New Cannabis Policy Coming Jan 1, Explained by the Changemakers Behind It

New cannabis policy coming Jan 1, explained by the changemakers behind it

Tina Ulman and Dani Baranowski from the Chamber of Cannabis break down changes coming soon for cannabis consumers and businesses.

Positive changes are coming to the Nevada cannabis scene, thanks to the recent passing of Senate Bill 277. The legislation, set to take effect on January 1, 2024, promises positive outcomes for medical patients, recreational users, and cannabis businesses alike. Among these changes are increased purchase limits, fewer barriers to entry for ex-felons, dual licenses for dispensaries, lower renewal fees, and allocation of tax revenue for public safety education. 

Bringing the bill to life was a collaborative effort involving dozens of leaders and organizations, coupled with extensive time and dedication. Tina Ulman and Dani Baranowski, President and Vice President of the Chamber of Cannabis respectively, played pivotal roles in driving SB277 forward. The bill adds to the duo’s powerful legislative portfolio, which encompasses significant contributions to passed bills such as the groundbreaking AB341, which legalized cannabis consumption lounges in Nevada. 

With the upcoming changes slated to impact all facets of the cannabis scene (including those hoping to join), we sat down with Tina and Dani to unpack the intricacies of Senate Bill 277

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What were the main focuses of this bill?  

Tina Ulman: The main focus was on driving commerce, restoring justice, and supporting medical patients. One main component that the Chamber really drove in the bill was increasing the daily purchase and possession limit from 1 ounce to 2.5 ounces for flower and 3.5 grams to 7 grams for concentrate. 

We chose that because we felt it would drive revenue across the supply chain, starting with the budtender who has the opportunity to sell more per transaction now and increase their bonus. That, all the way down to the cultivator and producer who can sell more product and drive revenue. It also makes us more competitive against other states and the illicit market, which we all know, there is no limit to how much you can purchase.

How did you settle on those numbers for the purchase limit? 

Dani Baranowski: We looked at other states to see where they were. In Missouri, which is a predominantly red state, you can purchase three ounces of flower, and there are states like Connecticut where it’s five ounces for medical patients. It’s an arbitrary number at the end of the day. They didn’t want to provide too much cannabis because they felt like it would go into the illicit market. 

In the opposition letters, it seems that medical patients feel the limit isn’t enough. What are your thoughts on this? 

Dani Baranowski: It’s unfortunate that in politics and advocacy, sometimes people feel like if they aren’t getting everything they want, then they don’t want to take a step forward. For us, any movement is progress. 

Tina Ulman: This helped our case in some ways because it showed that this was a reasonable amount to take the next step. Would we love it to be five, ten ounces, unlimited? Absolutely. But we have to take the proper steps to get there. 

How will this bill help people convicted of prior felonies? 

Dani Baranowski: Justice is one of the pillars of the Chamber of Cannabis, and when question two passed, there was nothing looking backward and doing any sort of reparations for the failed war on drugs. So for us, we were looking at several components, like how is the industry struggling and how can we support it best?  

One way is to provide a pathway forward, which in this bill is creating fewer barriers to entry to allow ex-offenders a higher chance of working. So SB277 allows those with felonies will petition the CCB to work with licensed cannabis businesses.

Tina Ulman: We don’t believe in more war on drug tactics; those didn’t work. So instead, like Dani said, we want to provide a pathway for former felons or somebody coming from the illicit market. That is ultimately the best defense and how we mitigate that. 

What were some of the oppositions to this? 

Dani Baranowski: When we proposed the bill and began conversations, we wanted it to be anyone with a felony could automatically work. It should be up to the businesses who they employ and not the state to decide that right away. Unfortunately, there were some concerns over what is a felony that is excluded and what’s included.

Personally, I believe if you served your time, then you’re done. We don’t need to continue litigating, and we don’t need to continue punishing. We need to provide better opportunities, and that’s part of creating a more sustainable system and enriching our community as well. 

What was the driving force behind adding the tax allocation to this bill? 

Tina Ulman: That was actually the governor’s input. He really wanted to make sure there was an education component so that people knew why shop at their local dispensary versus the illicit market. 

