Saturday, September 16, 2017
In Iowa, elected executives are advising the State's Department of Public Health to refrain from corroborating with its neighboring states to obtain cannabis oil. Barbara Rodriguez reports on how the lack of federal enforcement is causing confusion among states concerning how to implement medical marijuana legislation, according to an article in The Des Moines Register:
An unusual attempt by Iowa to work with another state to transport medical marijuana oil across state lines is on hold amid legal concerns it could invite scrutiny from the federal government.
The Iowa Attorney General's office advised the Iowa Department of Public Health this month that it should not implement a small section in Iowa's new medical marijuana law that requires the state, before the end of the year, to license up to two "out-of-state" dispensaries from a bordering state. Those entities would have been expected to bring cannabis oil into Iowa in order to sell it.
That's considered illegal under federal law, which categorizes marijuana as a type of controlled substance that is prohibited from being moved across state lines. But during the final hours of the legislative session in April, some Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature suggested adding the language to open the door for a partnership with a neighboring state like Minnesota.
The development is not expected to impact other provisions in the law that call for establishing an in-state production system for cannabis oil by the end of 2018. Still, some GOP lawmakers expressed frustration with the news because the provision was also aimed at creating more immediate access to cannabis oil. Currently, Iowans have no way of getting the product within the state.
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, noted in a statement that no matter what the Legislature had decided, the state still would have been in violation of federal law.
"As I've said before, the federal government needs to act on this issue or let the states do their work," she said, adding, "The out-of-state distributors are the quickest way to supply sick Iowans with a product that doctors say could be beneficial. If that provision doesn't work out, then people will have to wait another year, and that's disappointing."
Possessing, manufacturing and selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In 2013, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum offering assurance that states could proceed with medical marijuana programs without fear of federal prosecution, in part by avoiding agreements that would move marijuana from one state to another.
Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said in an email that if a state program authorizes or encourages diversion from one state to another, "it is possible that state's program may come under increased scrutiny from the federal government." He said the halt on implementation should remain "until the federal government provides further guidance regarding state medical marijuana programs."
The out-of-state dispensaries provision is tucked into the second-to-last page of a 20-page law, and is separate from requirements that Iowa license up to two cannabis oil manufacturers in Iowa and up to five dispensaries to sell it in-state. The oil would be supplied in Iowa by the end of 2018. Smoking marijuana remains prohibited.
Fear of federal enforcement against states who have legalized marijuana in some form is not new, but rather has steadily increased since the Trump administration assumed office in 2016. Although the Obama administration issued memorandums assuring states with medical marijuana regimes that they would be free from scrutiny if they followed certain standards, that may not be the case much longer. The United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, firmly believes marijuana is a dangerous drug and claims he will reconsider existing marijuana policies.
Assuming nothing changes in President Trump's federal enforcement of marijuana, Iowa's proposal to work with neighboring states presents a potential problem, even under the Obama administration's prosecutorial guidelines. The Cole II Memo stated that states could avoid federal intervention of its medical marijuana regime if they followed eight federal priorities. The pertinent priority here being to prevent the diversion of marijuana from legal states to illegal ones.
While Iowa's proposal only includes corroborating with its direct neighbors who have also legalized medical marijuana, the transportation of marijuana products across state lines is considered interstate commerce, thus invoking Congress' authority under the Constitution's Commerce Clause.
Therefore, Iowa's proposal not only clearly contradicts Congress' Controlled Substance Act, but may also trigger judicial review because Congress has clearly preempted the transfer of interstate marijuana. By proposing such a law, Iowa's legislature is inviting scrutiny from all three branches of government, something marijuana advocates attempt to avoid whenever possible.
In California a new state regulation will require dispensaries to shut down operations by Dec. 15 or risk not being able to get the new license required to operate as a dispensary and distribute "medical marijuana". But what will happen to the patients who depend on dispensaries to get their medically necessary marijuana? The State believes that three months is enough time for patients to get in contact with a caregiver that will meet their needs. Will this new regulation better protect these patients? Aileen Wingblad gives a brief insight to this subject.
The state’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board on Tuesday said the December deadline gives ample time for dispensaries to wind down service, and that it will begin that day to accept applications for licenses – required under a new regulatory system aimed at increasing oversight and taxing the industry.
The new licensing regulations list “provisioning centers” for the sale of medical marijuana, and the licensing process asks applicants to disclose any marijuana-related business they’ve been involved in, such as a dispensary. Harns said background investigations – paid for with non-refundable application fees – will be conducted before licenses are issued. Falsifying information is cause for being denied a license. Criminal history can also affect eligibility.
Until licenses are issued, registered patients will have to grow their own marijuana or obtain it from caregivers, as allowed under existing law.
