Wednesday, October 10, 2018
The title of this post is my weak attempt to make a play on the phrase "Go West, young man" to capture Manifest Destiny concepts combined now with this new AP article about marijuana reform efforts this election year. The AP piece is headlined "Marijuana backers look for Midwest breakthrough in November," and here are excerpts:
Backers of broad marijuana legalization are looking to break through a geographic barrier in November and get their first foothold in the Midwest after a string of election victories in Northeastern and Western states.
Michigan and North Dakota, where voters previously authorized medical marijuana, will decide if the drug should be legal for any adult 21 and older. They would become the 10th and 11th states to legalize so-called recreational marijuana since 2012, lightning speed in political terms.
Meantime, Missouri and Utah will weigh medical marijuana, which is permitted in 31 states after voters in conservative Oklahoma approved such use in June. Even if Utah’s initiative is defeated, a compromise reached last week between advocates and opponents including the Mormon church would have the Legislature legalize medical marijuana.
“We’ve kind of reached a critical mass of acceptance,” said Rebecca Haffajee, a University of Michigan assistant professor of health management and policy. She said the country may be at a “breaking point” where change is inevitable at the federal level because so many states are in conflict with U.S. policy that treats marijuana as a controlled substance like heroin. “Generally, people either find a therapeutic benefit or enjoy the substance and want to do so without the fear of being a criminal for using it,” Haffajee said....
In Michigan, surveys show the public’s receptiveness to marijuana legalization tracks similarly with nationwide polling that finds about 60 percent support, according to Gallup and the Pew Research Center.
The Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project was the driving force behind successful legalization initiatives in other states and has given at least $444,000 for the Michigan ballot drive. “The electorate is recognizing that prohibition doesn’t work. There’s also a growing societal acceptance of marijuana use on a personal level,” said Matthew Schweich, the project’s deputy director. “Our culture has already legalized marijuana. Now it’s a question of, ‘How quickly will the laws catch up?’” added Schweich, also the campaign director for the Michigan legalization effort, known as the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
Midwest voters have considered recreational legalization just once before, in 2015, when Ohio overwhelmingly rejected it. Supporters said the result was more back lash against allowing only certain private investors to control growing facilities than opposition to marijuana.
Proponents of Michigan’s measure say it would align with a new, strong regulatory system for medical marijuana businesses and add roughly $130 million annually in tax revenue, specifically for road repairs, schools and municipalities. Military veterans and retired police officers are among those backing legalization in online ads that were launched Tuesday.
Critics say the Michigan proposal is out of step and cite provisions allowing a possession limit of 2.5 ounces (71 grams) that is higher than many other states and a 16 percent tax rate that is lower. Opponents include chambers of commerce and law enforcement groups along with doctors, the Catholic Church and organizations fighting substance abuse....
In North Dakota, legalization faces an uphill battle. No significant outside supporters have financed the effort, which comes as the state still is setting up a medical marijuana system voters approved by a wide margin two years ago.
The medical marijuana campaign in predominantly Mormon Utah, which has received $293,000 from the Marijuana Policy Project, was jolted last week when Gov. Gary Herbert said he will call lawmakers into a special postelection session to pass a compromise deal into law regardless of how the public vote goes.
Medical marijuana also is on the ballot in Missouri and while the concept has significant support, voters may be confused by its ballot presentation. Supporters gathered enough signatures to place three initiatives before voters. Two would change the state constitution; the third would amend state law. If all three pass, constitutional amendments take precedence over state law, and whichever amendment receives the most votes would overrule the other.
An organizer of one amendment, physician and attorney Brad Bradshaw, said it is unclear if having three initiatives could split supporters so much that some or all of the proposals fail. “A lot of people don’t really even have this on the radar at this point,” he said. “They’re going to walk into the booth to vote and they’re going to see all three of these and say, ‘What the heck?’ You just don’t know how it’s going to play out.”
October 10, 2018 in Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 7, 2018
Though some may tire of the talk of "laboratories of democracy" in the context of marijuana reform, I never tire noticing all the different ways state-level reform efforts are producing different approaches to marijuana laws and policies. And, as explained in this new local piece, headlined "Utah could become the guinea pig for state distribution of medical marijuana," a notable state out west is working toward a novel social and economic experimental approach to marijuana reform. Here are the details:
The medical marijuana agreement that has brought together warring factions in the Proposition 2 debate could make Utah a national test case — the state itself would distribute the cannabis. Sure, other governments have mulled such a system, but they’ve generally shied away from direct involvement in dispensing a substance illegal under federal law, said Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project....
Gov. Gary Herbert, legislative leaders and advocates unveiled the proposed legislation Thursday that Utah lawmakers are expected to take up during a November special session. Herbert described it as a step toward establishing a medical marijuana program that Prop 2 opponents, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, could stomach and pledged to put it before lawmakers next month whether or not the ballot initiative passes.
The consensus plan would create a centralized state pharmacy that would package individual medical cannabis orders and ship them to a local health department for pickup by patients who qualify. Up to five private “medical cannabis pharmacies” would also be allowed under the legislation, but the state-run system would act as an alternative for rural residents who live far from these locations, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said. “Is it unique? Yeah, it’s definitely a unique model,” he said, “and that’s why it could very well become the role model ... for the rest of the country."...
