Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Monday, April 24, 2017

Is the Trump Administration driving a 2017 spike in Colorado marijuana sales?

4-24-17-COTWThe question in the title of this post is prompted by this new Marijuana Business Daily article headlined "Colorado marijuana sales off to strong start in 2017." Here are excerpts:

Colorado’s marijuana industry – one of the most mature in the nation – continues to thrive, posting record-setting sales figures through the first two months of 2017. Combined sales of medical and recreational marijuana in January and February 2017 totaled over $235 million, up 30% from the same period in 2016.

The increase is good news for marijuana businesses in Colorado, although it’s too soon to know if sales will continue at such a strong clip throughout the rest of 2017. While MMJ sales are up slightly so far in 2017, sales of recreational marijuana have increased substantially. January 2017 rec sales were 38% higher compared to January 2016, while February 2017 rec sales were a whopping 48% above those in February 2016. In fact, February 2017 ranks as the second-highest monthly total for recreational marijuana sales in the Colorado program’s history, falling just short of the $88.2 million sold in September 2016.

The sales figures are especially striking because they come amid a time of historically low wholesale marijuana prices, meaning that a 48% increase in sales represents an even larger increase in consumption....

Generally speaking, two market forces fuel rising sales:

•Increased spending by existing users.

•New consumers entering the market.

As for what’s happening in Colorado, it’s likely a mixture of both. Considering the Trump administration’s relatively unfriendly stance toward recreational marijuana, it’s conceivable that more out-of-state visitors are visiting Colorado to stock up on product that may no longer be available in the coming months.

This phenomenon has been on full display in the firearms industry. Gun sales spiked during the Obama administration when many believed their Second Amendment rights were being threatened. But since president Trump took office and the perceived threat has subsided, firearm sales have sharply declined.

For consumers who have stuck to their black-market dealers, lower prices may have persuaded some to finally make the transition to the legal side of the industry. For consumers already purchasing marijuana legally from a rec store or dispensary, lower prices may be encouraging increased consumption.

April 24, 2017 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Heading out to speak at 2017 World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo

Blogging in this space will be light over the next few days because I am about to travel to Pittsburgh to attend and participate in the 2017 World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo.   As this schedule details, I am speaking tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) on a panel titled "Higher Education & Its Role in the Industry." Here is how the panel is previewed:

The cannabis industry is set to create more jobs than established industries like manufacturing by 2020.  However, there is still no clear path to getting involved in the industry or clear educational path.  Students need more courses and curriculum that teaches the fundamentals of the industry.  These include all areas of the industry including business, agriculture, research, etc.  This panel will talk about what courses are currently available for students and what still needs to be offered as well as how higher education can translate their findings into commercial services and products the industry can use to advance itself.

April 21, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Might a crack down on state reforms by the feds actually increase the pace for national marijuana reform?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this Washington Post piece by Paul Waldman headlined "Will Jeff Sessions launch a War on Weed? If so, it could accelerate marijuana legalization." Here are excerpts:

A CBS poll out today shows that 61 percent of Americans favor full legalization, the highest number the poll has recorded, while a Quinnipiac poll puts the number at 60 percent, with an incredible 94 percent saying people ought to be able to get it if their doctors prescribe it (CBS put that figure at 88 percent). Perhaps more important, 71 percent in the CBS poll and 73 percent in the Quinnipiac poll said that the federal government should leave states that have legalized it alone.

But there’s one person who doesn’t agree, and he happens to be the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. government. In fact, if there’s a single thing that Attorney General Jeff Sessions hates more than undocumented immigrants it might just be marijuana, which is why he appears to be planning what amounts to a return to a 1980s-style War on Drugs. We don’t yet know what practical steps Sessions will take, because things are still in the planning stages. But allow me to suggest that in the end, Sessions might actually accelerate the country’s move toward the eventual goal of full legalization....

