  • – we will increase our patient count to 15% of our overall population

 

  • – the number of active and open cannabis commercial business will decrease

 

  • – an adult-use bill will be considered by the Oklahoma State Legislature

 

  • – the OMMA will greatly increase inspections

 

  • – the OMMA will partner with industry groups and trade organizations to help educate patients

 

  • – Oklahoma will continue to lead the cannabis market with new innovations

 

  • – TRUE marijuana research will begin in Oklahoma

 

  • – education will continue to be a huge issue in the gap between medicine and cannabis

 

Happy new year everyone!  Good bye and good riddance to 2020!  Let’s make 2021 a rebuilding and renewing year.

More Act

WILL THE MORE ACT LEGALIZE MARIJUANA ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

One of the questions I often am asked is whether, or when, Congress will legalize marijuana. Federal legislation has been introduced to accomplish this—either for medicinal purposes (CARERS Act of 2019) or for whatever purposes each particular state has legalized marijuana (STATES Act). The MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana and recognizes the rights of states to enact their own laws concerning it.

Significantly, the MORE Act is set for a floor vote in the United States House of Representatives the first week in December 2020, somewhere between Wednesday, December 2 and Friday, December 4, 2020. This upcoming floor vote is historic because it is the first ever Congressional roll call concerning a bill that would end federal marijuana criminalization, and by the time you read this, that vote likely will have occurred.

What is the MORE Act?

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (“MORE Act”) would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Currently marijuana, like heroin, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under that Act.

Decriminalization vs. Legalization
Cannabis Testing by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

The MORE Act would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. However, decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Decriminalization is the removal of criminal penalties, whereas legalization is the removal all penalties.

However, the MORE Act would also recognize each state’s law concerning marijuana, thereby permitting states to enact their own regulation policies so that marijuana would continue to remain illegal in some states while legal in others. If the Act passes, then those states which have legalize marijuana for medical or adult (recreational) use, including Oklahoma’s medical system, would no longer have to live under the threat of federal interference with their marijuana laws or federal prosecution for the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana.

Assistance for Victims of The War on Drugs

Notably, the MORE Act would expunge and seal previous nonviolent federal marijuana-related arrests and convictions for those not currently serving their sentences. Those currently serving sentences for federal marijuana arrests and/or convictions would have the opportunity for a review of their sentences, with the potential to have their records expunged and their sentences vacated. As such, this aspect of the MORE Act represents a welcome reprieve for those adversely impacted by the war on drugs.

Are OMMA’s Residency Requirements Unconstitutional?
by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Additional provisions include the establishment of an Office of Cannabis Justice within the Department of Justice. This Office would be responsible for administering grants to aid communities negatively affected by the war on drugs, including an “Opportunity Trust Fund” and a “Community Reinvestment Grant Program”. The Act would prohibit the denial of any federal public benefits, like housing, on the basis of marijuana use, and prohibit any adverse impact under federal immigration laws for those who use or possess marijuana. The MORE Act would also impose a five percent commercial sales tax on marijuana, the proceeds of which would be designated, at least in principle, to assist those adversely impacted by the war on drugs.

Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, stated back in August 2020, when House lawmakers were originally preparing for a September floor vote on the MORE Act, that “Passage of the MORE Act is essential in order to truly right the wrongs of federal marijuana criminalization, and to once and for all allow the majority of states that have legalized cannabis for either medical or adult-use to embrace these policies free from the threat of undue federal prosecution or interference.”

Will we see federal policy change by 2021?

Stay tuned.

 

Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

Cannabis is Medicine- Like It or Not, A Letter to the Government

by Veronica Castillo

Dear United States Government,

Many of us grew up in a time where weed/ marijuana/ cannabis was taught to be negative; a bad drug. Remember the fried egg commercial: “this is your brain (whole egg), this is your brain on drugs (cracked egg frying), any questions”? Such loads of buffalo crap when focusing on Cannabis and the human body.

What I know for sure is that alcohol was never a part of that message and those like it. We have a huge double standard out here on the West of the globe. For the most part, doctors push prescription meds instead of plant meds, holistic coaches are under appreciated, and instead of recommending plants- healthcare here in the U.S prefers the masking method: a pill for this condition and another for the side effects of the 1st one, then another for the side effects of the 1st two and so on.

