Cannabis Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Push For Sustainability

Flow Kana  bills itself as a branding, marketing and distribution company for small marijuana farmers who grow “sustainable, sun-grown cannabis ... that embraces California values and the small farmer ecosystem.”

In an interview, Steinmetz said the venture will create a facility – called the Flow Cannabis Institute – that will acquire marijuana grown by 80 to 100 farmers in Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties. The facility will then dry, cure and trim the pot and package it for sale at dispensaries with branding labels for Flow Kana and individual farms.

Founder, Michael Steinmetz, feels that there is a big difference between cannabis grown commercially in a warehouse and cannabis grown in the hills. 

Boutique cannabis farmers are grouped together and work collectively using the resources that Flow Kana provides to assist them in going to the market effectively. 

They stand to compete with "big marijuana" next year when recreational Marijuana sales begin in California. 

Recently, the venture spent about $3.5 million to acquire a winery site to convert to a regional processing center for cannabis, which included 87,000 square-feet of industrial space.

 

http://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5671918add08952b058b47c4-1307-981/10988469_1540216099599656_2481263293112028216_o.jpg

 

September 16, 2017 in Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Congressman: "We're completely on our asses" on marijuana

AaaRep. Tom Garrett (R-Va) wants Congress to get off its collective derrière and resolve the problem of marijuana legalization by turning it over to the states.  Earlier this year he introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 (H.R. 1227), which would remove cannabis (both marijuana and hemp) from the Controlled Substances Act entirely and turn regulation over to the states.

It's basically the same bill that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) introduced a couple of years ago.  In a story on PJ MediaGOP Lawmaker on U.S. Pot Policy: ‘We’re Completely on Our Asses,’ he has some blunt words about why he favors the approach:

On Monday, Garrett doubled down on the legislation, explaining the reasons he supports state discretion over medical marijuana policy. After he outlined his reasoning to his constituents, Garrett said at the Cato Institute, “I didn’t have anyone vehemently opposed.”

 

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, bringing it in line with alcohol and tobacco standards. Decriminalization would eliminate a justice system that Garrett believes disproportionately disenfranchises the poor and politically weak, would allow medical professionals rather than the federal government to make key decisions for conditions like epilepsy, and would allow states to realize hundreds of millions of dollars in economic revenue annually.

 

Garrett’s district grows about seven-eighths of all tobacco in Virginia, and his state, Kentucky and Tennessee, he said, could be economic “monsters” in the industry of agricultural hemp due to climate advantages if marijuana were decriminalized.

 

.  .  .

 

“You should be free to do what you so choose to do so long as it’s not an impact on others that’s negative. That’s easy, and that’s who we’re supposed to be as a nation,” he said, adding that the government closest to the people – local government – governs the most efficiently.

 

Garrett, a former prosecutor, described the Republican Party as “AWOL” when it comes to marijuana policy. At the same time, he said that more dangerous drugs like heroin should be treated differently for their rapid and widespread destruction.

 

“I am not pro-marijuana. I’m not anti-marijuana,” he said. “I’m pro-Constitution. I’m pro-liberty. I’m pro-government that enforces its laws.”

 

September 13, 2017 in Drug Policy, Federal Regulation, Legislation, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Manhattan grants leniency for low-level marijuana offenders

AaaManhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., has announced new sentencing guidelines in low-level marijuana possession cases.  As reported in an article in PoliticoNewYork, the change  will be an encouraging step for supporters of immigrant rights and recreational marijuana use.

The new approach is expected to help some immigrants avoid penalties that could lead to deportation and comes amid backlash from municipalities and states over President Donald Trump's immigration policies — specifically the use of courts to identify and deport undocumented immigrants. Vance announced that his office is also working on a policy, to be implemented in the spring, to end prosecutions for low-level drug possession.

 

The sentencing guidelines for marijuana possession in the Manhattan DA's office previously offered a 12-month "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal" — or ACD — on the first offense, where the case is adjourned for 12 months and then dismissed and sealed if the defendant isn’t arrested again.

 

On a second offense, the previous guidelines allowed for the defendant to plea to either a marijuana violation or a disorderly conduct violation.

