Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Monday, August 20, 2018

Taking the problem of marijuana addiction seriously and thinking seriously about dynamic policy responses

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"Early Evidence on Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Traffic Fatalities"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Benjamin Hansen, Keaton Miller and Caroline Weber. Here is its abstract:

Over the last few years, marijuana has become legally available for recreational use to roughly a quarter of Americans.  Policy makers have long expressed concerns about the substantial external costs of alcohol, and similar costs could come with the liberalization of marijuana policy.  Indeed, the fraction of fatal accidents in which at least one driver tested positive for THC has increased nationwide by an average of 10 percent from 2013 to 2016.  For Colorado and Washington, both of which legalized marijuana in 2014, these increases were 92 percent and 28 percent, respectively.  However, identifying a causal effect is difficult due to the presence of significant confounding factors.

We test for a causal effect of marijuana legalization on traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington with a synthetic control approach using records on fatal traffic accidents from 2000-2016. We find the synthetic control groups saw similar changes in marijuana-related, alcohol-related and overall traffic fatality rates despite not legalizing recreational marijuana.

Some prior related posts:

"Medical or Recreational Marijuana and Drugged Driving"

NHTSA releases "Marijuana-Impaired Driving A Report to Congress"

"Too Stoned to Drive? The question is trickier than you’d think for police and the courts to answer."

Examining issues surrounding "Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana"

Still more on drugged driving laws and marijuana

"The April 20 Cannabis Celebration and Fatal Traffic Crashes in the United States"

March 20, 2018 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Looking into challenges facing communities of color in the marijuana industry

The final student presentation this year in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is looking at how communities of color are participating in the marijuana industry. Specifically, as the student has put it, the topic involves "an exploration of the hurdles communities of colors face when trying to break into the marijuana industry, and a discussion of the policy considerations we ought to engage when developing a framework for this new and emerging industry." Here are links for background reading on this topic:

Drug Policy Alliance, "Race and the Drug War"

"Rigged game: inequality on the rise in legal pot industry; How people of color are blocked from Washington’s legal pot marketplace"

"Minorities, punished most by war on drugs, underrepresented in legal pot"

"Pioneering women in cannabis industry losing ground, author says"

"Battling the racial roadblocks to joining the legalized marijuana trade"

"In politically charged D.C., cannabis is a cottage industry"

December 3, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Looking at the environmental impact of illegal marijuana cultivation and import of legalization

As my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is approaching its final class, a final set of students are scheduled to deliver presentations on the marijuana-related topics of their choosing.  One such student has decided to "focus on the environmental impact of illegal marijuana cultivation, and how/why legalization can mitigate these effects." 

Here are readings she has suggested as background on this topic:

5 Reasons Legalizing Pot Is Good for the Planet

Everything you need to know about pot's environmental impact on the planet

December 2, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Examining banking challenges in the marijuana industry

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Still more on drugged driving laws and marijuana

As mentioned in this prior post, one student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is this week giving a presentation focused on scientific studies concerning driving under the influence of marijuana.  Another set of students also have taken up this topic, although it appears they are focused more on existing laws concerning drugged driving.  Here are links they have provided as background reading:

Ohio Drugged Driving (via NORML)

"How to Beat a Marijuana DUI"

"UI studies impact of marijuana on driving: First-of-its-kind study at University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator shows how marijuana and marijuana with alcohol impact driving"

"DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI: What Do They Mean?"

"The Confusing Science of Stoned Driving"

"Evidence of Inactive Drug Metabolites in DUI Cases: Using a Proximate Cause Analysis to Fill the Evidentiary Gap between Prior Drug Use and Driving under the Influence"

 

November 29, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Exploring how federal illegality / state legality impacts applicability of other laws to marijuana businesses

As my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is hitting its homestretch, the last group of students are continuing to deliver great presentations on the marijuana-related topics of their choosing. One student scheduled for the next class has been "looking into the way the federal illegality / state legality of marijuana affects applicability of other laws to marijuana businesses":

For example, will a court enforce a contract to grow, provide, or produce marijuana, even though courts will not usually enforce contracts for illegal activities? Can an injured worker be reimbursed for medical marijuana expenses through workers' compensation? Can federal agencies assert jurisdiction over businesses in an industry that the federal government is itself tasked with eliminating? These are some examples of questions I will attempt to answer during my presentation.

Here are links to recommend reading materials that the student suggested as background on the topic:

"Your Cannabis Contract: Is It Worth The Paper It's Written On?"