In this country, you- the U.S government, glorify the consumption of alcohol. I mean go to many parties, events, and even corporate gatherings- and liquor will be found and there is a dance and celebration around it. Go to a team outing and liquor is allowed to be expensed. Taking a flight? Alcohol is available on your way to the airport, it is available in the airport, and even on the plane-no prescription needed, no recommendation necessary. Note that there are 0 medicinal benefits for alcohol, yet, you allowed prohibition of that deadly and non-medicinal drug to be no more.

Cannabis treats a number of conditions, and in my opinion, there is nothing that Cannabis can’t help with. M.S, migraine, depression, anxiety, cancer, PTSD, and many more- all of which are protected by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and yet ADA doesn’t protect Cannabis patients- shame on you!

“But Cannabis alters your mind”, so does love. “Smoking causes cancer”, possibly, but you don’t have to “smoke” Cannabis. “Legal Cannabis means more crime”, definitely a lie proved by bodies of research out there. I believe that lies were created to scare us, like the author of “It’s all thought” says:

We are headed into 2021, and there are mountains of research that show and prove the medicinal benefits of Cannabis. It’s time for full legalization- no more prohibition! For those that smoke, eat, vape, etc. Cannabis, regardless of the intention of use- those folks are treating- maybe even before needed, like a preventative. Cannabis is medicine no matter the reason for consumption!

With over half of the states legalizing for medicine, and the growing number of states legalizing Cannabis for recreational consumption, we the plant loving people of America demand that you CUT THE CRAP AND THE LIES AND LEGALIZE A PLANT THAT WILL SAVE LIVES! U.S government, it is your duty to protect and serve and instead you are dictating and harming!

This country seems to be run like a corporate business- FOR PROFIT. From a profit perspective, I see your ugly agenda. You can’t have a world filled with happy people in no pain because pain means money, i.e.: hospitals, pharmacies, and the makers of the poison that many doctors push.

Hemp has been released from the governments jail and we are becoming more accepting of CBD but- you- U.S government, are still so scared of THC. Alcohol can turn into “drunk” and pills can turn into an “opioid high”, which both alter the mind, body movements, and voice.

Are you against Cannabis THC because THC helps broaden perception and perspective and you don’t want free thinking people? Too scared that society will connect and see through your tom foolery?

Final Thoughts

You- U.S government say that THC is habit forming and therefore bad- yet, morphine is legal and used. You say that THC is a narcotic and therefore illegal- yet, Percocet/Oxy are legal and used. To me, the bigger lie is that the drugs above are schedule II- meaning they have medicinal value. THC- schedule I- meaning no medicinal value- I call B.S! And I am not the only one.

https://youtu.be/_0ojs3AFono

From the Front Lines

by Chip Paul | Chief Innovator GnuPharma

At this writing it is just a little over 2 years since commercial medical marijuana licenses began being is-sued in Oklahoma. When writing SQ788, a timer was installed to ensure that the State was efficient in rolling out the program. In just two years we are now the largest medical marijuana marketplace in the nation. Expected sales in the Oklahoma medical marijuana market in 2021 will top $1 billion dollars.

We are now approaching 10% of our population as medical patients. Further, this number keeps increasing! I was at a patient drive last weekend and they had to take overflow and still had a waiting list! Almost all of our patients are registered voters.

So what does all this mean? Well let’s consider it this way. What if a new BILLION dollar industry were coming to the State? Would we be excited like we were for Tesla? Would we consider the economic impact? Would the State whole-heartedly embrace the new industry? Would the State HELP the new industry?

One would assume yes, but it is the cannabis business after all. While we may NEVER get any love from the powers that be, we know somethings. We will have INCREDIBLE influence in elections should we choose to unify. We certainly now have the commercial horsepower to guard our industry, the question is will we?

A lot yet to do! Anyone watching Psilocybin legislation? Cindy and I are. A small molecule research mecca in Oklahoma soon? If folks were smart they would be considering. Where is our cannabis research license BTW? We need that developed and available for issue soon!

We have made tremendous progress in the last 2 years. Hundreds of thousands of patients are experiencing the healing benefits of medical marijuana. Physicians are beginning to wake up and FINALLY ask for education. I am so PROUD of us! #itshappening

We Shouldn’t Turn Our Noses up at Those Convicted of Cannabis, Part 3

by Veronica Castillo

 

Probably Wasn’t Cannabis Anyway

Society Judges but the System is Designed to Win

So many times, people are released from prison but not really released from the impact. A lot of people that haven’t been impacted by jail/prison, assume that those released aren’t living to their full potential for of all kinds of reasons- generally, the ones. The consideration of the system is hardly there, well, for some groups. For other groups, we know that the entire design, is for our demise. The system is designed to win.

