License cap amendment on hold in Capitol
One amendment tacked onto two different bills at the state capitol are garnering lots of interest from the cannabis industry.
SB580 and SB600 both include language that would raise the cap on licenses to award medical marijuana facility licenses to anyone who meets the minimum constitutional requirements. Rep. Ben Baker (R), of district 150 in Newton County, sponsored both amendments and while the amendments were passed in the House, these bills have paused and will not likely be resolved before session ends this Friday.
The amendment seeks to remove the minimum limit the Department of Health and Senior Services set. The Department licensed 338 cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary facilities between December 2019 and January 2020. Over 2,100 facility applications were filed for the spots.
Since the licenses were issued, over 800 license appeals were filed with the Administrative Hearing Commission and a new grassroots movement has emerged supporting the cap being removed.
The Senate has not yet shown signs of favoring the amendment, and it’s entirely possible the amendments – and the underlying bills – will not be passed this session.
While controversial and at the top of mind for several constituents, the bills are not moving – with one bill holding its place on the House calendar and the other laid over. Though the amendments were approved by the House, the chamber has not passed the bill as a whole and it has not progressed to the Senate for approval or compromise.
The upper chamber would need to pass the bill as amended, but both bills lack support in the Senate with the House amendments, which range in topic from the one in question removing the license limit to gun laws.
The amendment was added to legislation the week of May 4 without previously having a public hearing. Seeing no action on either bill after amendment, it is highly unlikely either bills are passed, as amended, by both chambers before the legislature adjourns on Friday, May 15.
If passed, the legislation would likely end up in the courts as the constitution specifically gives the Department of Health and Senior Services authority to set license limits.
Read the amendment below3178H10.60H