PBS recently released a series under their News Hour segment entitled “The Green Rush” which is a review of the cannabis industry in the United States, including legalization, attitudes, and benefits plus challenges. The insight provided includes information from researchers, experts, and financial analysts and focuses on the latest wave of cannabis legalization. The following is a compiled listing of marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, as of July 2019.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Arkansas
Cannabis is legal for medical use in Arkansas. Efforts are in the works to put recreational use on next year’s ballot. Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2020 is a group pushing for legalized recreational use of cannabis for Arkansans 21 years of age and older. With that legalization, the group is petitioning for expungement of records of anyone convicted for a non-violent, marijuana-related offense, as well as release from incarceration for anyone whose current and only conviction is cannabis-related. The amendment is currently being finalized with a legal team and will then be sent to the Secretary of State’s office and cleared for circulation.
A maximum of 32 cultivation licenses were issued in each of eight public health districts in Arkansas, with no more than one license issued per entity. Cultivation sites are not allowed within 3,000 feet of any school, church or daycare center. There is a two-tier licensing scheme for dispensaries: tier one is comprised of those who intend to grow marijuana (fifty mature marijuana plants are allowed), while tier two is comprised of dispensaries which do not intend to grow marijuana. Intent was declared at application submission.
The application fee was $15,000 with a refund of half the application fee if not approved. Within seven days of receiving written notice of selection, the applicant shall submit a license fee of $100,000 in cash or certified funds, as well as a performance bond for $500,000. Applications for licenses are no longer being accepted. However, Arkansas is gearing up to license another 27 dispensaries and five cultivators.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Louisiana
Cannabis is legal for medical use in Louisiana. CBD use is allowed with a THC concentration of less than 0.3%; hemp and CBD are still banned from being used in food and drinks. Recently, lawmakers approved a bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell cannabis inhalers to patients. The bill is awaiting governor approval.
The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy was tasked with regulating the dispensary program, therefore, only existing pharmacies are allowed to dispense medical marijuana. Additionally, no more than ten pharmacies are allowed to obtain a license to dispense. A single production facility is responsible for growing at this time. Applications are not currently being accepted.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Oklahoma
Cannabis is legal for medical use in Oklahoma and CBD use is also allowed. On July 9, 2019, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority said it is currently taking steps to implement statutory modifications to the state’s medical marijuana program that was made during the 2019 legislative session.
“OMMA has reinstituted a project management structure to ensure compliance and timely implementation of the changes,” said Tom Bates, Interim Commissioner of Health. “Implementation activities will include rule promulgation, procurement, information technology changes, application developments, and operational planning.”
All changes will be implemented through August and November and will be followed by permanent rule promulgation activities in 2020. Below is a listing of some legislative changes effective as of August 30, 2019.
- The timeline for review of business applications is extended to 90 business days.
- Renewals can be submitted online; licenses will remain valid and active while the renewal is being processed, even if the renewal processing time goes beyond the expiration date of the license.
- Residency is changed to mean (1) Oklahoma residency for 2 years preceding the date of application; or (2) 5 years of continuous Oklahoma residency during the 25 years preceding the date of application.
- Licensed growers can sell seeds, flowers, or clones to other licensed growers. It also authorizes licensed dispensaries to sell to other licensed dispensaries.
- Five new license categories have been added:
- Transporter ($2,500) – distribution and storage of medical marijuana.
- Transporter Agent ($100) – agents, employees, officers, or owners of a transporter license holder in order to transport medical marijuana.
- Testing Laboratory ($2,500) – a laboratory to perform testing on medical marijuana. This license is anticipated to be available by early 2020.
- Education Facility ($500) – nonprofit entity to provide training and education to individuals involved in the growing, processing, packaging, and testing of medical marijuana. This license is anticipated to be available by early 2020.
- Waste Facility – This license is anticipated to be established by November 2019.
Applications are currently open for growers, processors, and dispensaries in Oklahoma. A licensed commercial grower may only sell marijuana to a licensed retailer or a licensed processor and there are no growth limits; the application fee is $2,500. A licensed processor is allowed to take marijuana plants and distill or process these plants into concentrates, edibles, and other forms for consumption. Products must be sold to a licensed retailer or any other licensed processor; the application fee is $2,500. A licensed medical marijuana dispensary may conduct retail sales of marijuana or marijuana derivatives in the form provided by licensed processors. These products can only be sold to a medical marijuana patient license holder or their caregiver. The application fee is $2,500.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Texas
Cannabis is illegal in Texas. Use of low-THC CBD is allowed for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy, all seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, ALS, autism, terminal cancer, and incurable neurodegenerative disease. The district attorneys of Texas counties Bexar, Fort Bend, Harris, and Nueces have recently signed agreements to cease pursuing criminal charges for persons found with four ounces or less of marijuana, unless a lab test results proves it has a THC concentration more than .3%.
Passed in 2019, House Bill 1325 changed the definition of marijuana from certain parts of the cannabis plant to those parts which contain a higher level of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This change requires resources numerous district attorneys, the state’s prosecutor’s association and crime labs do not have, therefore weakening marijuana cases where defendants could claim the substance is instead hemp.
A Dispensing Organization license is required to cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis to prescribed patients. Applications are not currently being accepted but no limit on licenses was established, therefore, as need expands, new licensing opportunities may become available. The previous application fee was $6,000.
Learn and Network at THE Cannabis Expo
When states open their application process, whether for cannabis or hemp, growth, processing, or dispensing, the window of time if often slim. Time wasted in the process may mean the difference between a successful application and a missed opportunity. Utilize your resources before they are needed! CannaCon is the leading marijuana event and hemp conference for networking with like-minded entrepreneurs and gaining expertise on the subject. CannaCon is coming to your area. Register today for CannaCon South Sept. 27-28, 2019.