Vickers, who is a pharmacist by profession and helped broker the cannabis accord, said he was comfortable that the state wouldn’t run afoul of federal law by getting involved in the distribution of a Schedule 1 drug. He said he vetted the idea with the Drug Enforcement Administration but wouldn’t disclose who he’d communicated with, saying the conversations were sensitive.
O’Keefe said the Marijuana Policy Project isn’t sure a state-run model will fly in Utah. The closest comparison for it is in Louisiana, where the state designated two public institutions, Louisiana State University and Southern University, as the only legal growers of marijuana plants. The Louisiana program isn’t running yet, she said. But her advocacy group — which has dumped more than $210,000 into the campaign supporting Prop 2 — is satisfied that if Utah’s centralized system fails, the private cannabis pharmacies will keep patients supplied....
Connor Boyack, founder of the libertarian Libertas Institute, said the state-run system was a hotly debated element in the medical cannabis plan. His group was unwilling to rely on the central fill pharmacy alone and insisted the bill allow private pharmacies as a backup. “We don’t have high hopes for [the state-run system]," he said, “but to be fair and in good faith, we’re saying, go for it.”
October 7, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, September 10, 2018
The title of this post is the the of this new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Matt Lamkin. Here is its abstract:
From the opioid epidemic and medical marijuana to abortion restrictions and physician-assisted suicide, disputes over the proper uses of medicine loom large in American life. Nowhere is this conflict more apparent than in federal drug control policy, which is premised on a clear distinction between legitimate “medical” uses and illicit “abuse.” Yet the Controlled Substances Act defines neither of these foundational concepts . While it is tempting to imagine medicine’s scope is limited to treating or preventing disease – rendering nontherapeutic drug use “abuse” – in fact medical practice has always included interventions that are not aimed at healing. This trend has only accelerated as medical practice has become increasingly consumer-oriented. From Adderall to Xanax, patients now routinely seek prescriptions not to treat diagnosable illnesses, but to relieve stress, improve productivity, and otherwise enhance quality of life.
As physicians increasingly prescribe psychoactive drugs to help healthy people obtain desirable mental states, distinguishing legitimate drug use from recreational abuse becomes ever more difficult. Having failed to acknowledge this challenge, the DEA, courts, and scholars have not offered a principled way to make this distinction, rendering drug control policy increasingly incoherent. As a result, doctors face criminal prosecution without clear standards governing prescribing, potentially valuable interventions are arbitrarily barred from the market, and millions seek the benefits of drugs without professional medical guidance to mitigate their risks.
Rather than being limited to therapeutic aims, medicine is better understood as the application of a loosely-defined set of knowledge and interventions that the law entrusts to specific professionals, with accompanying duties to use these tools to benefit patients. Medical practice includes treating and preventing illnesses, but can also include enhancing social and cognitive functioning and promoting the well-being of people whose challenges do not rise to the level of disorders. Discarding a narrow conception of medicine does not require abandoning the enforcement of drug laws or the policing of doctors. But acknowledging the expansiveness of medicine’s domain does argue for clarifying the scope of physicians’ criminal liability and pursuing new strategies for harnessing drugs’ benefits while mitigating their risks.
Friday, September 7, 2018
I could not resist spotlighting this new local article about the slow roll-out of Ohio's medical marijuana program due to its use of a great quote in its headline, "'Cannabis regulated like plutonium': Security measures causing delays in marijuana launch date." Here is some context for the quote:
Ohio's Medical Marijuana program was originally supposed to launch on Sept. 8. For months, it's been clear that delays with licensing and construction for the new facilities meant patients wouldn't be able to get medical products produced in Ohio until months after the initial start date, potentially as late as early 2019.
For an industry that's planning to be the business of the future, required security measures sound like they're from an old-fashioned action movie. Some of the basic procedures medical marijuana companies will have to follow include "unmarked cars, travel point A to point B, randomized routes, manifests before and after delivery," explained Frantz Ward LLP Attorney Tom Haren....
"I think that cannabis is basically regulated like plutonium," said Cleveland School of Cannabis Dean of Instruction and Student Success Jacob Wagner. He says plants are tracked "from seed to sale," making sure nothing gets diverted to the black market. When his school's students graduate and become medical marijuana industry employees, they'll wear state-required badges, and their facilities will be watched around the clock through redundant security systems, accessible to regulators in Columbus.
"It's designed to also make sure that every product is tested, every product is properly packaged and properly labeled before it reaches the end consumer, the patient," said Wagner.
"The worst thing for the program would be some type of criminal activity of some kind of adulterated product making its way into the market and into the hands of the patient," said Haren.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Has anyone tracked how many times and how many ways state medical marijuana programs have been expanded after inception?
The question in the title of this post was my first reaction to the latest reports on the latest states to expand access to medical marijuana. This piece from Connecticut on this front is headlined "State Approves Use Of Medical Marijuana For Stubborn Headaches, 7 Other Conditions," and here are the basics:
Medical marijuana may now be prescribed in Connecticut to treat medication-resistant headaches, severe rheumatoid arthritis and several other new conditions, the Department of Consumer Protection announced Tuesday.