[T]he big unanswered question is how the attorney general will approach the states that have passed some form of legalization. He could follow the (mostly) hands-off approach that the Obama administration did. Or he could send out federal agents to start shutting down dispensaries across the country. Or he could do something in between. But given his strong views and the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law — which gives him substantial power to go after the burgeoning pot industry in states that have legalized it — it’s hard to believe there isn’t some kind of crackdown coming from the Justice Department.

Sessions may already be having a deterrent effect. The Colorado legislature was all set to pass a law regulating marijuana clubs but backed off after the governor warned that doing so could incur Sessions’s wrath. But in other places, the movement toward legalization continues. Just yesterday, West Virginia’s governor signed a law passed by the legislature to create a medical marijuana system in the state.

Which means that if and when he attacks legal marijuana, Sessions will be going after a movement with extraordinary momentum. And it’s not just the opinion polls; it’s also what’s happening at the ballot box. In 2016, marijuana initiatives were on the ballot in nine states and won in eight of them. California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada legalized marijuana for recreational use, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota passed medical marijuana initiatives. Only Arizona’s recreational measure was narrowly defeated....

So consider this scenario. Sessions initiates some kind of new War on Weed, one that results in lots of splashy headlines, dramatic video of state-licensed businesses being shut down and thoughtful debates about the proper balance between federal and state power. Then the backlash begins. Even many Republicans express their dismay at the Justice Department’s heavy-handed actions. Pressure builds on President Trump (whose comments on the topic have been mostly vague and noncommittal) to rein Sessions in. The controversy energizes cannabis advocates and the voters who agree with them. More and more candidates come out in favor of legalization, or at least a new federal law that would remove the drug from Schedule 1 (which puts it in the same category as heroin) and leave it up to states to decide how to handle it without any federal interference.

Then in 2020, we see the first major-party nominee who advocates full legalization of marijuana. That last part might not happen three years from now (though some past and future nominees have already sponsored bills to allow medical use). But it will eventually, because politicians inevitably follow where the public has moved.

Most of them do, anyway. But on this issue, Sessions is not such a politician — he’s going to pursue that demon weed no matter what the public thinks. We all know where America is heading on this issue, and Sessions may end up pushing us there just a little faster.

I have been saying throughout the semester in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar that a significant marijuana prohibition enforcement effort by the Justice Department might provide the spark in Congress to move forward more seriously and effectively with a variety of proposed federal legislative reforms in this space. For a bunch of reasons, I do not think federal reforms and national legalization are a certainty no matter what AG Sessions decides to do, but I do think there are a lot of interesting elements to what we will see in the marijuana reform space over the next decade and that what AG Sessions seeks to do in this space will be a very important part of the story with lots of unpredictable ripples.

April 21, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Medical Marijuana Laws May Be Associated With A Decline In The Number Of Prescriptions For Medicaid Enrollees"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new study to be published in the journal Health Affairs.  Here is the abstract (with one line emphasized):

In the past twenty years, twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed some form of medical marijuana law.  Using quarterly data on all fee-for-service Medicaid prescriptions in the period 2007–14, we tested the association between those laws and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries.  We found that the use of prescription drugs in fee-for-service Medicaid was lower in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without such laws in five of the nine broad clinical areas we studied.  If all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, we estimated that total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion.  These results are similar to those in a previous study we conducted, regarding the effects of medical marijuana laws on the number of prescriptions within the Medicare population.  Together, the studies suggest that in states with such laws, Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries will fill fewer prescriptions.

April 20, 2017 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Latest polling shows new high for support of marijuana legalization

Support-mj-pollThis new CBS News item, headlined "Support for marijuana legalization at all-time high," reports on a notable new CBS News poll about marijuana policy and reform.  Here are some details:

Sixty-one percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll.  Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use.

Seventy-one percent oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and its use in states that have legalized it, including opposition from most Republicans, Democrats, and independents.

Sixty-five percent think marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs.  And only 23 percent think legalizing marijuana leads to an increase violent crime.