 

Now the Manhattan DA will offer an ACD for three months for the first offense and an ACD for six months for the second offense.

 

Vance explained the decision in a statement saying that a year is too long to have an open criminal case for a low-level, non-violent offense because it is publicly searchable online and can interfere with applications for college financial aid, housing or a job.

The city expects that some 4,100 individuals a year will be affected by the change. The program is set to being in the Spring of 2018.  Proponents expect that it will mean fewer deportations for low-level possession.

 -- Clarissa Dauphin

September 8, 2017 in Decriminalization, Drug Policy, Law Enforcement, Local Regulation, News, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Illinois legislature hears pros and cons on marijuana legislation

AaaThe Illinois Legislature held hearings this week on a bill that would generally legalized marijuana in the state.  The bill was introduced by two Chicago Democrats, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy. Legislators heard testimony from those for and against legalization.

Advocates for legalization said that doing so would allow marijuana use to be safely regulated. But those against legalization said that it would mean even broader use, particularly by teenagers, and lead to more addiction and less-safe roads.  The Associated Press reports

The plan would require cannabis to be tested and labeled for safety and sold by "legitimate, taxpaying business people" in dispensaries similar to where medical marijuana — legal in Illinois since 2014 — is sold. Like alcohol, sales to anyone younger than 21 would be prohibited.

 

"Right now, anyone can go to a street corner and buy it," Cassidy said. "Drug dealers don't 'card,' but you can't even get into a dispensary if you're under 21."

 

DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin cited statistics that show marijuana can lead to use of stronger narcotics and noted the nation is battling an opioid-abuse epidemic.

 

Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, said when he was a prosecutor, he saw many cases where marijuana use did not lead to abuse of stronger stimulants. "But I never saw one on harder drugs who didn't start on marijuana," Righter added.

 

Neill Franklin, a retired Maryland State Police major who is executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, said Prohibition should have taught the U.S. a lesson about banning such a product.

 

"You cannot regulate any activity that is prohibited," Franklin said. "All you do is drive it underground."

The bills are SB 316 and HB 2353

 

 

September 8, 2017 in Legislation, Recreational Marijuana, Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Which states are next for recreational marijuana?

AaaNew Jersey, Vermont, and Rhode Island--at least according to predictions from John Schroyer at Marijuana Business Daily.  He offers a good rundown of what's up for state legislatures in 2018.

“You will hear about some wins through the legislative process, and there will be wins at the ballot. So I do expect the strong movement forward to continue” in 2018, said Bryan Meltzer, a New York-based attorney who tracks potential new business opportunities and markets for roughly two dozen cannabis industry clients.

Also upbeat about the chances for further legalization victories through legislatures next year are Marijuana Policy Project’s executive director, Rob Kampia, and the Drug Policy Alliance’s senior director of national affairs, Bill Piper.

“I feel pretty bullish overall,” Piper said. “(Legalization efforts are) being driven by strong demand from the public, and all the work that activists – including business owners – are doing at the local level is having an impact.”

Kampia, however, was lukewarm and chose to hedge his bets on potential legislative moves.

“If you ask me about my level of optimism in August of any year, my level of optimism is about the same,” he said. “You maybe pick off one or two, and sometimes you get lucky.”

The piece goes into a good deal of detail and is well worth a read.

 

September 5, 2017 in Legislation, Politics, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Weddings Up in Smoke?

AaaMany projected the decriminalization of marijuana would create several job opportunities. However, the legalized marijuana industry has also created a more unexpected career path for some: marijuana wedding planners. A recent article in Time titled Marijuana Is the New Moneymaker for Wedding Planners explains how the trend is all the new rave at weddings of marijuana minded couples. 

Specialists have launched entire businesses to meet this new wedding-weed demand. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legally sold since 2014, Bec Koop operates cannabis-friendly Irie Wedding & Events and is one of the founders of the Cannabis Wedding Expo, an event where brides and grooms can meet marijuana vendors. Koop offers a litany of wedding services: day-of coordination, overall planning, floral arrangements, cannabis open bars. She also offers consulting services for venues looking to bring in cannabis-inclusive events.

