Marijuana Business This Week: Cannabis oil in Georgia, early MMJ access in MA, finalizing hemp regs in Alaska & more

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Here are some notable stories and events in the cannabis industry to watch for in the coming days:

STRIKING OIL: A Georgia law making it legal to produce and distribute cannabis oils with a THC cap at 5% goes into effect Monday, giving the state’s more than 9,500 registered medical marijuana patients better access to cannabis products.

In April, Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 324 into law and, in doing so, closed a loophole that forced some patients to cross state borders in order to obtain the oils.

A 2015 state law banned growing, buying and selling the drug but allowed certain patients to possess it.

While the new law keeps Georgia’s THC cap at 5%, it allows for six growing licenses to be granted to private companies – two for larger organizations and four for smaller businesses.

Current state law allows people with 16 specific conditions, including cancer, seizure disorders and Parkinson’s disease, to possess cannabis oil.

EARLY REGISTRATION: Beginning Monday, qualifying patients and personal caretakers in Massachusetts can obtain medical marijuana before being issued an annual registration card.

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission announced last month that with the help of a clinician, the new process will give patients immediate entry to registered marijuana dispensaries while their registration cards are being processed.

Patients and caregivers who utilize Initial Access Certification will be permitted to enter a dispensary once they receive a temporary registration document from the commission.

Once registered, the initial certification will allow patients a 14-day supply of medical marijuana, or 2.5 ounces, for two weeks. The patient’s clinician may certify the need for a different amount.

The temporary registration will expire either 14 days after issuance or when the recipient is approved for an annual registration card.

SPEAK NOW: Wednesday is the final day for the Alaska Division of Agriculture to accept comments on proposed legislation for regulating commercial production of hemp.

The legislation would reward farmers who use certified varieties with lower THC testing fees.

Alaska has proved slow to implement a law allowing commercial production, leaving it on the outside looking in at the current hemp and CBD boom. It did not record any production in 2018.

Among the key points in the proposed legislation:

  • Hemp THC testing would cost $200 for certified-seed varieties, or $1,200 for noncertified varieties.
  • Hemp growers would pay annual licensing fees of $200.
  • Hemp processors would be divided into those making products for human and animal consumption and those making nonconsumable fiber products.
  • Hemp processors making consumed products such as CBD or food products would pay $750 a year.
  • Hemp processors making nonconsumed products such as fiber would pay $250 a year.

TAXING QUESTIONS: The Long Beach (California) City Council on Tuesday is expected to consider a recommendation to commission a report on the creation of a 24-month pilot program in which the tax rate for the city’s nonretail cannabis operations would be lowered.

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, those operations include cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and laboratory testing.

Currently, manufacturers, testing labs and distributors all have a 6% tax rate, the same as medical dispensaries. Cultivators get taxed at $12 per square foot.

While Long Beach’s tax rate is comparable to some other large California cities, Cannabis Program Manager Ajay Kolluri told the Press-Telegram it’s much higher than the 1%-2% rate for similar Los Angeles-area businesses.

As a result, Kolluri said, Long Beach may not be competitive enough to attract new companies in those sectors, which could bring new jobs and tax revenue to the city.

EXPIRING LICENSE SCORECARD: There were 163 cultivation licenses that expired in June in California, according to an analysis of state license data by Marijuana Business Daily.