More generally on the topic of drug abuse, 69 percent think that should be treated as an addiction and mental health problem rather than a criminal offense.

The belief that pot should be legal has reached a new high in CBS News polls. Sixty-one percent of Americans now say the it should be, a five-point increase from a year ago. This sentiment has increased each year we’ve measured it since 2013, with the turning point to majority support coming in 2014. Back in 1979, this poll found just 27 percent saying it should be legal.

Those over 65 are the most opposed to legalization, but most under age 65 support it. And women are now as much in favor of legal marijuana as men are; in previous years they were less so.

Many states have legalized pot in some form, and most Americans don’t think the federal government should try to stop its sale and use in those states. Even among those who think marijuana should be illegal, only half think the federal government should get involved with the states.  This sentiment cuts across party lines: Majorities of Republicans (63 percent), Democrats (76 percent), and independents (72 percent) oppose the federal government trying to stop marijuana use in these states.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asserted a connection between marijuana and violent crime, but few Americans see it that way: just 23 percent think legalizing pot increases violent crime, while nearly as many think legal marijuana decreases it.

Generally, most Americans think habitual drug use should be treated as an addiction problem rather than a criminal offense.  Even most Americans who oppose legalizing marijuana think so. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all agree. Most Americans view marijuana in particular as safer than alcohol....

Support for legalization has risen among all age groups – particularly those under 55.  Americans under 35 show the strongest support.  Three in four adults between 18 and 34 support legal marijuana use, as do six in 10 Americans between 35 and 64.  Seniors remain the one age group for whom a majority still think marijuana use should be against the law.

I think especially interesting and notable are the breakdown in these numbers by party affiliation detailed here. Specifically, I find it quite interesting that, according to this poll, Republicans disfavor marijuana legalization by a slight margin (49% to 46%), they still overwhelming support medical marijuana access (87% to 11%) and significantly oppose the federal government taking action to stop marijuana sales in legalization states (63% to 33%). These numbers suggest that any strong Trump Administration push against state legalization efforts will likely engender some backlash among supporters as well as opponents of the President.

April 20, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Why Women Founders Are Ruling Legal Marijuana"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new article from the May 2017 issue of Inc Magazine.  Here is an excerpt:

There's some evidence that women are finding it easier to break into cannabis than other sectors of corporate America. One 2015 survey of 630 marijuana professionals found that women held leadership roles in 36 percent of those businesses, compared with 22 percent of U.S. companies generally, according to the trade publication Marijuana Business Daily, an Inc. 500 company that was co-founded by two women -- Cassandra Farrington and Anne Holland. "I hit that glass ceiling at 100 miles an hour," Farrington, a former Citigroup employee, says. "There's no question this is a huge area for entrepreneurship, and there are so many women fed up with the corporate arena" who find marijuana more appealing.

Like Farrington, many of the women already running marijuana-focused businesses have extensive -- and seemingly boring -- résumés at banks, hedge funds, law firms, consultancies, insurance giants, and other traditional, highly regulated corporations. They not only know how to cut through the red tape -- they welcome it. "I just got up one morning and read all the Colorado rules," shrugs Peggy Moore, who spent 33 years working for United Health Group before becoming the CEO of Denver-based pot bakery Love's Oven. "After dealing with all of the insurance industry's regulations, it wasn't that complicated."

Another lengthier article in the same issue is titled "How the Queen of Legal Weed Is Targeting the Chardonnay Crowd."  Here is how it starts:

Nancy Whiteman still mourns those candied, spice-dusted almonds.  "They were so good. They were so stinking good," she sighs longingly.  And so stinking hard to make -- legally. Because Whiteman, the unlikely co-founder and co-owner of the most successful specialized candy business in Colorado, didn't stop with the curry powder and sugar and salt.  She also dredged those almonds through syrup infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

After all, that's what her seven-year-old company, Wana Brands, makes: treats that can get you really, really high.  The Boulder-based business, which Whiteman runs with her ex-husband, ended last year as the best-selling purveyor of marijuana-infused edibles in its home state of Colorado, according to industry data firm BDS Analytics.

