Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Monday, June 20, 2016

This Likely Won't Be The Last Time We See This

News out of Denver:  Security guard at Aurora Green Heart Marijuana Dispensary killed during robbery

In my younger days I was robbed twice while working in convenience stores . . . and we didn't have nearly that much cash lying around.

June 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maryland's Harris Sponsoring MMJ Research Legislation

AThe White House doesn't have much interest in medical marijuana legalization, but support is now coming from a surprising Congressional source.  Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), a physician who strongly opposed D.C.'s legalization last year, is now leading efforts to ease restrictions that prohibit research on marijuana's medicinal benefits.  From the Baltimore Sun:

 

Harris, a Johns Hopkins-trained anesthesiologist who hangs a white lab coat in his waiting room on Capitol Hill, has been working for roughly a year to build a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who want to ease restrictions on marijuana for the purpose of studying its effect on debilitating diseases.

 

Harris and other lawmakers intend to introduce legislation this week to create a less cumbersome process for marijuana researchers seeking Department of Justice approval to work with the drug.

 

Among other changes, the measure would require federal regulators to approve or deny research applications within two months.

 

. . .

 

“Part of my frustration in the entire debate around legalizing medical marijuana is that there really isn’t good scientific evidence about what it’s good for and what it’s not good for,” Harris, who still practices medicine, told The Baltimore Sun. “We really don’t have good data supporting widespread use.”

 

That position is uncontroversial — even some proponents of looser marijuana laws have lamented a lack of peer-reviewed research. The American Medical Association calls for “further adequate and well-controlled studies” in the opening lines of its formal policy on medical marijuana.

 

There is anecdotal evidence that the drug has helped patients who are suffering from seizures, Parkinson’s and other complex conditions. But Harris and others say states are making decisions about which types of disease can be treated with marijuana without a clear sense of the drug’s efficacy.

 

In that sense, both supporters of expanding the use of medical marijuana and opponents can find reasons to back the legislation. Both sides agree that one of the reasons there is so little data is because it’s been difficult for researchers to get their hands on the drug.

June 20, 2016 in Drug Policy, Federal Regulation, Legislation, Medical Marijuana, News, Politics, Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Britain's Times Favors Full Drug Decriminalization

ABritain's largest newspaper has endorsed the recent Royal Society of Public Health proposal to decriminalize all illegal drugs.  Here's a an editorial take on the proposal from The [London] Times:

Would it ever make sense to jail a chain smoker for smoking or an alcoholic for touching drink? On the basis that the answer is no, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is urging the government to decriminalise the personal possession and use of all illegal drugs. This is radical advice, but also sound. Ministers should give it serious consideration.

 

Prosecutions in Britain for small-scale personal cannabis use are already rare. To this extent the new proposals would not do much more than bring the statute book up to date with the status quo in most parts of the country. But the change the RSPH has in mind would go much further. It would push Britain into a small group of countries that have switched from regarding the use of drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy as a health issue rather than one of criminal justice.

 

This is not a switch to be taken lightly, nor one the Home Office under present management is likely to take without sustained pressure from elsewhere in government. Yet the logic behind it and evidence from elsewhere are persuasive. Indeed, the government should be encouraged to think of decriminalisation not as an end in itself but as a first step towards legalising and regulating drugs as it already regulates alcohol and tobacco.

 

The RSPH’s model is a drug decriminalisation initiative in Portugal that is now 15 years old. Since 2001 possession of even hard drugs in Portugal has meant at most a small fine and, more likely, referral to a treatment programme. It does not earn the user a criminal record. More importantly, as of last year the country’s drug-related death rate was three per million citizens compared with ten per million in the Netherlands and 44.6 in Britain. Recreational drug use has not soared, as critics of decriminalisation had feared. HIV infection rates have fallen and the use of so-called legal highs is, according to a study last year, lower than in any other European country.

 

The Times suggests that the ultimate solution is to move to a legal supply chain for all of these drugs -- a step that the authors of the report didn't quite get to.