In the previous piece, I discussed lab chemists dry labbing substances , and those fake results being used to jail people. Those people, convicted under crime, may be able to rid themselves of jail but their lives will never be the same. The system makes life after jail really hard. The last season of Orange is the New Black highlights the truths in that statement; or this: 

Felons/ people convicted of “crimes” lose many rights:

  • Voting rights
  • Employment opportunities
  • The right to travel abroad
  • The right to bear arms or own guns
  • Jury service rights
  • Public social benefits and housing benefits/rights

Imagine this being life after serving time for a substance that was never tested. And the lab chemist able to go into work daily, high going in and maintaining it while there, messing up analysis, and putting people away for years- maybe life. Imagine being released after spending 10+ years in jail, for a substance that was never tested, and then having your human rights taken away.

This happens every single day cross America. Even when caught- the system is designed to win. While people were convicted and spent years in jail, the system made it so that the lab chemist that failed – only spent months in jail. And even after that, the fight to release people continues; because the system is designed to win. 

They should release people but instead, they keep them locked up while the lab chemists are set free. How to Fix a Drug Scandal on Netflix, takes viewers into a system that is designed to win. For those that Sonja Farak and Annie Dookan had a hand in prosecuting, life for them has been changed and will forever be changed. We as a society should not turn our noses up at people. The system has been designed to win at all costs- even lives. 

We Shouldn’t Turn Our Noses up at Those Convicted of Cannabis Part 2

by Veronica Castillo

 The Substance Probably Wasn’t Cannabis Anyway

Crimes tied to illegal substances ; what should happen when someone is arrested for Cannabis, or any substance.

Imagine a system that tells people that their baby powder is cocaine, throws them in jail, and then at trial- lie about the test results. Or a system that tells people that they have a half a pound of Cannabis, and the reason so, is because they intend to distribute. Or a system that created 400 years of dark heavy weight over a group of people, and then telling those people that it’s their fault that they have a harder time than most, in day to day life.

So many have to imagine this but so many don’t because it’s actually their life, and/or a part of their life. We live in a country that has allowed our government to do all of these things and continue to do them. We live in a system where substances should be tested before anyone spends a day in jail, but instead, we allow lab chemists to get high at work, while lives are suffering behind bars for much less.

When someone is arrested for anything related to an illegal substance charge, like the police find a bag of white powder in a vehicle- THAT SUBSTANCE SHOULD GET- SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO GET- THE ONLY WAY ITS FAIR IS- GET THE SUBSTANCE TESTED!

Generally, someone is arrested, the substance(s) are sent to state/state approved labs for testing by a lab chemist, who is required to analyze and test the substance to determine if it is in fact an illegal substance. This is the very fast run through- the process isn’t as brisk.

But what happens in places like Massachusetts, is the state prosecutes cases and convicts’ people of crimes tied to illegal substances, that weren’t even tested. The state of Massachusetts convicted hundreds of people for lab results that were “dry lab tested” by a lab chemist that was consuming drugs in and out of work.

Dry lab testing in this case, is the lab chemist not actually testing the sample but instead, visually analyzing and making an “expert opinion”.

Like in the Massachusetts case of Annie Dookan; a lab chemist that used dry labbing which resulted in the destruction of lives. She admits that instead of testing individual substances as required, she’d gather a handful of cases—around 13 or 15—and eyeball the substances altogether to make a decision.

This is just a short, make you aware of the system piece. My hope is that with this, you’ll dig a little deeper and maybe even watch a docu-series about crimes tied to illegal substances which tell the story in more detail and with more context. The docu-series is  a great look into the many lives never deserving to be in prison/jail, and why we should stop turning our noses up at those them. It likely wasn’t an illegal substance anyway.

We shouldn’t Turn our Noses Up at Those Convicted of Cannabis

by Veronica Castillo

the Substance Probably Wasn’t Cannabis Anyway

Part 1 of 3 because, we need the whole truth

 

The truth is, many turn their nose up at those that have been convicted of Cannabis related crimes. Noses are usually not turned up at the jacked-up system that wrongfully framed many. Many can’t fathom the idea that the government can and would do this, but documentaries like “How to make a murderer” wouldn’t exist. 

The truth is, our government uses jail as one form of modern-day slavery and to keep the jails loaded, they make things go their way behind the scenes. There are thousands of people that can prove their innocence if money wasn’t a factor. Our government is the biggest mafia with some of the richest resources.