Whiteman may have begun her legal-pot career rummaging through weed-extraction videos on YouTube and testing recipes in a kitchen that was "one step up from an Easy-Bake oven," but Walter White she is not.  Nor is she even Mary-Louise Parker's Nancy Botwin, the housewife-dealer of Weeds.  A 58-year-old mother of two, Whiteman presents as more sales rep than drug lord: russet hair in a sensible bob, a sly sense of humor tucked beneath a Northeastern reserve, and the professionally tidy business casual of someone who started her career in suits.  "Whatever your stereotype might be of somebody in the marijuana business, I'm probably not it," Whiteman, a former insurance marketing executive, wryly acknowledges. "I think a lot of times people are just surprised."

April 19, 2017 in Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

West Virginia officially becomes first new medical marijuana state of the Trump era

St small 215x235-pad 210x230 f8f8f8.lite-1As reported in this local article, headlined "WV governor signs medical marijuana into law," the latest state to reform its marijuana laws is the Mountain State.  Here are the details:

Gov. Jim Justice signed a comprehensive medical marijuana bill into law Wednesday, wrapping up what might have been the legislative underdog story of the session. Justice signed Senate Bill 386, which will put a medical cannabis commission into place to begin forming the regulatory infrastructure for the Bureau of Public Health to begin issuing marijuana patient ID cards on July 1, 2019.

This action makes West Virginia the 29th state to legalize medical marijuana.

Surrounded by Democratic legislators who helped push the bill through, Justice said the law will help those who are suffering obtain access to a treatment approved by the medical community. “Our doctors are telling us, this is a pathway to help those people [who are suffering],” Justice said. “How could you turn your back on that? How could you turn your back on a loved one who is really suffering? To have a vehicle to be able to help, and to turn our back on it and say, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ To me, that’s not listening to the wise, and it’s not being charitable and caring, like we ought to be.”

The new law will allow patients suffering from 16 conditions to apply for a card with permission from their doctor, who must be approved to recommend marijuana by the Board of Public Health. Acceptable conditions include terminal illnesses, cancer, HIV or AIDS and Parkinson’s disease.

The law does not allow patients to grow or smoke marijuana. Only a licensed dispensary can issue marijuana in the form of pills, oils, topicals (gels, creams, ointments), tincture, liquid, dermal patch or non-whole plant forms for administration through a vaporizer or nebulizer.

Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, who sponsored the legislation and served as its point man, said he thinks the bill will help ease suffering of fellow veterans who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and simultaneously cut into the state’s opioid crisis, by taking money out of illegal drug dealers’ pockets.

Sporting a cannabis leaf-shaped pin on the breast of his jacket, Nitro resident Rusty Williams watched Justice sign the bill. Williams survived a late-stage diagnosis of testicular cancer. He said his doctors prescribed him aggressive doses of chemotherapy to combat the cancer, and he used illegally purchased marijuana to help him handle the treatments....

Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, said that, although some might be frustrated by the gap between the bill’s passage versus its 2019 full activation date, it will be a good thing for the state to not botch such a promising, although complex, initiative. He said other states have tried to shoot the moon and get things rolling prematurely, and it only served to their detriment. Woelfel also pointed out that the Legislature can revisit the bill in any session down the road and add to it, as needed.

