There is a slew of new legislation before the courts in states across the country. And while Colorado’s Bill HB 1053 that allows for cannabis cultivators in the state to use reclaimed domestic waste water doesn’t get as much media attention as, say, the ex-Republican Speaker of the House joining the advisory board of a marijuana cultivation company, state legislation is still important to the industry as a whole. Here is a quick look at what is on the docket this week for Colorado, Delaware and Iowa, and a quick update on what is happening at the federal level.
Let’s start simple. Delaware has just one piece of legislation before the courts this week, HB 374, which seeks to add glaucomaoma, pediatric autism spectrum disorder, chronic debilitating migraines, and pediatric processing disorder to the list of conditions eligible for medicinal marijuana use.
Iowa just has one piece of legislation slated for a vote this week, but it’s a little more layered—SF 2372 would exempt medicinal cannabidiol, known as CBD, from the state’s 6-percent sales tax, and it would allow for more medical conditions to be acceptable for Iowa’s medical cannabis program. There are currently only nine qualifying conditions for medicinal marijuana in the state according to the Iowa Department of Health.
Now was does this mean? Quick analysis is that this is a direct indicator that the state wants to make it easier for the medical cannabis industry to grow. By allowing CBD to be exempt from the state sales tax, and at the same time expanding the list of what conditions are allowed to be treated with CBD, it seems that Iowa believes the substance has enough of a medical benefit that they are willing to forgo potential profits that would be generated from some type of sales tax.
While there is no set rule for taxing medicinal or recreational marijuana—Michigan has a 3-percent sales tax on medical cannabis, Montana has a 4-percent tax on medical that drops to 2-percent after June 30, and Massachusetts has no tax—a leading argument behind legalization at both the state and federal level is the financial windfall generated by a sales or excise tax. Perhaps by exempting CBD, Iowa is looking for greater financial gains elsewhere. (Maybe in the sale of yet-to-be-introduced recreational legislation? We’ll have to see.)
There are three bills up for a vote this week in Colorado. One of them, if it moves forward, you’ll read about in the headlines. First up, there is the aforementioned HB 1053 that would allow growers to use reclaimed domestic wastewater. “Section 3 of the bill defines 3 categories of water quality standards for reclaimed domestic wastewater, sets forth the allowable uses for each water quality standard category, and adds marijuana cultivation as an allowable use for reclaimed domestic wastewater.” Next up we have HB 1389, that would create a centralized distribution permit for cultivation facilities or retail growers. This is a big move, third party distributors for growers was seen as a growing clog in California last fall, so allowing for more streamline distribution is important to the bottom line for companies.
Now, these are all well and good if you’re a CO-based grow facility, and certainly important. But, what if you’re just a fella on vacation, maybe looking to take in a game at Mile High Stadium or hit Vail’s back bowls? Anything in this week’s legislation for you? Funny you should ask. Last but not least this week we have HB 1258, which would allow for establishing dispensary “tasting rooms” in the state. If passed, the bill “authorizes each licensed medical marijuana center or retail marijuana store to establish one medical or retail marijuana accessory consumption establishment … that may sell marijuana, marijuana concentrate, and marijuana-infused products for consumption, other than smoking, at the establishment.” The wording goes on to say that, “The bill contains requirements for obtaining endorsements, authorizing an establishment, and required actions and prohibited actions for persons operating an establishment.”
What does that mean in non-legal speak? That means we’re that much closer to Colorado pot bars, my friends. Allowing Colorado to establish “tasting rooms,” essentially designated areas within a dispensary where you can consume the product, is a big move. It is a big step toward some sort of Rocky Mountain style incarnation of the Amsterdam weed cafe.
While it was a quiet week on the hill in terms of announcements on marijuana legislation, relatively speaking, there were several pieces of legislation that have already made the news, but are picking up important new sponsors. Sen. Bernie Sanders (DI-VT) cosponsored the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) cosponsored the Therapeutic Medical Access Act of 2017, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) signed onto the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, that was introduced earlier this month. Keep up the good work Washington, let’s get this done.