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Illinois to ‘Re-score’ Applicants for More Finalists for Cannabis Licenses

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An Illinois judge rejected a request to stop re-scoring applications for recreational cannabis licenses. The ruling allows the state to continue re-scoring applications after complaints about the initial process to receive one of 75 available licenses.

Three companies that received perfect scores on their licensing applications filed the lawsuit. Sangamon County Judge Adam Giganti ruled the plaintiffs weren’t likely to prove they would be “irreparably harmed” from re-scoring licenses. Unsuccessful applicants claimed they weren’t made aware of problems with their applications that could have been corrected. They also argued scoring was inconsistent.

Only 21 out of over 900 applicants qualified for the first round of 75 social equity licenses, meant for dispensaries expected to help improve communities harmed by the war on drugs.

Some of the losing firms filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s administration, claiming the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was violated as it states applicants were to be notified if their applications were “deficient in any respect.”

Earlier this year, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order to extend the application deadline to the end of March of this year. The licenses were to be awarded May 1 after an initial delay due to coronavirus, however the awarding of the licenses has been further delayed indefinitely. Failed applicants will now receive a “supplementary deficiency notice” that explains where they lost points and will have 10 days after receiving the notice to make any changes to their application.

Recreational cannabis has been a hit in Illinois, with the state selling $11 million in cannabis products in the first five days of legal recreational sales. In the month of October alone, the state saw over $100 million in cannabis sales, with $75 million coming from recreational cannabis sales.

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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Cannabis Home Delivery in California

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A California judge recently dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a ruling that allows cannabis companies to deliver across the state, even in cities and counties where cannabis sales are prohibited.  

A group of local governments argued that allowing cannabis deliveries in any jurisdiction was taking over their authority to regulate cannabis sales. In a ruling, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire said the state’s delivery regulations and local ordinances “do not occupy the same field and are not in conflict.”

Cannabis deliveries can continue under the state regulations. McGuire said the state rule does not impact the rights to regulate cannabis or cannabis delivery and added local jurisdictions can impose regulatory and health and safety standards that are stricter than state laws.

“It’s not a loss, but it’s not a win for delivery,” said Zach Pitts, CEO of Los Angeles-based Ganja Goddess and a board member of the California Cannabis Couriers Association. “What I really don’t like is the possibility that we’re still going to have to litigate this and in many ways, that’s putting the litigation onto small companies…with every single city and county that decides to ban delivery.”

There are some counties that don’t allow cannabis sales so without statewide delivery, people living in those counties wouldn’t have access to cannabis, whether for recreational purposes or for medical use. Deputy Attorney General Ethan Turner said cities can still require cannabis delivery businesses to apply for a business license from the city and follow city ordinances.

“It’s legal here and they already bought it. All we are doing is getting it to them. They didn’t buy it at the door or anything. They just received it,” said Ethan Bowers, who helps run a cannabis grow in Northern California. We all thought it was crazy that they would try and stop it. And, if it had passed in court, we’d be looking anywhere for more sales, as at-home sales are really big during COVID-19.” 

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Legislator Predicts Recreational Cannabis Legalization for Connecticut in 2021

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Connecticut could be the next state to legalize recreational cannabis as more neighboring states are working on their own legalization efforts. Incoming House Speaker Matt Ritter recently stated that there is a “50-50” chance to legalize cannabis in 2021.

A measure to legalize cannabis in the state has repeatedly failed over the past five years, but Democrats hold the majority in the state House and in the state Senate. With recreational cannabis legal in Massachusetts and New Jersey and other neighboring states considering legalization, the Governor of Connecticut believes his state will be next.

“Right now, I’m surrounded by states—New Jersey and Massachusetts—where marijuana is already legal. I don’t need a lot of people driving back and forth across the border,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. “We’re trying to keep people close to home as best we can right now. I think legalizing marijuana—doing that safely and making sure that no poison is laced in—I think is one to keep people closer to home.”

Ritter disputed the claim that one of the main reasons the lawmakers are pushing for legalization is to use the tax revenue to close the state budget gap. A study conducted at the University of Connecticut found legal recreational cannabis could bring in $100 million in tax revenue in just four years. “To me, marijuana has nothing to do with revenue,” Ritter said. “I could care less. Every year that goes by brings in less revenue for the state. I don’t care if it brings in one dollar or $30 million. It’s completely irrelevant to me.”

Ritter stated that his two main reasons for supporting cannabis legalization are the expungement of criminal offenses of those who have been impacted by the War on Drugs, and that cannabis is all around the state of Connecticut and the state can’t “fortify its border” and pretend people aren’t just going to buy it elsewhere.

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FDA Provides Updates on Research Gaps for Regulating Cannabis

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It has long been a point of contention for the legal cannabis industry that cannabis products have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While cannabis is still federally illegal, the FDA recently addressed some of the challenges in regulating cannabis compounds and products containing cannabis.

According to the FDA, not having access to enough research data is one of the main issues that the organization faces. Specifically, the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health notes that many CBD products are marketed toward women, such as sex products, and more research is essential in order to better understand the effects of those products. “As women are generally the principal healthcare consumers in the US, understanding sex and gender differences between women and men must be at the forefront of our minds,” said Kaveeta Vasisht, director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health and associate commissioner for women’s health.

In addition to regulating CBD, one of the most popular legal cannabis derivatives on the market, the FDA is also looking for more information on regulating THC and other popular compounds such as CBN and CBG, as well as terpenes. “FDA’s responsibilities are over the entire spectrum of the products derived from cannabis and the FDA must be prepared to regulate them in the most appropriate ways,” said Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director for regulatory programs at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Overall, the FDA outlines some major problem areas due to lack of knowledge, including logistics, evolving legislation, increased legality of cannabis and scientific uncertainty. The plan is to tackle these areas and gain more knowledge so they can properly regulate cannabis of all types. This includes employing the help of cross-agency committees called the “CBD Working Group,” which enlists the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Center for Drug Evaluation, Center for Biological Evaluation and Research, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Center for Veterinary Medicine, National Center for Toxicology Research, Center for Tobacco Products and Coordinated by the Office of the Commissioner.

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