Rite Aid CEO Says Cannabis Could Be Hitting Stores in the Future | TRICHOMES Morning Buzz
Cannabis News Update May 20, 2021
Today in cannabis news: The Montana Governor signs a bill legalizing recreational cannabis in the state; The CEO of the Rite Aid pharmacy chain says there’s a possibility cannabis could be hitting their stores soon, and Texas Senate committees approve bills to lower cannabis concentrate penalties and broaden the state’s hemp policy while also banning delta-8-THC.
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** First up: Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) approved House Bill 701 this week, which establishes and oversees the recreational cannabis framework approved by voters last year via ballot initiative and finances a drug abuse prevention network.
Adults 21 years and older will be able to buy legal cannabis in stores starting in January 2022 according to HB701, and transfers the state’s cannabis program’s management and control from the Department of Public Health and Human Services to the Department of Revenue. Recreational cannabis will have a 20% tax rate, whereas medical cannabis will be taxed at 5%.
It also establishes a specialized drug court to conduct the investigation and potential sentencing adjustment or expunction of previous cannabis prosecutions, which is a primary goal of cannabis activists.
The HEART Fund, a drug recovery initiative that will distribute state funds to local agencies and nonprofits to plug holes in the spectrum of drug dependence treatment programs is also funded by the legislation, which utilizes tax proceeds from the selling of cannabis, estimated to hit tens of millions of dollars annually.
** Next up: Cannabis could be coming to Rite Aid, The Major U.S. pharmacy chain with 2,500 stores in 17 U.S. states.
Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan said that “everyone is looking at the marijuana business.” “There is complexity to that, but (we’re) certainly keeping an eye on it,” she said at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival.
The pharmacy chain, based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, has carried hemp-derived CBD products since 2019.
Donigan said Rite Aid is looking at more homeopathic options in addition to traditional pharmaceuticals. The chain also had all of its pharmacists recertified as integrative pharmacy specialists, she noted.
“Pharmacists are trained in alternative therapies. They are not just trained on traditional medicine,” Donigan said.
She declined to speculate on whether the chain would carry psychedelics.
“We are regulated, so we have to be careful that we follow all the regulations.”
** Last up: A Texas state Senate committee early this week passed a proposal already approved by the House that would dramatically lower the penalty for obtaining cannabis concentrates, submitting it for review by the full chamber. Another state committee approved a hemp policy, but only after including wording restricting delta-8-THC items.
Meanwhile, proponents are pushing for additional measures to broaden the state’s medicinal cannabis framework and decriminalize possession of cannabis more generally.
Although the concentrates bill under consideration is humble in contrast, if passed, it will be the first time since the 1970s that Texas has lowered cannabis punishments.
It seeks to establish a new drug schedule classification for THC-containing items, with reduced punishments than the existing felony designation. Possession of up to two ounces of concentrates, nevertheless, would remain a class B offense punishable by prison sentence.
The Senate Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs Committee approved a measure that would alter the state’s hemp policy, namely adding shipping and testing requirements for hemp items. However, the committee inserted an amendment that would prohibit goods containing more than low concentrations of delta-8-THC, which proponents say would financially hinder the state’s hemp market.