June 18, 2016 in Decriminalization, International Regulation, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Microsoft To Launch Marijuana Business Program

ALove it or hate it, you've got to agree that nobody's better at chasing a buck than Microsoft.  The tech giant announced today that it is partnering with KIND Financial -- already a leading player in the cannabis business -- to develop a full seed-to-sale system for tracking marijuana plants:  

Three days after investing in LinkedIn Corp. LNKD, -0.14% in a record-setting $26 billion deal, the company announced its first venture into the world of marijuana, striking a partnership with KIND Financial to provide seed-to-sale software to state and local governments for the management of cannabis commerce and distribution.

 

The deal makes Microsoft one of the first major technology companies—and one of the first major publicly traded companies -- to acknowledge the rapid legalization of marijuana, with recreational use already legalized in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C., and up for vote soon in five other major states, including California.

 

Major brands have been mute on the controversial topic, but more have started to show their support as acceptance has spread. Last month, Walgreens Boots Alliance posted a blog touting research showing the benefits of medical marijuana, which is now legal in 24 states.

 

The legal marijuana industry is expected to balloon in coming years. Sales of legalized marijuana are projected to hit $6.7 billion this year, compared with $5.4 billion a year ago, according to industry tracker ArcView Market Research.

 

KIND Financial is using Microsoft’s cloud platform to build out its services for government agencies. According to Marijuana.com., a team at Microsoft will help clients navigate regulations and laws, while tracking legal cannabis commerce and helping to stop product from reaching the black market.

 

In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company “supports government missions to regulate and monitor controlled substances and items, from the Justice Department regulating tobacco and firearms to a state regulating legal cannabis.”

 

June 17, 2016 in Business, News, Stocks | Permalink | Comments (0)

British Health Group Advocates Decriminalizing Pretty Much Everything

ATwo private British public health groups have released a new document calling for decriminalization of marijuana and all other "illegal drugs."  nd The Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health, two organizations whose membership works in the public health field, have released Taking a New Line on Drugs, which recommends that the U.K. take law enforcement out of drug policy at the possession level, while keeping it up against those who manufacture and sell the stuff.  The paper's executive summary sets out the suggestions:

From a public health perspective, the purpose of a good drugs strategy should be to improve and protect the public’s health and wellbeing by preventing and reducing the harm linked to substance use, whilst also balancing any potential medicinal benefits. RSPH is calling for the UK to consider exploring, trialling and testing such an approach, rather than one reliant on the criminal justice system. This could include:

a. Transferring lead responsibility for UK illegal drugs strategy to the Department of Health, and more closely aligning this with alcohol and tobacco strategies.

b. Preventing drug harm through universal Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education in UK schools, with evidence-based drugs education as a mandatory, key component.

c. Creating evidence-based drug harm profiles to supplant the existing classification system in informing drug strategy, enforcement priorities, and public health messaging.

d. Decriminalising personal use and possession of all illegal drugs, and diverting those whose use is problematic into appropriate support and treatment services instead, recognising that criminalising users most often only opens up the risk of further harm to health and wellbeing. Dealers, suppliers and importers of illegal substances would still be actively pursued and prosecuted, while evidence relating to any potential benefits or harm from legal, regulated supply should be kept under review.

e. Tapping into the potential of the wider public health workforce to support individuals to reduce and recover from drug harm.

There's some special pleading here, of course -- turning things over to the health authorities means more money and jobs for health workers.  And decriminalizing without maintaining penalties against those who make and sell the stuff isn't going to do much to harm the criminal gangs involved in the trade.  

Still, an interesting take on the subject.

June 17, 2016 in Decriminalization, Drug Policy, International Regulation, News, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York MMJ Still Going Nowhere

New YorkIF YOU LOOK AT one of those national marijuana legalization maps, New York shows up the same color as California.  But while the latter actually has a medical marijuana program, the former still manages to make sure that as few people as possible get access.  From Doug Berman at MLP&R:  New Drug Policy Alliance report highlights problems with access and data in New York medical marijuana program.

It's hard to say whether this is part of some plan to derail the MMJ program or simply an example  of New York's generally nightmarish business regulatory.  Of course, it could be both.