These individuals have not only been employed to complete the typical tasks associated with being wedding planners, but also have diversified their businesses to provide consulting services for those clients looking to allow the use of marijuana in their venues. 

 Taylor Wood

September 3, 2017 in Business, News, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Is it getting too late for small businesses to get into the marijuana business?

AaaThe big money continues to flow into medical and recreational weed.   In new industries, small players can often get a head start and find success before the big players intervene.  Companies like Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Apple were started by a few guys working out of their garages.  ,Many of the countries young cannabis businesses started the same way, but things are changing, according to a story on the  STATnews medical news website, by editor Charles Piller, Big-name tech investors pour millions into marijuana — both medicinal and not.  From the article:

The storied Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark Capital has launched a slew of tech companies: Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, Instagram. Now its search for the next big thing has led it to … pot.

 

Benchmark recently invested $8 million in Hound Labs, a startup here in Oakland that’s developing a device for drivers — and law enforcement — to test whether they’re too buzzed to take the wheel.

 

And that’s just the start. Wealthy investors are pouring tens of millions into the cannabis industry in a bid to capitalize on the gold rush that’s expected when California legalizes recreational marijuana on Jan. 1. They’re backing development of new medicinal products, such as cannabis-infused skin patches; new methods for vaporizing and inhaling; and “budtender” apps like PotBot, which promises to scour 750 strains of cannabis and use lab research, including DNA analysis of each strain, to help customers find the perfect match.

 

Among the noted investors: tech and biotech mogul Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and made a fortune with the cancer drug startup Stemcentrx. Thiel contributed $300,000 to the California ballot campaign that paved the way for legalization. And in the first public endorsement of the industry from a major biotech investor, Thiel’s Founders Fund has sent millions to Privateer Holdings, a Seattle private equity firm that backs research into medical marijuana products, among other cannabis-related ventures.

With big companies already investing millions into marijuana startups, will there be any room for small "mom and pop" type businesses? It seems that big investors are already positioned to out-compete small businesses in this new field, reducing business opportunities for small investors.

-- Zac Artim

September 2, 2017 in Business, Medical Marijuana, News, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Change in Pesticide Testing of Marijuana in Oregon

Oregon FlagThe Oregon Liquor Control Commission recently released new rules related to the pesticide testing of marijuana plants. Starting August 30, 2017, every batch of usable marijuana must be tested directly for pesticides. This is a substantial change from the 2016 rule which stated that one-third of every batch of usable marijuana must be tested for pesticides.  The OLCC offers this brief summary of the major changes:

Producer or grower transferring to retailer:

  • Must be tested for pesticides, moisture content/water activity and potency.

Producer or grower transferring to a processor (making an extract or concentrate):

  • Must be tested for moisture content/water activity unless the processor is processing in a way the uses effective sterilization.

Producer or grower transferring to a processor making a marijuana product (example: tincture made from flower material and alcohol):

  • Must be tested for pesticides and moisture content/water activity.

 The full test of the rules themselves is here.

-- Matthew Richter

September 2, 2017 in Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 17, 2016

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)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

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)

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)

Friday, January 8, 2016

More Push for Private Pot Club Legislation in Colorado

AColorado Springs Gazette: Colorado Springs lawmaker joins marijuana social clubs bill:

    Colorado lawmakers will bring bills next session to deal with unregulated social marijuana clubs where pot is both sold and consumed outside of the state's strict licensing regulations for recreational marijuana.

    Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, confirmed Thursday that he and Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, are working on a bill to address the proliferation of pot clubs. He said many ideas are in the works.

    "The first one is modeling something after what you saw with some of the dry towns, people paying an annual membership or a monthly membership to be part of a social club where they can safely consume cannabis," Singer said.

    . . .

    Singer said a bill that's in the works would likely allow consumption at clubs but ban sales. Singer said statewide guidelines are needed on such clubs, but local municipalities would have final say on the issue.

    He said he's also working to allow consumption on the premises of licensed recreational and medical retail stores. Singer said it'd be similar to alcohol tastings at a craft brewery or winery. He said consumption would have to comply with the clean indoor air act, so likely edibles or vaporizers would be used.