Read the full article.
A New York mother possessed amounts of marijuana not even enough to be a misdemeanor. Prosecutors did not pursue charges, but Child Protective Services (“CPS”) decided it was enough to remove her children. Click here to read the full story from 2011.
A Michigan couple was state-licensed to use and grow medical marijuana for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; however, CPS removed their six-month-old daughter, sending her to live with a grandmother a few hours away. The couple got their daughter back, but only under CPS supervision. Click here to read the full story from 2013.
Much more tragic, is the Texas couple whose toddler was removed from her home when CPS learned that the couple was smoking marijuana at night after their daughter went to bed. In a state-licensed foster home the toddler was beaten to death by her angry foster mother. Click here to read the full story from 2013.
As marijuana laws become more relaxed, the injustices to families at the hand of state agencies are on the rise. If CPS’s policies were updated to be consistent with state law and societal values, these stories likely would not have happened.
The public policy behind custody battles and CPS investigations is the best interest and welfare of the child. Up until recent years, society has generally viewed marijuana use as bad, and our agencies’ policies and state laws have reflected those societal values, as rules and laws should. Now, however, things have changed. Marijuana is decriminalized in over half of the states, and many states are adopting some form of legal marijuana use. Increasingly, marijuana use is no longer associated with danger or even substandard morals. As such, keeping the best interest of children in mind, it is time to rethink our standards as to agency rules and state laws to keep up with changing marijuana laws.
Suggested remedies for the problem include reform to the standard for assessing both recreational and medical marijuana use in the home and including “parent-protective” language in state marijuana laws and policies. (Family Law & Cannabis Alliance). However, these resolutions will take time to evolve. In the meantime, families are being affected in very real ways. If you find yourself in a situation like this, a great resource is the Family Law & Cannabis Alliance website. The website includes cannabis research related to family issues and a page on how to handle CPS.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program has hit a few bumps on the road so far, and is currently battling lawsuits claiming that regulators improperly granted licenses to the winning applicants. But Philadelphia lawyer Steven Schain of Hobart Law Group is offering praise and support for regulators who, he says, "got it right." He offers his take on things in a new piece on the Cannabis Business Executive site, Lessons Learned From the First Phase of Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Program. A sample:
Ignoring the program’s primary objective of swiftly providing sick people with medicine, the first phase license denials and awards triggered a tidal wave of malevolence to wash across Pennsylvania.
Seduced by their own PowerPoint deck’s glitter, both high and mighty and hardscrabble applicants received a rude awakening in the form of both denied applications and modest scoring. Stunned by their lack of sway and convinced that shenanigans prevented fair consideration, lawsuits ranging from “striking Pennsylvania marijuana law as unconstitutional” to “disqualifying successful applicants for alleged wrongdoing in other jurisdictions” are being loudly threatened across all 67 counties.
Although the program allows each applicant to receive a de-briefing on how respective applications were scored, and for unsuccessful applicants to appeal their scoring, here is what the first phase results revealed:
▪ Life ain’t fair. Mirroring Arizona’s 2016 dispensary permit results (in which 750 applicants sought 31 licenses), each program application had less than 1 in 11 chance of winning. Further, because the program omits any residency requirement, Pennsylvanians, whom had never grown, processed or sold marijuana, had even less of a chance.
▪ Big marijuana carried the day. Approximately 70 percent of the winning applicants were affiliated with growers, processors and dispensaries already operating in multiple legalized marijuana jurisdictions. Beyond being able to demonstrate a history of being a transparent, compliant and profitable marijuana-related business, winning applications were crafted by experts at submitting winning applications, which is distinct from growing, processing and selling marijuana.
▪ Consultant means failed grower. Like a rube swindled by a suddenly exiting town carny, seemingly sophisticated Pennsylvanians got suckered by consultants with shiny trade show booths leveraging claims of “Colorado or California growing experience” and selling fanciful and proprietary lighting, fertilizing and yield optimization techniques. Also, enjoying handsome windfalls at 400 unsuccessful applicants’ expense were lobbyistS and juiced-in lawyers offering connectivity to politicos with jazzy titles and zero decision-making process impact.
▪ Follow the rules closely. Does your diversity definition encompass armed forces veterans or involve third-party certification? Regardless, because Pennsylvania’s marijuana law defines a diverse group as a certified disadvantaged, minority-owned, women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned or veteran-owned small business, the program’s unique criteria disqualified many seemingly qualified applicants.
▪ Pennsylvania’s Program Is Built to Last. Perceived inequities aside, the DOH and the program got it right. Beyond meeting every self-set deadline and blitzing through 500 applications in 90 days, licenses were generally awarded to the best-funded applicants with proven track records of success. In an exceedingly volatile industry hinging upon timing, adequacy of funding, and fullness of regulatory compliance, in the first phase the DOH has positioned the program for its greatest likelihood of swift success.