 

June 17, 2016 in Medical Marijuana, News, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Study: Marijuana May Not Harm Adolescent Brains

AIt's a well-known aphorism that correlation is not the same thing as causation.  A major study last year suggested a correlation between teenage marijuana use and lowered IQ.  A new study has a somewhat different take.  From the Associated Press: Marijuana doesn't cause teens' IQ drop, study says:

    A new analysis is challenging the idea that smoking marijuana during adolescence can lead to declines in intelligence.

 
 

    Instead, the new study says, pot smoking may be merely a symptom of something else that's really responsible for a brainpower effect seen in some previous research.

 

    It's not clear what that other factor is, said Joshua Isen, an author of the analysis. But an adolescent at risk for smoking pot "is probably going to show this IQ drop regardless of whether he or she is actually smoking marijuana," said Isen, a lecturer in psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

 
 

    The study was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Some prior research has led to suggestions that the developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to harm from marijuana.

 
 

    Studying the topic is difficult because children can't ethically be randomly chosen to either take illicit drugs or abstain for years so that their outcomes can be compared. Scientists have to assess what people do on their own.

 
 

    For the new work, the researchers examined data that had been collected for two big U.S. studies of twins. They focused on 3,066 participants who were given a battery of intelligence tests at ages 9 to 12 -- before any of them had used marijuana -- and again at ages 17 to 20.

    They tracked changes in the test scores and studied whether those trajectories were worse for marijuana users than for non-users. Most tests revealed no difference between the two groups, but users did fare more poorly than abstainers in tests of vocabulary and general knowledge.

 
 

    If smoking pot harmed test scores, the researchers reasoned, people who'd smoked more pot should show poorer trends than those who'd smoked less. But that's not what the data revealed. Among users, those who'd smoked more than 30 times or used it daily for more than a six-month stretch didn't do worse.

    The study also looked at 290 pairs of twins in which one had used marijuana and the other had not. The members of each pair had grown up together and 137 sets were identical twins so they shared the same DNA. Again, the pot users did not fare worse than their abstaining twin siblings.

    So, the researchers concluded, pot smoking itself does not appear responsible for declines in test scores. Isen noted, however, that the work says nothing about other potential harmful consequences of smoking marijuana in adolescence.

    Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that while the study has some limitations, it is important and deserves to be followed up with more research. She noted the government has already launched a project to follow about 10,000 children over time to assess the impact of marijuana and other drug use.

    A prominent 2012 study had indicated long-term IQ harm from pot smoking in teenagers. An author of that research said the new work does not conflict with her finding. Terrie Moffitt of Duke University said her study dealt with marijuana use that was far more serious and longer-lasting than the levels reported in the new work.

January 19, 2016 in Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Doug Berman on the Situation in Ohio

Ohio FlagOhio voters knocked out a crony capitalist legalization bill last fall.  So what's happening these days in the Buckeye State?  Over at Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform, Professor Doug Berman offers his thoughts.  The whole piece is worth reading, but here's his summary:

    I am encouraged (though not especially surprised) not only that (1) Ohio's elected officials now understand that they cannot and should no longer ignore the significant interest in marijuana reform amoung the citizenry, but also that (2) some state leaders are trying to co-opt into the effort persons who previously raised tens of millions of dollars to support reform in 2015. Thoughtout the 2015 reform effort in Ohio, I had an inkling that, even if the ResponsibleOhio's full legalization efforts went very badly (and it did), the conversations engendered and the monies raised through the reform effort would garner significant attention from significant public officials.

The good news seems to be that medical marijuana is moving forward in the Republican-dominated legislature.  The bad news is that recreational marijuana might not get off the launching pad this year.

January 19, 2016 in Decriminalization, Drug Policy, Medical Marijuana, News, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seattle MMJ Dispensaries: Move or Risk State Shutdown

1Medical marijuana businesses that have been open for years in Seattle are now, as the result of recent legislation, facing a grim choice.  The state liquor and cannabis board says there are too many applications for cannabis facilities in the city, so existing businesses have been given only 14 days to decide whether to (a) move out of the city, or (b) sign a document recognizing that they may not get licenses and releasing the state from liability.  Seattle's KING-TV is reporting the story:

    The CPC in Georgetown has served thousands of patients since 2010. It works with hospitals, specializing in hard-to-find treatments for chronic disease, cancer, seizures and PTSD.