Was there a fear that the governor would veto the bill? 

Tina Ulman: Of course. A hundred percent, yes. But again, we were diligent to work with the right people on our team to get this across the finish line. We worked with an amazing government affairs office, allies like Will Adler of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition, and just by using our voice and writing letters. 

Governor Joe Lombardo is a former sheriff, so we wanted to make sure that we came correct. There is already a stigma against us like we’re stoners or lazy. So, we made sure to come backed with data by assembling the right team and showing the state what this industry is about. We provide 1.7% of the state’s tax revenue, which is the same amount that California provides. So if you’re looking at that, it is a really impactful percentage to our economy.

What are some of the benefits the public will see because of the dual licenses in this bill? 

Dani Baranowski: So SB277 creates dual licenses for retail dispensaries, meaning operators need to renew just a cannabis license, not a separate medical or recreational license. So, if you’re a medical patient, this will increase your access to stores. What I hope for the producer’s end is that, hopefully, they will see this as an opportunity to create more products now that there will be more customers on the wholesale side. 

Tina Ulman: This is such a great example of how professionals and activists can partner together. We are a grassroots organization, and change starts from the bottom. We want to make sure that people in the industry know that our lawmakers need to hear from us, and a lot of the time, they don’t. We have to put ourselves out there, even if you’ve never gotten involved before and you’re not sure what to say. You have to just put that step forward. And that’s what our organization does is we open those doors, so we couldn’t be happier with how many people were a part of making this happen. 

The last time we spoke was when AB341 passed just over a year ago, has there been increased support for cannabis advocacy since then? 

Tina Ulman: It’s a challenge. The hardest thing is helping people understand how much work goes into what we do and how much support we need. It’s a very long, drawn-out process. We put over 40 hours a week into this volunteer position. But we feel so honored to be here and to have a seat at the table and have our voices heard and our actions executed.

What other things is the Chamber of Cannabis focusing on? 

Dani Baranowski: We are consistently working with our regulators to create sensible cannabis regulations. Cannabis companies have to be able to produce products that people want to buy. So for us, we are talking to the CCB to create better regulations so they know what the consumers want and what the businesses want as well, and we can continue to evolve. 

Tina Ulman: We’ve made over 30 public comments as an association, and we always present concerns and solutions. The regulators need to create reasonable regulations so that people can focus on what matters. Unfortunately, there are some things that the agency is focusing on that aren’t really important. Things like small minor mistakes or paper towels in the bathroom. 

We’re worried about who’s paying who. Are people paying each other? Because we know that’s not always happening. And if you compare it to a gaming license, nobody would ever be able to renew their gaming license if they owe people money. But you can renew your cannabis license if you owe people money.

We’ve seen a lot of layoffs in the last six months, and that is very concerning. It seems it puts people’s safety at risk when they don’t have jobs. And for an agency that’s so concerned about safety, let’s start having them think more high level. That’s our focus outside of policy and then educating, of course, our industry leaders and community.

What is next on your agenda? 

Dani Baranowski: We’re taking one big deep breath and smoking one giant joint now, but at a local level, we are still supporting the consumption lounge movement. There is still a lot of regulatory work in that. We want to make sure the entire world is watching Nevada for consumption lounges. Since we’re doing it first, we want to do it the best, and we have to do it right. We can’t set these people up for failure. So we’re still at city planning meetings, special use permits, making sure that they hear from us and that we can answer their questions. 

Tina Ulman: We also have elections for our board coming up, that’ll be from September 1st through the 15th. We also have a Costume Ball Annual Fundraiser coming up on Saturday, October 21st that is going to be super fun at The Lexi, which is the first cannabis-friendly hotel. And then for next year, we have local and presidential elections, which we’ll be focusing on the local level. Then, in 2025, we go back to the legislators and hopefully get some more bills that’ll help the industry as a whole.                           

To get involved, visit the Chamber of Cannabis’ website and sign up for their newsletter. You can also stay up to date with the Chamber of Cannabis or Tina Ulman and Dani Baranowski by following them on Facebook or Instagram. Lastly, check out Green Cannabis Co. on Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest products, news, and events.