April 19, 2017 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Examining interaction between the marijuana legalization and crime rates, accidents and other feared harms

I am saddened by reality that this week is the final week of my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, which means it will be the last week of student presentations. One presentation this week is exploring "the interaction between the legalization of marijuana and crime rates, crash fatalities, etc." Here are the links this student has assembled in preparation for his presentation this coming week:

Empirical article published in March 2014, "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006"

Cato policy analysis published in September 2016, "Dose of Reality: The Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations" Empirical article published in December 2015,

"Impacts of Changing Marijuana Policies on Alcohol Use in the United States"

April 19, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Homeland Security Secretary Kelly speaks sternly about marijuana after some prior moderate comments

DownloadAs reported in this NBC News article, the head of the Department of Homeland Security made a few notable statements about federal marijuana policy and practice in a speech today.  Here are the details:

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Tuesday called marijuana a "gateway drug" and vowed his agency will uphold federal laws against its possession, a sterner message than he delivered on the topic just last week.

"Let me be clear about marijuana. It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs," Kelly said during a speech about his agency's mission at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. "Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the United States Congress, we in DHS, along with the rest of the federal government, are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books," he added.

Kelly made headlines on Sunday when he told NBC News' Chuck Todd that "marijuana is not a factor in the drug war" during an interview on "Meet The Press."

That was a noticeably softer tone than other members of President Donald Trump's administration have taken, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an open opponent of legal weed. And Kelly seemed to go out of his way Tuesday to say marijuana is not something the administration takes lightly.

"When marijuana is found at aviation checkpoints and baggage screening, TSA personnel will also take appropriate action," Kelly said. "Finally, ICE will continue to use marijuana possession, distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build their deportation, removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens."

April 18, 2017 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Denver Post rounds up series of "Perspectives on Cannabis"

The Denver Post, as highlighted here, this past weekend had a section of its "Sunday Perspective" focused on marijuana reform. Included among the section's contributors were "former Cannabist editor Ricardo Baca, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, L’Eagle grow and dispensary owner Amy Andrle, Kayvan Khalatbari co-founder of Denver Relief Consulting, and former teachers turned science-based marijuana curriculum developers Sarah Grippa and Molly Lotz." Here are the headlines of the pieces with links:

April 17, 2017 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Another look at banking problems and alternatives for the marijuana industry

As noted in this prior post, this past week a student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar presented on the law, policies and practices surrounding banking activities for the marijuana industry.  But this issue is so big and important, another student also spent the semester looking at this topic, and here are additional resources he sent my way in preparation for his coming coverage of the issue in class:

My paper is on the intersection of the marijuana laws and the banking industry but also details attempted risk management and solutions via technology. Technologies such as cryptocurrencies and third party payment apps such as Paypal and Venmo have all toed the line of anti-money laundering statutes.  Likewise, I address third party apps that perform due diligence for the banking industry by way of seed to sale tracking systems and point of sale systems thereby reducing risk for the banks.

The following are articles relevant to my paper.  I did not want to send FinCEN guidance or the 2014 Cole Memo as they have already been posted here.

An article detailing the secrecy of big banks working with the marijuana industry and suggesting that the banking woes may not be as deep rooted as once thought.

A link to podcasts from past Crypto Cannabis Conferences discussing cryptocurrencies in the marijuana industry.

An article which details one of the many tech startups attempting to reduce risk for banks by performing due diligence in compliance with FinCEN guidance and the Cole memos.

An article describing an alternative payment system for the marijuana industry

April 14, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bill to legalize marijuana unveiled in Canada

OhcanadaAs reported in this National Post piece, headlined "Liberals introduce long-awaited bills to legalize marijuana by July 2018," legislative leaders in Canada have finally put forward a full bill to legalize marijuana in that nation.  Here are the basics: 

The federal Liberal government has finally launched its long-awaited effort to legalize recreational marijuana, setting in motion a host of sweeping policy changes for public safety and health across Canada.

The suite of bills — which would establish 18 as the minimum legal age to buy pot — was introduced in the House of Commons by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

A government news release promises a “strict legal framework” for the production, sale, distribution and possession of pot, and says selling cannabis to a minor would for the first time become a specific criminal offence.

It also promises “significant penalties” for those who engage young Canadians in “cannabis-related offences” and a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving....