    "We were always going to do this stuff anyways," founder Jeremy Kaufman said while pointing to new security cameras.

    Kaufman is making a lot of changes to his building, adding new security cameras, constructing new walls, removing doorways, and clearing out his basement filled with cannabis plants. It's all part of applying for a new marijuana retail license, required by legislation that's combining medical and recreational pot under one regulatory system.

    The original deadline gave shop owners until this summer to comply with license application requirements.

    "We were supposed to have until July 1, 2016," Kaufman said. "Then this letter came out last week. It's like, 'Get licensed within 14-days or get out of Seattle. And you're just like Ok..."

    Kaufman and other Seattle dispensaries got a notice from the Liquor and Cannabis Board last week. It says there are too many applicants in Seattle and not enough available licenses. It gives shop owners 14-days to choose an address outside of Seattle, or sign a form acknowledging the risk of remaining in Seattle and losing their business.

    "It's beyond frustrating. It's absolutely beyoind frustrating," Maryam Mirnateghi said.

    Mirnateghi's invested more than a million dollars in her new location, outfitting it with 37 security cameras, all without any guarantee. She's refusing to sign the notice, which forces dispensary owners to assume full liability.

    "To ask my to sign away my rights or lose my application? That's extortion," she said.

    Mayor Murray recently sent a letter to the LCB, asking for a delay on the marijuana retail store cap, writing that "it unfairly disadvantages long-time good actors".

    "I've been open for 6-years," Kaufman said. "I pay taxes. I have employees who bought houses and have kids here."

    Kaufman's now forced with making 6-months of business decisions in 10 days, aware the treatment that he credits with saving his life is now at risk for thousands more.

    "That's it? I'm a patient. I built this place - we built this place - for people like me," he said. "I'm absolutely terrified."

January 19, 2016 in Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Upcoming: Talking About Tribal Marijuana

1The Native American Law Section of the State Bar of Texas is having its annual Native American Law Conference next week, and I'll be speaking there.  The Conference is Friday, January 29, at the Texas Law Center in Austin.  My topic is "Marijuana Legalization for Tribes and the Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country."

There are some other hot-topic issues up for discussion at the conference, including Native American rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ethics issues in tribal justice, updates on the Indian Child Welfare Act, and a panel on issues around use of Native American mascots.

You can get more info by clicking on the link above.

 

January 18, 2016 in Tribal Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

This is a very bad chart for legalization proponents

Aaa

It's from a new study of youth marijuana use released by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.  I haven't been able to go over the report in enough depth to assess the validity of the data, and it will be good to see some number-crunchers go at it.  But assuming it's anything like correct, it gives anti-legalization folks some serious ammunition: youth marijuana use is much higher in states with MMJ programs and (potentially) highest of all in states with recreational weed.

This chart is the one that happened to catch my attention, but the whole thing is full of data.  Anybody interested in legalization needs to read it and start thinking about how to respond. 

January 18, 2016 in Drug Policy, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How to Become a Cannabis Attorney

AaYou know that cannabis is getting legitimate when the American Bar Association starts touting it as a great practice field for new lawyers.  The new edition of the ABA's Law Practice Today has an introduction to the topic by Neil Juneja, a founder of GleamLaw, one of the nation's first cannabis-focused law firms.  It's a pretty good place to start.

    Cannabis is the new hot topic of conversation, moving from the smoky dorm to the board room. The green rush is on, and, and as any gold rush of the past, there is good business in selling the picks and shovels to those seeking their fortunes. Coupled with the most difficult legal market for aspiring and new attorneys in the nation’s history, marijuana law is also a hot topic in law schools and in CLEs.

    Marijuana is now legal for consenting adults in four states and Washington DC. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states at the time this article was published. The international community is following suit, with an increasing number of nations decriminalizing or outright legalizing cannabis. Colorado now brings in more tax dollars from marijuana than from liquor. The momentum is clear; no matter which party conquers the 2016 presidential election, cannabis is here to stay.

    While this nascent industry is growing at a pace unparalleled since the dot-com era, many large law firms refuse to service the clientele because the federal government considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

January 17, 2016 in Legal Education, Legal Ethics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

And now for something different . . . .