Read the whole thing.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Manhattan 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
Thursday, September 7, 2017
In 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the Texas Compassionate Use Act. This Act, among other things, allows individuals with intractable epilepsy to obtain cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a form of low-THC cannabis. The Act gives authority to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), to regulate and award dispensary licenses.
Now, nearly two years later, Texas has issued its first medical marijuana license to the company Cansortium Texas. Two more proposed growers had their applications accepted previously and it is expected that those two will also be awarded licenses in the next days or weeks. Though these new developments might seem like a step in the right direction, there have been many critics of the Act and the stringent regulations imposed by DPS. Bob Sechler of the Austin American-Statesman, explores what lies ahead for the industry in Texas:
The Texas licenses won’t equate to quick profits, however, and success in Texas over the long haul might depend as much on the Legislature as on business acumen. Cansortium and the two other companies expected to operate in Texas are facing strict state regulations that limit their customer bases solely to patients with intractable epilepsy and that constrain how they formulate their products — on top of investment costs running into the millions of dollars.
“It is safe to say that it is a challenging market,” said Morris Denton, chief executive of Compassionate Cultivation.
Denton said an initial goal for his company will be to prove that medical marijuana can be dispensed safely in Texas and that it is beneficial, with the aim of persuading state leaders to make it available to patients suffering from a wider variety of ailments in coming years.
Hidalgo said Cansortium considers the market among Texas patients suffering from intractable epilepsy potentially lucrative enough and didn’t opt to expand into the state because of the prospect that additional medical conditions eventually will be made eligible. Still, he said he considers it likely that future discussions among the state’s leaders regarding medical marijuana will revolve around “what conditions and for what reasons they are considering expanding” its availability.
“I think it remains to be seen what will happen (in Texas), but the evidence is out there,” Hidalgo said.
Proponents in Texas already are anticipating a major push during the next regular session of the Legislature in 2019 to try to increase patient access to medical cannabis. Some industry experts have said the Texas market for medical cannabis could rival California’s estimated $2.8 billion market, if restrictions are loosened and it becomes more widely available.
As things stand, each of the three companies selected for licenses is required to pay a $488,520 fee upon final approval, followed by a license renewal fee of $318,511 in two years if they want to stay in business. The fees are designed to cover the cost of regulating the new industry, state officials have said.
. . .
The Compassionate Use Act legalized the production and sale of cannabidiol, an oil derived from the cannabis plant that doesn’t produce a high, by the state-licensed dispensaries. But the law limits use of the oil, commonly called CBD, to certain patients suffering from intractable epilepsy — and only if they have a doctor’s prescription for it and already have tried two conventional drug treatments that proved to be ineffective.
Observers of the burgeoning legal marijuana industry in the U.S. say the new Texas law is significantly more restrictive than medical marijuana laws in the 29 other states that have enacted them.
“We have not yet seen any other state try to launch a medical cannabis program based solely on a single condition,” said John Kagia, executive vice president for industry analytics at New Frontier Data, a cannabis market research firm based in Washington. “Under the (Texas) law as it is currently structured, it is going to remain a fairly narrow, constrained market. It is going to be a relatively limited business environment.”
The Epilepsy Foundation Texas has pegged the number of Texans with intractable epilepsy at about 150,000.
But only a fraction are expected to meet the Compassionate Use Act’s eligibility requirements for CBD, want to try it and know a doctor willing to write a prescription for it.
New Frontier Data hasn’t yet estimated the monetary value of the Texas medical cannabis market under the new law, but Kagia said it’s just a sliver of what it could be.
-- Victoria Olivarez
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
New 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.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
A Connecticut act that protects applicants and employees who are prescribed medical marijuana is not preempted by federal law according to a recent federal district court ruling. The opinion is Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Opeprating Co., LLC, No. 3:16-cv-01938 (JAM) )D. Conn. Aug. 8, 2017). In the opinion, Judge Jeffrey Meyer held that federal law does not preempt the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA), which prohibits employers from firing or refusing to hire employees who use medical marijuana. Over at the National Law Review, lawyer Sara J. Robertson of Polsinelli PC gives a good rundown of the case.
Plaintiff Katelin Noffsinger was prescribed a daily dose of Marinol (capsulated synthetic marijuana) to treat symptoms arising from post-traumatic stress disorder, which she took only at night. Bride Brook, a nursing home, extended an offer of employment to Noffsinger, contingent upon passage of a drug test. Noffsinger disclosed her Marinol prescription to Bride Brook, and, as anticipated, tested positive for marijuana metabolites. Thereafter, Bride Brook rescinded her job offer. Noffsinger filed a lawsuit against Bride Brook alleging a violation of PUMA’s anti-discrimination provision.