The bills are sure to come under heavy scrutiny in the coming weeks and months as Ottawa and the provinces and territories hash out the finer jurisdictional details of major issues like distribution and law enforcement.  Health Minister Jane Philpott says criminalizing cannabis has not deterred use among young people, noting products like alcohol and tobacco are legally available with restrictions.

Once passed, the Liberal bills introduced today would make Canada the first member of the G7 to legalize marijuana for recreational use across the country.

There are lots of reasons this is a very big deal, though I do not know enough about Canadian politics to predict with any certainty whether it is really likely that marijuana will be fully legal and a consumer product in just a little over a year.  Particulars aside, if Canada is truly on a certain path to full legalization in the not-too-distinct future, I think marijuana-reform-friendly states that border Canada – particularly Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont – have yet another reason to seriously consider full legalization in order to avoid the likelihood of lots of US citizens heading up north to get legal marijuana. 

April 13, 2017 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, International Marijuana Laws and Policies, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Looking back at the history of marijuana law and policy and perceptions

A student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this week is helping the class look back on the law, policies and perceptions surrounding marijuana many decades ago. Here are the links this student has assembled in preparation for his presentation this coming week:

Text of the Marijuana Tax of 1937

Summary and Conclusions of LaGaurdia Report on Marijuana Effects

Article showing the depictions of Reefer Madness throughout the 20th Century

Hemp for Victory short movie sponsored by the U.S. Government

April 10, 2017 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States | Permalink | Comments (0)

Looking at banking issues and reform for marijuana industry

A student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is looking closely at the law, policies and practices surrounding banking activities for the marijuana industry, and he has provided for class reading the following links in preparation for his presentation this coming week:

April 10, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Examining ethical marijuana law advertising

A student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is looking closely at the laws and policies surrounding marijuana advertising, and he has provided for class reading the following cases (and one video) in preparation for his presentation this coming week:

1.  Va. State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Va. Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976).

2.  Cent. Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 447 U.S. 557 (1980).

3.  FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 161 (2000).

4.  "First Ever Marijuana TV Ad" Video

April 9, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

West Virginia seemingly poised to become latest medical marijuana state (and first new one in the Trump era)

West-va-750x420This new local article, headlined "Medical marijuana bill passes WV House; Senate likely to concur," reports on some interesting and notable marijuana reform news out of the Mountain State.  Here are the basic details:

A bill that would permit the use of medical marijuana in West Virginia was approved by the House of Delegates on Tuesday.

The bill (SB 386), which would have created a West Virginia Cannabis Commission charged with overseeing medical marijuana regulation in the state, passed the Senate last week.On Monday, the House of Delegates amended the bill so that instead of a commission, it would create an advisory board within the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health. They also made several other changes.

In a 51-48 vote, delegates approved an amendment by Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer and House Judiciary chairman, that would prohibit smoking, ban people from growing their own plants, and charge $100,000 annual fees for growers and processors. That fee was cut in half during a late-night floor session.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said this afternoon that the Senate plans to concur with the House’s changes. Jacque Bland, spokeswoman for the Senate, said that likely won’t occur until Wednesday. “That’s our expectation, unless we find something that is just totally out of bounds in this bill,” Carmichael said. “We trust the House of Delegates and Chairman Shott’s work on this piece of legislation.”

If it occurs, the governor would still need to sign the bill for it to become law, and no patient identification cards would be issued until July of 2019....

The bill defines serious health conditions as cancer, HIV or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures, sickle cell anemia, severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proven ineffective, or having a medical prognosis of one year or less.

The bureau would regulate medical cannabis in the state, review physician applications, issue permits to growers, dispensaries and processors, maintain an electronic database to include “activities and information relating to medical cannabis organizations certifications and identification cards issued, practitioner registration and electronic tracking of all medical cannabis,” and maintain a directory of patients and caregivers to whom it has issued ID cards.