Do people really think that they are angels?

Netflix gives us chances to see it with multiple documentaries focused on the sham called our government. I watched one recently that inspired me to write this series (more on the docu-series later). Thing is, people are arrested for powder, grass, and liquid like substances that resemble some form of illegal substance, and many times, those substances are never even tested. 

Yes. Many times, people are arrested and charged with some crime related to some illegal substance. And though our government should test, many many many times, this never happens. 

My goal in this series; to help us all collectively stop judging the man and/or woman that were arrested for Cannabis related offenses. Because, the truth is, and many must acknowledge this instead of defending the government, our government targets certain people, groups, and communities to keep jails filled. 

Here is some evidence:

Photo by Author- Weed Maps Museum of Weed

Marijuana has been a key driver of mass criminalization in this country and hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are Black or Latinx, have their lives impacted by a marijuana arrest each year.

  • The number of people incarcerated in the U.S., in 2016 was the highest incarceration rate in the world, 2,205,300.
  • One-fifth of the incarcerated population (456K), which is the highest in the world, is serving time for a drug related offense. 
  • Close to 80% of people serving time for a federal drug offense are black or Latino.

(fact check for these 3: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/reports/2018/06/27/452819/ending-war-drugs-numbers/)

Certain people, groups, and communities are targeted for the governments gain. We should not turn our noses up at people that have fallen victim to the government. In my next piece, I’ll discuss testing, how it should happen, and how sometimes- it doesn’t even happen.

Each Presidential Candidates Stance on Cannabis

Just in time for Super Tuesday, here’s an overview of the presidential candidate’s stances on federal Cannabis legalization.

After all, this green plant holds a very dear place in our hearts and the hearts of over 30 other states. So, before you hit the polls tomorrow make sure you check out our list below!

 

Republican Candidates

(Incumbent) Donald Trump

The president has made it clear in the past month that he is against legalizing cannabis on a federal level.  The Trump Administration has proposed removing medical marijuana protections in the 2021 fiscal budget. This means that the federal government would again have funding to arrest, fine, or harass state medical marijuana agencies and patients.

“I think what the president is looking at is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent — of a parent of a young person — to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs,” Mr. Lotter, the director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 campaign. “They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy.”

 

Bill Weld 

Bill Weld is on the board of directors for the Cannabis investment firm Acreage Holdings, so it is fair to say he has a personal stake in the legalization of Cannabis. Recently, Weld endorsed the STATES Act, calling the bill to end federal prohibition, “his favorite piece of legislation that is on the Hill right now.”

Democratic Candidates

Joe Biden 

Joe Biden’s opposition to the legalization of Marijuana has been made very well known even before his bid for the race. Biden recently gave an interview to the New York Times editorial board where he stated that Cannabis should not be legalized without more studies.

” I think science matters,” he stated. ” I mean one of the reasons I’m running against the guy I’m running against is science matters, not fiction.”

 

 

 

Michael Bloomberg

Mike Bloomberg does not support the federal legalization of Cannabis, in fact, history has shown him to tout quite an anti-marijuana rhetoric. On the topic of Marijuana law reform, he had this to say,

“We have a different kind of problem in America, for example. Last year, in 2017, 72,000 Americans [overdosed] on drugs. In 2018, more people than that are OD-ing on drugs, have OD’d on drugs. And today, incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic, which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.

 

 

 

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard is very much for Cannabis legalization on a federal level. In a statement made in her  formal campaign launch speech, she made this clear by criticizing a criminal justice system that,

 “puts people in prison for smoking marijuana while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people, to walk away scot-free with their coffers full.”

 

 

 

Bernie Sanders 

Bernie Sanders is on the side on Cannabis legalization so much that he has promised legal Marijuana to all 50 states on day 1 of his presidency if he were to be elected.

“We will end the destructive war on drugs,”  Sander said at a rally in Ceder Rapids  “On my first day in office through executive order we will legalize marijuana in every state in this country.”

 

 

Elizabeth Warren 

Elizabeth Warren is very much for the legalization of Cannabis. Her campaign website has a lengthy page dedicated to all of her beliefs on why Marijuana needs to be federally legal.  She even states,”

“For four decades, we’ve subscribed to a “War on Drugs” theory of crime, which has criminalized addiction, ripped apart families—and failed to curb drug use. Legalizing marijuana and erasing past convictions won’t fully end the War on Drugs or address its painful legacy, but it’s a needed step in the right direction.”