Ohio has legalized recreational cannabis. Click HERE to learn more about cannabis business opportunities in Ohio.

Cannabis News Roundup: 11/27/23 - 12/10/23

Minnesota, Ohio, and Illinois are advancing their cannabis and hemp policies with significant new developments. Minnesota has opened applications for its 2024 Industrial Hemp Program, focusing on cultivation and processing with specific regulations. Ohio’s Issue 2, a law approved by voters that legalizes the possession and cultivation of marijuana, has been enacted. Currently, lawmakers are considering amendments to further refine and improve this legislation. Illinois is revising its cannabis licensing policies to enhance market equity, including eliminating application fees for transporters. These initiatives reflect a dynamic evolution in the cannabis and hemp landscape across these states.

Minnesota’s Industrial Hemp Program Applications Now Open

On December 4th, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) opened online applications for the 2024 Industrial Hemp Program. Individuals and businesses interested in growing or processing hemp in Minnesota must apply by April 30, 2024. The license, valid for the calendar year 2024, requires first-time applicants and authorized representatives to undergo a criminal background check and submit fingerprints. The program focuses exclusively on industrial hemp, distinct from adult-use or medical cannabis, and is not for hemp-derived cannabinoid products. The MDA will conduct pre-harvest THC testing for each hemp lot, and continue random inspections of processor locations. The grower license costs a minimum of $400, and a processing license starts at $500. Those growing hemp indoors past December 31, 2023, must renew their license before year-end. You can learn more about the current cannabis program in Minnesota here

Ohio’s Cannabis Legalization and Legislative Response

On December 7th, Ohio’s voter-approved Issue 2, legalizing the possession and home-cultivation of marijuana for adults, took effect. This significant move, passed by 57% of Ohio voters, allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or 15 grams of marijuana extract, and grow up to six plants for personal use. However, Ohio lawmakers, led by State Representative Gary Click, are proposing changes to this bill. The proposed amendments aim to allow municipalities to ban cannabis operations and home cultivation, and to modify how cannabis tax revenues are allocated. The bill also suggests the creation of new funds, including the Law Enforcement Cannabis Training Fund, and a reorganization of the Substance Abuse Fund. These legislative efforts reflect a dynamic shift in Ohio’s cannabis policy, balancing voter-approved legalization with regulatory and fiscal adjustments. You can learn more about Ohio’s existing cannabis program here.

Illinois to Implement Changes in Cannabis Licensing Policies

On December 8th, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker approved a legislative move to revise cannabis licensing policies, a significant development in the state’s cannabis industry. This initiative, following the legalization of adult cannabis sales in 2020, aims to enhance equity within the market. Senate Bill 1559 focuses on modifying the regulations for cannabis growers and transporters. Key features of the bill include the elimination of application fees for transporters from January 2024 to January 2027. Garnering support from lawmakers and cannabis groups, this bill is seen as a crucial step in addressing the licensing imbalance and backlog issues in the industry. The Illinois Cannabis Business Association and Cannabis Equity Illinois have expressed their support, emphasizing the need for structural adjustments in licensing distribution. This legislative change, marking Illinois as the third-largest cannabis market in the nation, is expected to streamline the industry’s operation and open up new opportunities. For more information on Illinois’ cannabis program, click here.

Keep an eye out for our email updates throughout the year, and we’ll be sure to let you know about any changes in 2023 as they occur. Cannaspire can assist you in determining your next steps, obtaining a license, complying with regulations, and other relevant cannabis business services. Please visit this page for further details.