AaWe naturally tend to focus on pro-legalization stuff here.  But it's important to remember that there are still intelligent and well-meaning folks who strongly oppose legalization.  One of them is Frank Rapier, a 30-year Treasury Department agent who now runs the Appalachia HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area).  He's got a new op-ed in the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, entitled Don’t fall for the lies from Big Marijuana

    In response to the column, “Stop waste of money, lives in criminalizing pot,” let me say that I agree with Sen. Perry B. Clark on one point: America is being bamboozled.

    We are being bamboozled by Big Marijuana.

    For several years now, we have witnessed a highly financed, deceptive campaign to legalize marijuana. It started with the premise that marijuana is medicine. Marijuana may contain medical components, but so does opium. We don’t smoke opium to get the pain-killing effects of morphine. How could you dose smoked marijuana?

    While it is entirely possible that the marijuana plant does contain elements that would be useful in treating specific disorders, there needs to be research and a process of approval like all potentially helpful medicines. The Food and Drug Administration performs this procedure daily. Let’s give that a shot before we can get serious about marijuana as medicine.

    Big Marijuana has lied for years in stating that the prisons are filled with people arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    With the current opiate addiction crisis in Kentucky and other states, law enforcement is too busy to bother with casual marijuana users. A survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 0.7 percent of all state inmates were behind bars for marijuana possession only (with many pleading down from more serious crimes).

    In total, one-tenth of one percent (0.1 percent) of all state prisoners in the U.S. were marijuana-possession offenders with no prior sentences, according to a 1999 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    Colorado’s passage of a responsible adult marijuana-use law has also resulted in other issues.

    A report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area compared studies of the two-year average of marijuana use during full legalization (2013-14) to the two-year average just prior to legalization (2011-12).

    The latest results show Colorado youth, aged 12 to 17 years old, ranked No. 1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from No. 4. Their usage was 74 percent higher than the national average. College-aged adults, 18 to 25, increased 17 percent. This was 62 percent higher than the national average.

    Legalization is about one thing and one thing only: Making a small number of business people very rich. There is indeed some bamboozling going on. Kentuckians shouldn’t fall for legalizing marijuana.


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article54768230.html#storylink=cpy

 

January 16, 2016 in Decriminalization, Drug Policy, News, Politics, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ohio House Launces MMJ Task Force

1After a big loss at the November ballot box, the legalization movement in Ohio is rebounding.  The Republican-dominated Ohio House of Representatives has named a Task Force to investigate legalization of medical marijuana in the Buckeye State: 

    Ohio House leaders have named a task force of state lawmakers, business group leaders, law enforcement groups and others to study the issue of medical marijuana.

    In announcing the panel, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said Thursday the group's goal is to take a holistic approach to studying the issue.

    State lawmakers have been examining potential legislative steps to address medical marijuana after voters rejected a broad ballot initiative this past November. That proposal sought to legalize pot for medical and recreational use.

    Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, said the initiative sparked debate on whether medical marijuana should be banned.

    Polls suggest Ohio voters back legalized medical marijuana.

    Task force members include former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz and advocates for medical marijuana.

    Meanwhile, backers of an effort to purge old pot-related convictions in Ohio have withdrawn their proposal from consideration by state lawmakers.

    An attorney for the supporters of the so-called Fresh Start Act wrote in a letter Monday to legislative leaders that his clients wanted the proposed law dropped from consideration and don't intend to try to get the measure before voters.

    Rosenberger announced the details of the letter at a press conference Thursday evening. His office released a copy to the media.

    The proposal had called for reviewing sentences and expunging criminal records for people with previous marijuana convictions if their actions would no longer be considered illegal.

    The ResponsibleOhio campaign had advanced the plan; it was behind the legalization initiative that voters rejected.

 

January 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"PTSD-afflicted veteran deprived of his 5 children over medical marijuana use"

AaThis kind of stuff is really, really sad.  From the Denver Post:

    Raymond Schwab, an honorably discharged veteran, moved to Colorado last year to get treated for post-traumatic stress and chronic pain with medical marijuana.

    He didn't expect Kansas would take his children in return.

    . . .

