This week, the Nebraska Supreme Court heard arguments to determine whether a ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis can go before voters in November after opponents challenged the secretary of state’s decision to approve the measure for the ballot. Elsewhere, in Nevada, a judge ruled that the state can proceed with its cannabis licensing process after a two-year legal battle between the state and companies that were denied dispensary licenses in December 2018.
Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.
- Oklahoma: Supporters of an adult-use cannabis legalization initiative have withdrawn their petition, saying that gathering the 177,958 signatures required to get the issue before voters is unlikely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus crisis delayed the petition process for State Question 807, and by the time it advanced to the signature-gathering phase, it was already too late to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot. Read more
- Virginia: The Virginia Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit police stops based on cannabis odor in an effort to combat racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests. Senate Bill 5029 would outlaw search and seizures based on the small of cannabis alone, and now heads to the House of Delegates for consideration. Read more
- Massachusetts: The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has voted to expand cannabis delivery in the state. Among the approved changes to the delivery license model, the CCC unanimously voted to divide the delivery licenses into two categories, which sets the stage for a courier-style license and a separate delivery license that would allow for the wholesaling and warehousing of product. Read more
- Maine: Portland has received 38 applications for 20 available cannabis dispensary licenses, and after a recent court ruling declared the city’s scoring matrix unconstitutional, it is unclear how officials will decide who ultimately gets the licenses. Applicants had an Aug. 31 deadline to submit applications to operate medical and adult-use dispensaries within the city; four applicants are seeking medical cannabis retail licenses, while the rest would operate in the adult-use market, which is expected to launch Oct. 9. Read more
- California: Since mid-August, wildfires have burned through more than 1 million acres of California land, another echo of a recurring environmental catastrophe in a state that more than 5,000 licensed cannabis growers call home. We spoke with Kaela Peterson, who’s family runs Sweet Creek Farm in the hills above Santa Rosa, about her experience and her tips for growers hoping to guard against the oppressive force of wildfire. Read more
- A new lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that Los Angeles created new issues and inequities when it amended its cannabis regulations as part of a separate legal settlement earlier this summer. Three companies that share the same founder and that applied for cannabis dispensary licenses in the city—ARMLA One Inc., ARMLA Two Inc. and Gompers SocEq, Inc—filed the lawsuit Aug. 31, claiming that changes to the original rules favored certain social equity applicants over others. Read more
- Mississippi: California-based FM3 Research recently conducted a survey in Mississippi that revealed that 81% of the state’s voters support medical cannabis legalization. Mississippi voters will have the chance to vote on two competing medical cannabis measures on the November ballot after Mississippians for Compassionate Care succeeded in qualifying Initiative 65 for the ballot this summer and state legislators have introduced a competing measure, Alternative 65A. Read more
- Nebraska: The Nebraska Supreme Court heard arguments this week to determine whether a ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis can go before voters this November. Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen approved the measure for the state’s ballot Aug. 28, but that same day, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner challenged the measure, arguing that it violates state rules that mandate that ballot initiatives must focus on a single question. Read more
- Nevada: Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled this week that Nevada can proceed with its cannabis licensing process after a two-year battle between the state and companies that were denied dispensary licenses in December 2018. The decision will allow some new retailers to open and some applications to be reviewed again by state officials, but some companies will still be denied licenses, and Gonzalez said she expects her ruling to be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. Read more
- Illinois: Regulators announced this week that the long-delayed next round of cannabis dispensary licenses will be awarded later this month, when 21 social equity applicants will be included in a lottery to win the 75 licenses. Some of the applicants that qualified for the lottery share the same owners, and the system has drawn some criticism from those who have been denied access to the lottery. Read more