    "Everyone agrees there is a problem," Singer said of the conundrum of where to consume cannabis other than a private home. "Tourists come to Colorado, buy our marijuana, and we say 'by the way don't smoke it in the hotel, don't smoke it on the street, don't smoke it in bars ... and make sure you consume it before you leave the state."

    The 2016 session begins Wednesday. Lawmakers have spent time drafting bills, but none have been officially introduced to receive bill numbers and titles.

January 8, 2016 in Legislation, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marijuana Legalization On the Other Side of the Border(s)

ALegalization proponents often seem to forget that whether or not to permit cannabis sales isn't just a problem of national policy.  Cannabis is illegal very nearly everywhere in the world under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, and any country that legalizes is in violation of its treaty obligations.  Mike Adams of High Times has this very nice piece on the potential treaty problems for Canada and Mexico if they want to pursue legalization.  The whole thing is worth a read.  Some highlights:

    Before Canada, Mexico or any other country can legalize marijuana across their respective nation, governments must first show the United Nations General Assembly later this year how they plan to make it happen while remaining in compliance with several international drug treaties.

    A briefing memo sent to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, suggests that the northern nation will have to divulge a plan to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana without violating three treaties, all of which make the possession and manufacture of the cannabis plant for recreational purposes illegal worldwide. 

    . . .

    International law expert, Errol Mendes, a professor at the University of Ottawa, says that while the Canadian government basically has to tell the tale of “why it feels it has to do it,” the outcome, even if the debate is highly successful, will still result in marijuana legalization taking “many years” before it sees the light of day.

    The three treaties that would need to be amended before Canada or any other nation could effectively end prohibition are: The Single Convention on Narcotic Drug of 1961; The Convention of Psychotropic Substances of 1971; The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

    The note implies that a number of other countries interested in reforming their drug laws will also be forced to plead their case.

    "At the meeting, several South American countries as well as Mexico wish to discuss what they perceive as more effective policy approaches to respond to the current realities of the drug problem, which could include decriminalization/legalization of illicit drugs, harm reduction, and/or a call to renegotiate the international drug control conventions."

January 8, 2016 in International Regulation, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont Governor Announces Support of Legislative Legalization

ADemocratic Governor Peter Shumlin has now decided to back legalization in the Green Mountain State.  In his State of the State message, Shumlin said he'll back legalization for the state, which decriminalized weed in 2013 but does not have a licensed market.  His "key requirements" for a bill from the legislature include:

have protections in place to keep adolescents from buying;

feature taxes modest enough to keep prices low, and hence put black-market sellers out of business;

provide tax revenue to expand addiction prevention programs;

strengthen existing DUI laws;

and finally, ban the sale of edible marijuana products that have proven vexing in Colorado and elsewhere, at least until the state can figure out how to regulate them properly.

Not a bad list, although the "modest" taxation thing runs counter to the "provide tax revenue" goal; any tax significant enough to raise a chunk of money is probably significant enough to keep the black market going.   There will probably be a lot of jockeying for special favors in whatever bill comes out of the legislature, but it will be interesting to see what emerges.

January 8, 2016 in News, Politics, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Shocker: Denver Weed Businesses Increasingly Foisted Onto Poor Areas

1
Marijuana businesses, with their associated smells, traffic, and crime, are not being located in affluent white residential areas. 
That's according to a piece this week in the Denver Post.  Rather, they're being zoned into commercial and industrial areas which is where poor people and minorities disproportionately reside.  The Post has an interactive map, a snapshot of which is above.

    The Denver Post used a city database of more than 600 marijuana business licenses to examine where industry growth has occurred and which neighborhoods faced the biggest transformations.

    Facilities that grow recreational pot have concentrated along the I-70 corridor to the north and the Santa Fe Drive and I-25 corridors to the south, in neighborhoods where residential and light industrial areas mix.

    Other marijuana-related businesses — medical dispensaries, retail outlets and marijuana-infused-product factories — have pocketed along thoroughfares such as Colfax Avenue, Federal Boulevard and Broadway, the analysis shows, and the neighborhoods that surround them.

