Cannabis: In Focus

  • Massachusetts Governor Signs Comprehensive Cannabis Regulation Bill
  • Labeling Error Forces Curaleaf to Remove Thousands of Products From Shelves

Massachusetts Governor Signs Comprehensive Cannabis Regulation Bill

On August 11, 2022, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill (S. 3096) aimed at advancing social equity and diversity within the state’s cannabis industry and supporting cannabis businesses with state and local taxes and fees. The new law also provides guidance for on-site consumption facilities.

The new law provides for several social equity initiatives. For example, individuals with state criminal records for cannabis possession or cultivation could petition for expungement. The bill also directs 15% of revenue collected via state cannabis taxes to the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund for grants and loans to entrepreneurs adversely affected by the war on drugs. The law also incentivizes localities to host social equity cannabis retailers by directing 1% of total sales received by a business back to municipalities that host that business.

Regarding taxes and fees, the legislation alters the state tax code so that cannabis retailers can write off business expenses. Municipalities are also limited in what fees they can charge cannabis businesses in their borders.

The new law provides for the regulation of cannabis social consumption establishments, permitting on-site consumption of cannabis. The law provides that such establishments must be allowed in the city or town in which they are located and cannot sell or allow the consumption of tobacco.

Governor Baker vetoed a provision that would have directed the state’s cannabis regulator to study the possession and consumption of medical cannabis at schools by students with valid registration cards.

Labeling Error Forces Curaleaf to Remove Thousands of Products From Shelves     

One of the nation’s leading cannabis companies has been forced to remove their medicinal cannabis from New York shelves following an unapproved labeling change. Curaleaf, which sells products in dispensaries across the country, made a labeling change on their products without prior authorization. The cannabis company altered their labels to feature the “dry weight” of cannabis versus New York’s approved “wet weight.”

Other than the product removal from the market, ramifications for the error in New York may still be looming; however, some are viewing these issues as further evidence that a federal, universal labeling system for cannabis products is overdue. A universal labeling system not only would save companies money from complying with every state’s specific and varying rules, but it would also greatly improve public safety if consumers knew they could trust familiar symbols and potency standards in other jurisdictions.