[co-author: Hanna Barker Mullin]
Cannabis: in the foreground
- Biden signs historic Cannabis Research Act
- PREPARE filed deed
- Rhode Island opens market for adult-use cannabis
Biden signs historic Cannabis Research Act
On December 2, 2022, President Biden signed the bipartisan agreement Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act.
The legislation is intended to facilitate scientific research on cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD). Previously, cannabis’s Schedule I status meant that medical research was subject to strict regulation. Among other things, the law expedites the government review process of cannabis research permits by requiring the US Department of Justice to conduct its initial review of applications for cannabis research permits within 60 days. This process currently takes a year or more. Additionally, the law creates a pathway for universities and other entities to produce, distribute, distribute, and possess research cannabis.
We will continue to monitor the implementation of the new law.
PREPARE filed deed
Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) has formally filed the Effectively Prepare Regulators for Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act on December 1, 2022. Among other things, the bill would direct the Attorney General to form a commission to develop federal regulatory frameworks in anticipation of legalization related to criminal law, financial services, research and product safety. A bipartisan bill was introduced in the House in April 2022, supported by Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Brian Mast (R-FL), among others.
The proposed commission would be responsible for studying how federal and state regulatory models for alcohol might inform cannabis regulations, work with experts to design regulatory framework proposals, and report to Congress. According to the bill official summary, the commission would be charged with recommending regulatory frameworks that address “the disproportionate impact that cannabis prohibition has had on minority, low-income and veteran communities; encourage access to research and training for medical professionals; encourage economic opportunities for individuals and small businesses; and develop protections for the hemp industry.
Preparing regulatory frameworks for the potential legalization of cannabis is particularly important given concerns about the dormant trade clause. As we wrote Before, the Dormant Trade Clause is a constitutional provision that prohibits states from unfairly encumbering interstate commerce. If (and more and more when) interstate trade in cannabis is opened, regulators will be tasked with integrating new federal laws with existing state requirements. The ambiguity between state and federal authorities could cause frustration for industry, regulators and the public.
The prospects for passing the bill in the current Congress are slim given the lame session. However, the bill could be indicative of future regulatory efforts to prepare for the potential legalization of cannabis.
Rhode Island opens market for adult-use cannabis
Rhode Island’s adult-use market opened on December 1, 2022. The state is the latest to legalize the personal recreational use and retail sale of cannabis to persons 21 and older, becoming the 19th in the country to do so. Several cannabis companies have been granted “hybrid commercial licenses” that have allowed them to convert existing medical cannabis programs into adult-use sales. The proceeds of these hybrid licenses were deposited in a social equity fund. In a declarationRhode Island Governor Dan McKee noted that the new adult-use sales represented “a win for our statewide economy and our strong local cannabis supply chain.”