[The court . . . held that PUMA did not create an “actual conflict” with any of the three federal statutes. First, the [Controlled Substances Act] did not preempt PUMA because the CSA does not prohibit employers from hiring or employing individuals who use illegal drugs. Second, the ADA did not preempt PUMA because, while the ADA allows employers to prohibit the illegal use of drugs in the workplace, PUMA does not authorize individuals to use marijuana while at work, and the ADA does not address use of drugs outside of the workplace. Finally, the FDCA did not preempt PUMA because the FDCA does not regulate employment, but PUMA does.
The Noffsinger decision creates further complications for employers that conduct drug testing for marijuana, particularly in states that have enacted laws that protect medical marijuana patients from adverse employment actions based solely on their use of medical marijuana. While the Noffsinger decision is not binding on other courts, courts in other jurisdictions with similar medical marijuana statutes might follow its lead. Therefore, employers may wish to reevaluate policies that either automatically deny employment to, or require termination of, an employee following a positive drug test resulting from the employee’s use of prescribed medical marijuana.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
The 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
Friday, September 1, 2017
In Nevada, gambling regulators are refusing to collaborate with the marijuana industry. Taking a harsh stand, the Nevada Gaming Commission disclaimed that there will be no place for marijuana in Nevada casinos as long as the federal government views its consumption and possession as a felony, according to a piece in the Insurance Journal:
Commissioners said the reputation of the gaming industry is at stake and there needs to be clear separation.
“On one hand you have the gaming industry and on the other hand you have the marijuana industry … The two shall not meet,”
Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said.
Commissioners did, however, spend more than an hour discussing what Alamo said would be the least controversial aspects of potentially bringing marijuana into casino resorts – third-party and business associations between licensees and individuals and companies involved in the marijuana industry.
That aspect was shot down, though. No votes were taken, but commissioners unanimously concluded that licensees should be discouraged from hosting shows or conferences that promote the use, sale, cultivation or distribution of marijuana.
Licensees also shouldn’t maintain business relationships with marijuana companies, including landlord-tenant arrangements.
Commissioners also said licensees should not receive financing from or provide financing to an individual, entity or establishment that sells, cultivates or distributes marijuana.
The plight of those who have been convicted for various marijuana related crimes is being used to argue why marijuana should be legalized but these new laws don't seem to be helping the problem. A recent article in the Washington Post e explores how these new laws are only helping further institutional racism: Want to See Proof of Institutional Racism? Let Weed Open Your Eyes.
The disparities in Maryland and the District were among the highest in the nation, with blacks up to eight times more likely than whites to be arrested.
There were 145 applicants for licenses to grow medical marijuana. Despite a state law requiring racial diversity in licensing, none of the 15 firms selected to start growing marijuana this summer are owned by African Americans. Turns out, the commission set up to award the licenses decided to ignore racial diversity in favor of “geographic diversity,” which just happened to produce the all-white outcome.
In a one-year period since legalization took effect, arrests for smoking marijuana in public jumped from 142 to 400, according to D.C. police data. If the trend holds, there will be at least as many — if not more — arrests this year. Arrests for selling marijuana have also tripled, from 80 in 2015 to 220 in 2016, police said
Friday, June 17, 2016
IF 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.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Ohio 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.
Medical 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."
Monday, January 18, 2016
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.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
We 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.
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.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Jacob 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."
This 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.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
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.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Back in the 1820s it took can-do New Yorkers only 8 years to dig the Erie Canal. That was an immense 363-mile waterway from Albany to Buffalo, dug with shovels, fitted with 36 ship locks, that tied the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and ensured that New York would become the commercial capital of the young nation.
With any luck, the rollout of New York's extremely modest medical marijuana program will take less time than that. But given the events of this week, it's possible I'm wrong about that. Here's a cringe-inducing story about the official non-opening of two Syracuse locations which were slated to open this week. This is my favorite part :
Even if the two dispensaries here did open today, it's unlikely they would have many customers. That's because the drug will only be available to patients with 10 serious conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDs. And patients cannot get the drug unless they are approved by a doctor registered with the state. The health department says about 150 doctors statewide have registered with the medical marijuana program, but it has not released their names.
Read the italicized part. Really? I mean, seriously, really? After 18 months, a state with 20 million people and a $1 trillion economy has managed to authorize 150 doctors -- and you can't get their names without a FOIA request?
The CEO of one of the new dispensaries is putting a game face on. "If there is a registered patient in Syracuse," she said, "we will be ready to serve them.
Sorry, I'm making fun of this because otherwise I'd be throwing stuff at the office wall.