    "Many low-income neighborhoods are next to industrial sites. That’s just the lay of the land," said Charlie Brown, a former Denver city councilman who led committees that studied and recommended rules on where the businesses could go. "To change the rules today is tricky."

    Neighborhood residents and business leaders say they’ve been concerned since the beginning that Colorado’s new marijuana industry would settle into their backyards and that communities of color and lower incomes would see a disproportionate share of those businesses.

    "You would think we’ve borne our fair share already," said Candi CdeBaca, a member of the Cross Community Coalition in Globeville and longtime resident there. Her home — in the family since her great-grandfather — faces a large marijuana grow operation.

So zoning drives unpleasant uses into poor neighborhoods and away from rich ones?  Who could have seen that coming?

January 7, 2016 in Local Regulation, News, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Marijuana and the Rise of "Executive Federalism"

AOne of the legacies of the Obama Administration is likely to be the degree to which Congress gets increasingly excluded from national policy making. The marijuana legalization situation is an obvious example, where a statute overwhelmingly passed by Congress has been seriously undercut by Administration policy makers without any serious attempt to get the law amended.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2687205

In a forthcoming paper in the Virginia Law Review, Executive Federalism Comes to America, author Jessica Bulman-Pozen (Columbia Law) uses the Administration’s changes in federal marijuana policy as an example of a broader trend that involves a wide range of fields, including health care, environmental law, and education. According to Bulman-Pozen, presidents today find it more difficult to get Congress to enact legislation that they favor, and thus have an irresistible urge to bypass legislation in favor of executive action in cooperation with like-minded states. "[I]ntead of Congress shaping national policy and state-federal relations," she writes, "state and federal executives craft national policy, looking to state sources of authority." In the field of marijuana, for example:

Without an amendment of federal law, then, executive federalism has transformed national drug policy. States have taken the initiative, by adopting new state laws and establishing novel regulatory apparatuses, but negotiations between state and federal officials over the enforcement of state and federal law have ultimately determined the contours of today’s drug law. Such executive federalism has allowed for differences among the states even in the context of the federal Controlled Substances Act: as a matter of federal as well as state law, marijuana today is effectively legal for recreational purposes in four states, legal for medicinal purposes in nineteen additional states, and illegal in the remaining states.

The author finds some merit in this approach, which she notes reflects the current approach used in the European Union, in which policy is set by negotiation among states rather than by an elected assembly. This has, she notes, the advantages of less transparency and more room to horse trade rather than attempt to reach "grand" solutions in Congress.

I suspect that the appeal of this approach will differ depending on how much one likes the current president's agenda -- President Obama's precedents could be a blueprint for later inhabitants of the White House.  Trump or Cruz, anyone?

 

January 6, 2016 in Drug Policy, Federal Regulation, Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Boulder Launches Marijuana Education Initiative

Aaaby Stetson Cromer

Boulder, Colorado, is implementing a marijuana education plan for teenagers, according to a piece on Colorado Daily.com.

A survey last year by the city showed that a substantial majority of teenagers believed that binge drinking was harmful, but that regular use of marijuana was not. The city of plans to make $250,000 available this year to change the perceptions of young people on marijuana.

Those in charge suggest that the program will focus on comprehensive substance abuse education, not just marijuana. The fear is if that you focus on one and not the other then you are telling the kids that one is less harmful than the other. The program wants to instill that the abuse of any substance can be harmful.

Substance abuse, say supporters, rarely happens in isolation and the program will work on helping kids with their “refusal skills.” Those in charge say that the money fueling the program will go to groups that have already been working on substance abuse programs in Boulder. The basic game plan is to fund these groups for three to five years and use an evidenced based approach -- as as opposed to simple scare tactics -- to change public perceptions.  From the article:

    Even as the perception of risk is going down, the 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found that the number of teenagers who had ever tried marijuana declined from 39 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2013 and those who had used it in the last 30 days declined from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013. The decrease was not considered statistically significant. The 2015 Healthy Kids survey is being conducted now, with results to be released in 2016.

