Cannabis News of Note for the Week:

Politico Pro: Luetkemeyer: Cannabis banking negotiations over gun shop protections ‘down to just the last few words’ (paywalled article, full text below)

Politico Pro Cannabis (2/14/24): How to Make Licensing Work Better (paywalled newsletter, text below)

Cannabis Wire Daily (2/15/24): A standard for cannabis security (paywalled newsletter, text below)

Marijuana Moment: Moving Marijuana To Schedule III Would Not Violate International Treaties, Legal Opinion Says


Cannabis Reports of Note for the Week:

Cannabis Policy Lab: California Cannabis Report: Licensing and Market Access (Published February 2024)


Politico Pro: Luetkemeyer: Cannabis banking negotiations over gun shop protections ‘down to just the last few words’

The key section lawmakers are discussing is section 10, which contains provisions that address an Obama-era program called Operation Choke Point.

BY: NATALIE FERTIG | 02/15/2024 10:26 AM EST

Negotiations over a key section of the cannabis banking bill — addressing protections for gun shops — are close to wrapping up, according to one of the lead negotiators on the legislation.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo) told POLITICO on Wednesday that lawmakers have continued to work on it for the last six months, sending bill text back and forth. Most recently, he approved another version that was sent back to the Senate just last week.

“We’re down to just the last few words,” Luetkemeyer said. “I’m at a place I’m comfortable with. They’ve gotta get comfortable where I’m at.”

The backdrop: The key section lawmakers are discussing is section 10, which contains provisions that address an Obama-era program called Operation Choke Point. GOP lawmakers argue the program unfairly targeted businesses like gun manufacturers and oil and gas companies.

The language was added in the House before it passed that chamber the first time in 2019, and has support from conservatives like Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) who otherwise may not support the cannabis banking bill on its own.

What last few words are they discussing? Luetkemeyer mentioned one specific request he made: He asked negotiators to add the word “intimidate” to the language. That’s intended to ensure that regulators can’t intimidate a bank into not serving a specific sector. That add was approved by Senate negotiators, he said.

The offices of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), two of the main negotiators in the Senate, either did not respond to a request for comment or declined to comment for this story.


Politico Pro Cannabis (2/14/24): HOW TO MAKE LICENSING WORK BETTER  

A new report published by Cannabis Policy Lab (an education and consulting firm founded by a former California regulator) outlines a series of changes California could make to its state licensing structure and regulations to boost a struggling industry.

“Cannabis laws constructed in the early to mid 2010s focused on avoiding federal intervention and enforcement,” the report says, “which meant creating restrictive and tightly controlled regulatory oversight.” Now, it continues, newly legalizing states can “prioritize policies that foster small businesses, repair damage caused by the War on Drugs, mitigate known health harms,” and more.

The suggestions in the report are specific to California, but contain ideas many other state regulators and policymakers may find interesting. Here are a couple:

Streamlining the licensing process: Currently there are a number of licensing regulations in California that can slow down the process, costing applicants a lot of capital and the state money for extra review steps and personnel.

The report suggests licensing by location rather than activity. That would mean a cannabis company manufacturing and distributing from the same facility wouldn’t need two licenses for that facility, only one. It also suggests approving a business operator separately from activity licenses. Then if the operator has changes to their business license, they don’t also have to update five separate activity licenses that government workers must also sort through and approve.

The report also makes suggestions about local licensing — which is separate from state licensure, and can provide an extra set of barriers or slowdowns that cost small businesses money. Right now, the state and local governments sometimes both license for the same activity or based on the same criteria. The report suggests that California focus on regulating the cannabis market’s activity and its participants, while local governments regulate the business’ operations (when they’re open, where they can open, etc).


Cannabis Wire Daily (2/15/24): A standard for cannabis security

ASIS International, founded in 1955 and the self-described largest member org of security professionals, released their American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved standard for cannabis security.

The guidelines were developed by “industry experts” and cover areas from the design and implementation of a cannabis security program, to its maintenance.

“While previous efforts have sought to establish security standards for the cannabis industry, none match the comprehensive and well-organized nature of this standard,” Tim Sutton, vice chair of ASIS International’s Professional Standards Board (PSB) and co-chair of the technical committee for the Cannabis Security Standard’s development, said in a statement.

“Rooted in established and proven security standards, this initiative sets a new benchmark for the industry. This standard is not only needed, but anxiously anticipated by the industry.”