April 4, 2017 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Governors of first four legalization states write to AG Sessions and Secretary Mnuchin in support of Cole Memo

As reported in this Huffington Post piece, "Governors from four states where recreational marijuana is legal for adult use sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday urging them to respect state cannabis laws." The full relatively brief letter is available at this link, and here are some key passages:

As governors of states that have legalized marijuana in some form, we ask the Trump Administration to engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.  The balance struck by the 2013 Department of Justice Cole Memorandum (Cole Memo) has been indispensable – providing the necessary framework for state regulatory programs centered on public safety and health protections.

We understand you and others in the administration have some concerns regarding marijuana.  We sympathize, as many of us expressed apprehensions before our states adopted current laws.  As governors, we have committed to implementing the will of our citizens and have worked cooperatively with our legislatures to establish robust regulatory structures that prioritize public health and public safety, reduce inequitable incarceration and expand our economies.

The Cole Memo and the related Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance provide the foundation for state regulatory systems and are vital to maintaining control over marijuana in our states. Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences. Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.  Likewise, without the FinCEN guidance, financial institutions will be less willing to provide services to marijuana-related businesses.  This would force industry participants to be even more cash reliant, posing safety risks both to the public and to state regulators conducting enforcement activity.  The Cole Memo and FinCEN guidance strike a reasonable balance between allowing the states to enact reasonable regulations and the federal government’s interest in controlling some of the collateral consequences of legalization.

April 3, 2017 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Examining distinctive state laws on home growing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes

Among the many exciting topics for student presentations in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming wee is a look at "recent trends and varying approaches in allowing/restricting home growing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes and the plant count and possession limitations these laws impose." As preparation for this topic, my student has provided these links for background reading:

Law review article: Ryan Stoa, “Marijuana Appellations: The Case for Cannabicultural Designations of Origins.”

A research paper expounding upon the possible iterations of a post-legalization marijuana market in the United States. Predictions concerning the form of a future market and the potential regulatory hurdles in the way. The possibility of the marijuana market evolving similarly to the wine industry and avoiding the widespread concern with “Big Marijuana."

Press article: "Costs of Growing Cannabis at Home vs. Buying Bud at a Dispensary"

A helpful guide comparing the costs to a consumer of either cultivating their own marijuana or simply purchasing marijuana from a dispensary.

Press article: "16 people indicted in massive home-grown marijuana operation across Denver area"

A recent article from Denver concerning home grown marijuana entering into the black market.

NORML map with links

A helpful visual summary of which states have adopted medical/recreational marijuana policies.

Press article: "Home Cannabis Cultivation Laws by State"

A quick reference to the laws of each state that has legalized marijuana for recreational or medical purposes with regard to home cultivation.

April 3, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Looking at realities and regulations for CBD oil and other cannabis products without THC

One of my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar students is taking a deep dive into products and processes involving cannabis without THC, giving particular attention to the "murky issues relating to CBD oil and the extraction of oils from all cannaboids." For this topic, my student has provided for posting here "some interesting articles about CBD oil, hemp and the implications for the USDA and FDA [that reveal] some conflicting reports about legality, organic certification and other important matters" as background for his presentation:

USDA Instruction on Organic Certification of Industrial Hemp Production

Press article: "USDA Announces Domestic Grown Hemp Can’t Be Labelled Organic"

Press release: "CBDRx Receives USDA Organic Certification for Its Hemp"

FDA report: "2016 Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products"

Press article: "New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal"

April 3, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Diving into issues presented by marijuana in the workplace

As readers know from recent posts, my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar students deep into their class presentations and we have a big final few weeks afoot. One student this coming week is looking at labor and employment law issues, and here are the materials this student has prepared for background on this topic:

Briefing on "Legal Issues: Marijuana In The Workplace"

Article on "Marijuana Use and Its Impact on Workplace Safety and Productivity"

Article on "Medical Marijuana and the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know Now"

Press report on "Colorado Supreme Court says companies can fire workers for using medical marijuana in their off-hours"

April 2, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)