    The city may also give money to efforts to educate parents about preventing accidental ingestion of edibles by young children. Hospital admissions for accidental ingestion have increased threefold since recreational marijuana was legalized, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

    Shawn Coleman, a lobbyist who represents marijuana businesses in Boulder, said it's not surprising that the city would put money into education, as that was one of the allowed uses for a special marijuana tax approved by voters in 2013. However, without evidence that teen use is increasing, he would like to see some of that money go for more clerks and inspectors so that it is easier for businesses to renew their licenses and expand their businesses.

    In addition to regular sales tax, Boulder has an additional 3.5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana and a 5 percent excise tax, approved by voters in 2013. The ballot language says that tax revenue should go first for administration and law enforcement resources related to marijuana, then for "treatment, education, responsible use, intervention and monitoring with an emphasis on youth," then for the general fund.

    In 2014, those marijuana-specific taxes generated $1.05 million, and the city had collected $1.6 million as of September of this year, the most recent month for which final sales tax numbers are available.

Stetson Cromer is a 3L student at Texas A&M Law School in Fort Worth.

 

January 5, 2016 in Drug Policy, Edibles, Local Regulation, News, Recreational Marijuana | Permalink | Comments (0)

Investigative Shocker: Big Tobacco Looking at Marijuana Biz

Marlboro MarijuanaWell, it's not exactly man-bites-dog, I suppose.  But an "investigation" by the Daily Caller suggests that tobacco companies -- who already sell paper tubes of dried plant material that provide a drug to users -- are indeed looking to capitalize when cannabis goes legal nationally.  The piece does have some interesting background.  Some highlights:

    Big tobacco, despite its conservative image since the 1970s, has been closely eyeing the marijuana market which venture capitalists regard to be worth $50 billion in annual revenues.

    Tobacco companies are now on a buying spree of e-cigarette companies which produce vaporizers, a smoking device marijuana users prefer because it can offer a higher high.

    . . .

    "We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pick up for people who are bored or depressed," [said a 1970 Philip Morris memo]. . . . "The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying these needs."

    . . .

    [Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford School of Medicine,] said big tobacco has a distinct advantage in marijuana production. "On marijuana, who knows better how to grow a plant that you dry up, wrap up in paper and smoke," he told TheDCNF. "They’re the masters of that worldwide and have wide brand recognition."

    Jonathan Caulkins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz Center and co-director of RAND’s Drug Policy Center, told TheDCNF he believes the tobacco industry is privately looking at the legalization movement.

    "If you’re specifically in the tobacco industry, of course you should be paying great attention," Caulkins said. "It would be unfair to your shareholders if you didn’t at least watch with interest and probably should have several analysts working full time trying to think of different scenarios of how this could play out."

    Dr. Stanton Glantz of the UCSF School of Medicine and the American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor of Tobacco Control told TheDCNF, "They certainly would deny it if you asked them, but the reality is that tobacco firms are very well positioned."

    "They know how to make the product very well and very efficiently," Glantz said. "More important, they know how to engineer the product to maximize the addictive potential, which is something that the current marijuana enterprises probably aren’t as good at."

    . . .

    "Since at least 1970, despite fervent denials, three multinational tobacco companies, Phillip Morris (PM), British American Tobacco (BAT, including its US subsidiary Brown & Williamson [B&W]), and RJ Reynolds (RJR), all have considered manufacturing cigarettes containing cannabis," the UCSF researchers concluded.

    Glantz asserted tobacco companies "have the financial resources, product design technology to optimize puff-by-puff delivery of a psychoactive drug (nicotine), marketing muscle, and political clout to transform the marijuana market."

    As noted previously, big tobacco is buying up American e-cigarette companies with fervor.

. . .

    "For e-cigarettes, there is a huge crossover in e-cigarette use between marijuana and tobacco," Glantz told TheDCNF.

I suspect that a lot of non-tobacco businesses are also interested.  Do we think that Frito-Lay and Kraft, for example, haven't at least thought about the potential of cannabis-infused edibles"? 

January 5, 2016 in Business, Decriminalization, Drug Policy, News, Recreational Marijuana, Stocks | Permalink | Comments (0)