"Doing Business with Pot Businesses #2: Cannabis Business Contracts"

"Marijuana Commercial Leases: This Industry Is Different, You Know"

Mann v. Gullickson, No. 15-CV-03630-MEJ, 2016 WL 6473215 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 2, 2016)

Vialpando v. Ben's Auto. Servs., 2014-NMCA-084, 331 P.3d 975 (App. N.M. 2014)

Taylor G. Sachs, The Wellness Approach: Weeding Out Unfair Labor Practices in the Cannabis Industry, 43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 287 (2015)

Greenwood v. Green Leaf Lab LLC, No. 3:17-CV-00415-PK, 2017 WL 3391671 (D. Or. July 13, 2017), report and recommendation adopted, No. 3:17-CV-00415-PK, 2017 WL 3391647 (D. Or. Aug. 7, 2017)

Yahoo Ctr. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., No. 2:16-CV-01397-SVW-SS, 2016 WL 9138061 (C.D. Cal. June 16, 2016)

Barnett v. State Farm Gen. Ins. Co., 200 Cal. App. 4th 536, 132 Cal. Rptr. 3d 742 (2011)

Anh Hung Huynh v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., No. C 12-01574-PSG, 2012 WL 5893482 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 23, 2012)

Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. McDermott, 603 F. App'x 374 (6th Cir. 2015)

United Specialty Ins. Co. v. Barry Inn Realty Inc., 130 F. Supp. 3d 834 (S.D.N.Y. 2015), appeal dismissed (Nov. 17, 2015)

Tracy v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., No. CIV. 11-00487 LEK, 2012 WL 928186 (D. Haw. Mar. 16, 2012)

November 28, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Examining some recent notable marijuana caselaw concerning use rights and restrictions

After the long weekend, my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar turns to its homestretch and the last group of students are delivering presentations on a marijuana-related topic of their choosing. One student for the next class will be looking at three recently decided cases involving marijuana law. As he has explained, he plans to "present the facts and procedural history regarding the case, and an analysis of how the deciding courts ultimately made their decisions." Here are the case citations, with links to articles discussing the decision and other background information:

Arizona v. Maestas, 394 P.3d 21 (Ariz. App. 1st Div. 2017).

People ex rel. Feuer v. Nestdrop, LLC, 245 Cal. App. 4th 664 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2016).

State ex rel. Polk v. Hancock, 347 P.3d 142 (Ariz. 2015).

November 24, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Exploring criminal justice echoes of past marijuana conviction in era of reform

A student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this week in his presentation is addressing what he calls "one narrow evidentiary aspect of a much broader area of study: the effect of legalization on how society and the law treat people with marijuana-related felonies who would not have been guilty of the offense after legalization." As he explains, he will be using California as a case study to "examine the effect of Proposition 64 (The Adult Marijuana Use Act) on Cal. Evid. Code 788, which allows parties to admit criminal records of convicted felons to impeach their credibility." Here are the materials he has suggested for class consumption in this way:

Digestible:

S.E. Smith, Punishing Felons After They've Served Their Time, This Ain't Livin' (Oct. 14, 2013) 

Chris Conrad, Current California Penalties vs. Prop 64: Adult Use of Marijuana Act, Drug Policy Action (2016)

In the Weeds:

J. Richards Couzens & Tricia A. Bigelow, Propositon 64: "Adult Use of Marijuana Act" Resentencing Procedures and Other Selected Provisions, Barrister Press (Nov. 2016) 

Richard S. Frase, Punishment Purposes, 58 Stan. L. Rev. 67 (2005).

Joshua Dressler, Hating Criminals: How Can Something that Feels So Good Be Wrong?, 88 Mich. L. Rev. 1448 (1990).

November 15, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Examining "The Temperance Movement and Its Relevance on Today’s Marijuana Policy"

My students know that I strongly believe legal and social histories are critical topics for anyone and everyone interested in any aspect of criminal justice reform. (I always find astute the William Faulkner quote: "The past is never dead. It's not even past.") Consequently, I am especially excited that one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is making his presentations this week on "The Temperance Movement and Its Relevance on Today’s Marijuana Policy." Here are some of the major sources that the student working on this topic has provided for class consideration:

Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Jack S. Blocker, Did Prohibition Really Work? Alcohol Prohibition as a Public Health Innovation

Harry G. Levine & Craig Reinarman, Lessons from Alcohol Policy for Drug Policy

David F. Musto, The American Experience with Stimulants and Opiates (previous class material that everyone already read)

November 15, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, History of Alcohol Prohibition and Temperance Movements, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A deep dive into the costs of raiding marijuana facilities