    He and his wife, Amelia, say Kansas took the five youngest of their six children into custody last April, and they've only seen them three times since.

    . . .

    "I don't think what we're doing is illegal, immoral or wrong," Amelia said.

From the article, it appears that Kansas didn't take the children because of the marijuana use -- they were taken into custody after a grandmother reported them as abandoned.  There were also allegations of abuse of the children, which were investigated for several months before being dropped.  After the children were taken into custody, Mr. Schwab moved to Colorado and began using medical marijuana there.  He now wants custody of the minor children again.

The problem now is that Mr. Schwab is admittedly engaging in conduct that both Kansas and the United States consider both dangerous and criminal, and so the question for Kansas officials is whether to release the kids under those circumstances.  The state has said they'll release them when Mr. Schwab demonstrates that he is drug-free for four months, but Mr. Schwab is afraid his condition will worsen without cannabis.

The right result in this case appears to be for Kansas to allow the family to be reunited and to let the Colorado child protection authorities take over the matter.  But one can sympathize with the Kanas authorities as well -- if they really believe that cannabis poses a danger to young children, they would consider themselves irresponsible to release them into that situation.  In other words, they may be wrong, but they're probably not evil.

We'll see more of these situations so long as the Administration and Congress make no attempt to fix the problem.

 

January 15, 2016 in Medical Marijuana, News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Who's the Bigger Cartel Operator, El Chapo or John Hickenlooper?

AaJacob Sullum:  Legalization Lawsuit Shows Conservative Constitutionalists Have Marijuana-Related Memory Loss.   As usual with Mr. Sullum, the whole thing is worth reading.  Some highlights:

    Last week, two days before Mexican authorities recaptured Joaquín Guzmán Loera, a.k.a. El Chapo, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt pointed to another drug lord, this one hiding in plain sight: John Hickenlooper, a.k.a. the governor of Colorado. “The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects, and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing, and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 States in 2014,” Pruitt writes in a Supreme Court brief joined by Nebraska Attorney General Douglas Peterson. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”

    Hickenlooper actually was a drug dealer of sorts before he got into politics, having cofounded Wynkoop Brewing Company, a Denver brewpub, in 1988. But he ended up running the drug trafficking organization described in Pruitt’s brief by accident. He was elected governor two years before Colorado voters decided, against his advice, to legalize marijuana. Pruitt and Peterson are trying to overturn that result, claiming that it hurt Oklahoma and Nebraska by encouraging an influx of Colorado cannabis. Their argument shows how readily some conservative Republicans let their anti-pot prejudices override their federalist principles.

This, of course, is true.  But it goes both ways.  What's also interesting, though, is how many folks who believe the federal government has nearly total power over the states -- e.g., Governor Jerry Brown -- let their pro-pot opinions suddenly turn them into John C. Calhoun states-righters with respect to marijuana.  When it comes to guns, for example, President Obama is all for federal control, but when it comes to pot . . . well, not so much.  Mr. Sullum continues:

The Commerce Clause has been the most important excuse for expanding the federal government since the New Deal, and Raich stretched it further than ever before. It is precisely the sort of decision that an avowed federalist like Pruitt, who has resisted Obamacare as an unconstitutional extension of federal power, should condemn. Instead he is relying on it to force his policy preferences on a neighboring state.

To be fair to General Pruitt, however, that's what lawyers do.  Obamacare is constitutional; it's the law.  He's stuck with it.  He's simply arguing that if liberals are going to force conservatives to have federal health care, conservatives are going to force liberals to follow the Controlled Substances Act. 

Perhaps he even thinks that we'll get a limited Commerce Clause only if liberals find that some of the stuff they like gets taken away.  It was U.S. Grant who said, "I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."

January 14, 2016 in Federal Regulation, News, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arizona Legalization Ballot Proposal Nears Signature Requirement

AThis is good news for Arizona weed advocates.  According to the Arizona Republic, "A marijuana legalization campaign is nearing its goal of gathering 150,000 valid signatures to get on the November ballot."  Details:

The  initiative would ask Arizona voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use and establish a network of licensed cannabis shops where sales of the drug would be taxed.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is a few thousand signatures short of gathering the 150,642 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, spokesman Barrett Marson said Wednesday. However, some of those signatures are likely invalid — gathered from people who cannot vote — and the group aims to collect 225,000 signatures, he said.

