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CA Governor Vetoes Pot Shop Food and Beverage Bill, DEA Extends Telehealth Prescribing, More... (10/9/23)

Arizona pot shop social equity licenses are having a hard time getting their doors open, Kentucky's governor signs an executive order creating a medical marijuana working group, and more.

Doctors will be able to prescribe this opioid dependence disorder drug via telehealth for another year. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Social Equity Marijuana Retailers Set to Miss Key Deadline. The state's social equity marijuana retail licensees are supposed to have their shops open by Sunday, but more than half of them are poised to miss that deadline.

While they could face penalties for failing to meet the state-mandated deadline up to having their licenses revoked, state regulators say they will not do that but will allow them more time to get up and running.

Some 26 retail licenses out of 169 are allocated to social equity licensees, who face a number of obstacles to opening, including a lack of funding, lawsuits, competition from existing operators and other factors. They also have to operate under more restrictive rules than other marijuana businesses.

Social equity operators can sell to medical marijuana patients, but patients who buy at those shops have to pay a 16 percent excise tax and cannot buy edibles with more than 100 milligrams of THC per package. Social equity shops can also only sell customers one ounce of buds a day, while the 130 medical marijuana sellers that were grandfathered into the adult-use market can sell 2.5 ounces.       

California Governor Vetoes Bill to Allow Marijuana Retailers to Sell Food and Beverages. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has added another notch in veto belt against progressive drug reforms (he has recently vetoed psychedelic decriminalization and safe injection site pilot project bills) by vetoing a bill that would have allowed localities to give marijuana retailers the ability to prepare and serve non-marijuana food and beverages, Assembly Bill 374.

In his veto message, Newsom said he was concerned the bill could undermine the state's smoke-free workplace protections. He said he "appreciated" that struggling pot shops needed more revenue streams, but that was not enough for him to sign the bill.

Bill sponsor Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) was an effort to move away from the marijuana-only shop model and "bring much-needed tourist dollars into empty downtowns."

"Californians are proud of our state's wine culture, and we do everything we can to make sure that our winemakers receive the support they need -- we need to be doing the exact same thing for cannabis," Haney said. "If we don't start better supporting these businesses we are going to lose decades of being at the forefront of the cannabis movement and other states will be ready to swoop in and take it from us."

Medical Marijuana

Kentucky Governor Signs Executive Order Creating New Medical Marijuana Working Group. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) last Thursday announced the creation of a new working group to study marijuana policy developments in the state and the country, as well as announcing the launch of a new government website so people can follow the upcoming implementation of the state's medical marijuana program.

The medical marijuana program is set to begin in 2025. People who are interested in the program's progress can go to to follow along with the implementation process.

The Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Workgroup will consist of 12 membrs who will "study the evolving medical cannabis industry policy and the state of medical cannabis policy in our Commonwealth and around the country."

"This group will include individuals and state and local government and the private sector with relevant experience in law enforcement, agriculture, health care, workforce and economic development," he said. "They will be making recommendations to the program and other state agencies that interact with this new law and with Kentuckians to ensure they have safe access to medical cannabis."

Drug Policy

DEA Extends Telehealth Prescribing of Controlled Substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last Friday that they will extend pandemic-era telehealth prescribing flexibility for controlled substances through the end of 2024.

This is the second temporary extension of relaxed prescribing rules for drugs such as opioid use disorder medications and stimulant medications for ADHD. The rules allow doctors to prescribe the drugs virtually without first having an in-patient evaluation.

The rule ensures "a smooth transition for patients and practitioners that have come to rely on the availability of telemedicine for controlled medication prescriptions, as well as allowing adequate time for providers to come into compliance with any new standards or safeguards," the DEA and the HHS wrote. The DEA will work to write new regulations by the fall of 2024.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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