As mentioned repeatedly in recent posts, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are making presentations on marijuana-related topics of their choosing. One of the planned student presentations for this week will be exploring the "costs of raids" with "examples from states including Utah, California, and Colorado."  Here is an impressive array of materials/links that the student working on this topic has provided for class consideration:

"The High Cost of Shutting Down One Medical Marijuana Operation"

"Drug cops raid an 81-year-old woman’s garden to take out a single marijuana plant"

"DEA warns of stoned rabbits if Utah passes medical marijuana"

"Marijuana Law Enforcement Cost States An Estimated $3.6 Billion In 2010: ACLU"

"Wednesday's DEA Medical Marijuana Raids May Have Cost Taxpayers $12.3 Million"

"Weed dispensaries find legalization leaves them vulnerable to raids and harassment"

"Obama's War on Pot: In a shocking about-face, the administration has launched a government-wide crackdown on medical marijuana"

"Photos: DEA Raids Downtown Medical Marijuana Dispensary"

"Pot dispensary defenders say Toronto police raids were a 'disproportionate' and costly mistake"

"Canada's marijuana stocks on fire as dispensaries raids continue"

"Feds Spend $1 Million to Shut Down Single Marijuana Dispensary"

"New Report: Marijuana Raids Cost Lives, Cannabis Doesn’t"

"Feds Have Lost to the States on Marijuana: Denver Raids Add Proof"

"What's The Co$t?: The Federal War on Patients"

"The Price of Cannabis: An analysis of how decriminalization and Federal enforcement affect the price of marijuana"

November 8, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A look at marketing and advertising in the marijuana industry

A pair of students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are this coming week to be discussing marketing and advertising in the marijuana industry. In preparation for the discussion, they suggested review of Leafy's "State-by-State Guide to Cannabis Advertising Regulations," which gets started this way:

As the cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, it can feel overwhelming to keep up-to-date with the constantly-changing federal and state regulations.  Advertising regulations are especially strict, as many marketing platforms restrict or outright ban cannabis advertisements due to the substance’s federal status.

We put together a state-by-state guide to cannabis advertising regulations that should help cannabis businesses adhere to the guidelines set forth by both the state they’re operating in as well as any states in which they want to advertise.  

November 7, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Considering the pros and cons of starting a cannabis-related businesses

As mentioned repeatedly in recent posts, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are every week delivering presentations on a marijuana-related topic of their choosing. I am professorially giddy about the large number of presentations planned for the next few weeks, and the first student presentation planned for this coming week aspires to "give insight into the pros and cons of starting a cannabis-related business." And here are links the student provided as background for the discussion:

"US Patent Office Issuing Cannabis Patents To A Growing Market"

"Here Are The Top 5 Financial Leaders In The Cannabis Industry"

"Colorado marijuana shops make $28,000 each on the FIRST DAY of legalized pot"

Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program information on dispensaries

November 7, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Diving into the marijuana reform story in Ohio and at Ohio State

As I mentioned in recent posts, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are now gearing up for and delivering presentations on a marijuana-related topic of their choosing. The second student presentations planned for this this coming week, as described here, is taking a localized look at marijuana reform issues with "background on the marijuana process in Ohio and progress at The Ohio State University [emphasizing] Ohio State’s role specifically."  In addition, this student is bringing a guest speaker, Mr. Thomas Rosenberger, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio.  And here are links the student provided as background for the discussion:

 2015 Ohio Issue 3 Tax Estimations

"Risk of losing federal funding reason why medical marijuana research won’t happen"

H.B. 523 PDF (as enacted)

Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Board - Program Rules

"National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio”

November 2, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 30, 2017

A look at the law and business surrounding industrial hemp

As I mentioned in this recent post, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are now gearing up for and delivering presentations on a marijuana-related topic of their choosing.  The first of the student presentations planned for this this coming week is exploring industrial hemp, and here are the links my student has assembled in preparation for her presentation this coming week:

1)  This is a state-by-state list of statutes regulating industrial hemp.

2)  This is a detailed statement to "inform the public how Federal law applies to activities associated with industrial hemp."

3)  This is the newest bill that has been introduced asking to change the definition of hemp.

4)  This is a market projection based on a report by the Hemp Business Journal that discusses the growth of hemp product sales in the coming years.