"Arizonans are clearly excited about this initiative," Marson added.

Many others are not, including one group that has been educating the public about harms of the drug on children and society. The Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has pointed to news articles and statistics and a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey that shows Colorado leads the nation in past-month marijuana use following its legalization of the drug in 2012.

Under the proposed Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, adults 21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes without obtaining licenses, as long as the plants are in a secure area.

It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado's, where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana.

The initiative also would create a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the "cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana" and would give local governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. It also would establish  a 15 percent tax on retail sales, with proceeds going to fund  education, including full-day kindergarten and public health.

Under the 2016 Arizona initiative language, driving while impaired by marijuana would remain illegal, as would consuming marijuana in public and selling or giving the drug to anyone under 21.

Taxation of the program would pay for the state's cost of implementing and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten programs. And 20 percent would go to the state Department of Health Services for unspecified uses.

Revenue from the taxes could not flow into the state's general fund, which would allow it to be spent for other purposes.

January 14, 2016 in Legislation, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Seattle Relaxes Buffer Zones Around Cannabis Dispensaries

ASome new neighborhoods may be getting marijuana dispensaries in Seattle, thanks to a decision by the City Council to reduce buffer zones around cannabis-related businesses.  A combination of zoning rules and the state's default 1,000-foot buffer zone rules meant that large chunks of the city had no such businesses.  That's changed, as of yesterday:

On Monday, the City Council unanimously set buffer zones for producers and processors at 250 feet.

For retailers, the new buffer will be 250 feet downtown and 500 feet elsewhere in the city.

No more than two pot businesses can be within 1,000 feet of each other.

The 1,000-foot buffer had led to vast areas of the city without marijuana businesses and clusters in areas like SODO, where James Lathrop runs Cannabis City, the first legal marijuana store to open in Seattle.

"We're a block away from the dump. We're here because of this crazy zoning," Lathrop said.

Lathrop was among the marijuana business people who advocated for smaller buffer zones.

Supporters said loosening the buffer zones will help the state's legal marijuana system succeed by competing with the illicit market, and make it more available to visitors.

Some in the industry are also opposed to smaller buffer zones.

They urged the council to slow down, arguing that pot shops in more neighborhoods could lead to public backlash and businesses failing under competition.

 

January 12, 2016 in Business, Local Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oregon Issues Pesticide Regs for Cannabis Growers

AThe OregonianOregon's new list of pesticides OK for marijuana means changes for some growers:

Oregon on Monday issued a list of more than 250 pesticides cannabis growers may be able to use on their crops.

The list represents the first clear guidance from Oregon agriculture officials on what chemicals the state's marijuana industry may use to defeat mites, mold, mildew and other common pests and problems. Top state agriculture officials made clear that the list is a "starting spot" for marijuana growers, who still have to follow pesticide labels.

Lauren Henderson, assistant director of the agency, said regulators combed through more than 12,000 pesticides registered with the state to see which had labels broad enough to include cannabis. Ultimately, the agency came up with about 250 products. The list will be reviewed quarterly, said Henderson.

Brent Kenyon, a longtime cannabis producer and dispensary owner in southern Oregon, said that while he wished marijuana growers had been consulted during the process, he welcomed the technical advice from the state.

"Anytime the state is reaching out and trying to find some guidance instead of ignoring it is a good thing," he said.

January 12, 2016 in State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

OTC Company Buys California Dispensary

AMarketWatch:  Marijuana moves from the black market to the stock market:

Terra Tech [ticker TRTC],  a cannabis-focused agriculture company, announced its acquisition of the California-based Blum Oakland dispensary on Tuesday.

The dispensary — which brought in slightly less than $15 million in revenue in 2015 — has about 48,000 registered patients and sees nearly 1,000 patients a day, according to Terra Tech chief executive Derek Peterson. The acquisition of the storefront includes a "seed-to-sale" fully integrated facility where cannabis is cultivated, processed and sold to patients.

 

January 12, 2016 in Business, Stocks | Permalink | Comments (0)