October 30, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Examining taxation issues and economic development surrounding the marijuana industry

I am excited to realize and report that, after spending the first half the current semester preparing various presentations for the students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, this week begins the part of the class in which students are to begin making presentations to each other. The first of the student presentation planned for this this coming week is exploring "tax liability."  Here are the links the presenting student has assembled in preparation for his presentation this coming week:

Relevant Internal Revenue Code Provisions:

26 U.S. Code § 280E - Expenditures in connection with the illegal sale of drugs

26 U.S. Code § 162 - Trade or business expenses

26 U.S. Code § 62 - Adjusted gross income defined

Three Short Articles on the Economic Impact of Marijuana

"What If Marijuana Were Legal? Possible Outcomes"

"Dose of Reality: The Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations"

"The Economic Impact of Marijuana Tax and Regulation in Colorado"

October 16, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Website for my Book, Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority

I’ve just launched the official companion website for my new textbook, Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority. The website address is https://my.vanderbilt.edu/marijuanalaw/.

The book website includes:

  • more information about the book, including two sample chapters
  • updates on big post-publication developments in the field, like the 10th Circuit Civil RICO decision and Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act (the latter of which I cross-posted here last week)
  • teaching resources, including syllabi to help in designing and teaching a marijuana law cla
  • in the coming weeks I’ll also be adding materials (cases, articles, etc.) that I couldn’t fit in the book but which might be of interest to readers

I’ll continue to cross-post here on some of the biggest developments in the field (thanks to Doug for the ongoing hospitality!), and I’ll continue to follow this blog with enthusiasm – it’s a terrific resource for anyone interested in the field!  

August 9, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Books, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States"

DUIDinfographic_web1The title of this post is the title of this notable newly updated report with newly updated statistics about the road-safety problems created by drugged driving.  Here is a part of the report's introduction and background:

This report, originally released in September 2015, was prepared by Dr. James Hedlund under contract with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the national association of state and territorial highway safety offices that address behavioral highway-safety issues, including drugimpaired driving.  An open forum on drugged driving at GHSA’s 2014 Annual Meeting noted the need for this type of resource.  Funding was provided by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org).

This revision, also prepared by Dr. Hedlund, updated the report to April 2017.  It includes 34 additional citations, drug-impaired driving data from 2015, state laws as of April 2017, and 15 state programs.

The report was guided by an advisory panel of experts from the states, the research community, and several organizations concerned with impaired driving.  It provides references to research and position papers, especially papers that summarize the research on drugs and driving that have appeared in the last 20 years.  It includes information obtained by GHSA from a survey of state highway safety offices. It does not attempt to be a complete review of the extensive information available on drugs and driving.

Drug-impaired driving is an increasingly critical issue for states and state highway safety offices. In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported that drugs were present in 43% of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result, more frequently than alcohol was present (FARS, 2016).  NHTSA’s 2013–2014 roadside survey found drugs in 22% of all drivers both on weekend nights and on weekday days (Berning et al., 2015).

In particular, marijuana use is increasing.  As of April 2017, marijuana may be used for medical purposes in 29 states and the District of Columbia (NCSL, 2017a).  The most recent is West Virginia, which authorized medical marijuana in April 2017, with use to begin in July 2019.  Recreational use is allowed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia and 13 other states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana (NCSL, 2016). Congress identified drug-impaired driving as a priority in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/fastact/).   This multi-year highway bill directed NHTSA to develop education campaigns to increase public awareness about the dangers associated with drugged driving.   The Act also required the Department of Transportation to study the relationship between marijuana use and driving impairment and to identify effective methods to detect marijuana-impaired drivers.  Legislatures, law enforcement, and highway safety offices in many states are urged to “do something” about drug-impaired driving, but what to do is far from clear.

April 27, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Osbeck and Bromberg's Marijuana Law in a Nutshell"

The title of this post is how West Academic Publishing is promoting its latest notable nutshell publication authored by Mark Osbeck and Howard Bromberg. In part because I think it is near impossible to summarize modern marijuana law in short form, I view this nutshell effort as extraordinary in various respects. And here is how West briefly describes the product:

Concise yet comprehensive text that provides an overview of marijuana law. It discusses important issues pertaining to public policy, legal history, constitutional law, criminal law, and jurisprudence, as well as practical legal issues that concern both marijuana-related businesses and individuals, in areas such as banking, employment, tax, bankruptcy, and child custody.

The text provides in-depth coverage of federal laws governing marijuana, along with an overview of international, state, and local laws relating to marijuana regulation. It also provides an overview of arguments for and against medical and/or recreational legalization, as well as an analysis of how marijuana compares to other potentially harmful substances, both legal and illegal.

April 26, 2017 in Assembled readings on specific topics, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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)