The state legislature’s Regulation Review Committee has updated the state’s medical marijuana program regulations to include eight new conditions for adults and two new conditions for patients under 18.
Today, also brings this similar news from Illinois, under the headline "Rauner signs medical marijuana expansion bill allowing drug as painkiller alternative," starting this way:
A measure that could dramatically expand access to medical marijuana in Illinois — making it available as an opioid painkiller replacement and easing the application process for all who qualify — was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday....
No longer will any applicants have to be fingerprinted and undergo criminal background checks. And those who complete an online application with a doctor’s authorization will get a provisional registration to buy medical cannabis while they wait for state officials to make a final review of their request.
My sense is that this is a common reality that has found expression perhaps multiple time in multiple states: over time, states add qualifying conditions or reduce restriction on access to medical marijuana. I suspect someone somewhere is tracking these developments nationwide, and I think the pace and scope of amendments to state medical marijuana regimes would tell an interesting and significant modern reform story.
August 28, 2018 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, August 13, 2018
The title of this post is the title of this notable new research article forthcoming in the October 2018 issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy. Here is its abstract:
The aim of this research was to determine the association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities.
Repeated cross-sectional data on workplace fatalities at the state-year level were analyzed using a multivariate Poisson regression.
To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Although there is increasing concern that legalizing medical marijuana will make workplaces more dangerous, little is known about the relationship between medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and workplace fatalities.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia for the period 1992–2015.
Workplace fatalities by state and year were obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regression models were adjusted for state demographics, the unemployment rate, state fixed effects, and year fixed effects.
Legalizing medical marijuana was associated with a 19.5% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities among workers aged 25–44 (incident rate ratio [IRR], 0.805; 95% CI, .662–.979). The association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities among workers aged 16–24, although negative, was not statistically significant at conventional levels. The association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities among workers aged 25–44 grew stronger over time. Five years after coming into effect, MMLs were associated with a 33.7% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities (IRR, 0.663; 95% CI, .482–.912). MMLs that listed pain as a qualifying condition or allowed collective cultivation were associated with larger reductions in fatalities among workers aged 25–44 than those that did not.
The results provide evidence that legalizing medical marijuana improved workplace safety for workers aged 25–44. Further investigation is required to determine whether this result is attributable to reductions in the consumption of alcohol and other substances that impair cognitive function, memory, and motor skills.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
A family trip has taken me off line for the last week, and so I feel way behind on marijuana reform news. But, as regular readers know, Marijuana Moment is a consistently informative (pro-reform) marijuana news site. As I was catching up, I thought these stories from the last week on that site were particularly noteworthy:
August 9, 2018 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, July 30, 2018
This local Florida article, headlined "Marijuana booming as state nears 2-year mark," reports on (unsurprising?) medical marijuana realities in the Sunshine State. Here are highlights from the lengthy piece:
More than 100,000 Floridians now can legally take marijuana for medicinal purposes. This milestone, reached in April, is one of many signs that Florida’s young marijuana industry is booming as the state approaches the two-year anniversary of voters legalizing medical pot.
But issues remain: Some patients complain that the Florida Department of Health’s rules create unfair barriers for patients. They can’t smoke their marijuana or grow their own, for example. They also gripe about the patient approval process and the cost of medication. Companies eager to jump into the marijuana business are waiting for the state to issue additional licenses required by law upon passing the 100,000-patient mark....
In November 2016, 71 percent of Florida’s voters gave the green light to medical marijuana. The state still is issuing guidelines and battling lawsuits over how that should be done. But the direction is clear. Already, analysts are projecting a $1 billion medical marijuana market in Florida by 2020.
Fourteen companies have received licenses from the state. They’ve opened 43 dispensaries statewide, including offices in Summerfield and Lady Lake, to serve the growing number of approved patients, which has more than doubled since the start of the year. The coveted licenses are drawing attention from established marijuana businesses. In June, California-based MedMen paid $53 million to acquire the cultivation and distribution rights from Treadwell Nursery in Eustis....
[T]he process to become a qualifying doctor [initially meant] doctors were required to pay $1,000 for an eight-hour course. That requirement has since decreased to a two-hour course costing $250. More than 1,500 physicians now are able to recommend marijuana to patients, including more than 40 in Sumter, Lake and Marion counties.
Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have the most registered physicians, with more than 200 each. Demand for doctors persists, with 1,500 to 3,500 patients joining the registry every week....
Even as more and more people line up for treatment, criticism of the program continues. Companies and advocates of Amendment 2, which authorized medical marijuana, are challenging some of the rules laid out by the Department of Health. Attorney John Morgan sued the department over its rule banning smokeable cannabis, arguing it goes against the will of the voters who approved the amendment. Vaping is allowed. Tallahassee Circuit Judge Karen Gievers sided with Morgan, saying the restriction was unconstitutional. The state immediately appealed the decision, and Morgan tried to get the Florida Supreme Court to consider the case. He now is focusing on legalizing recreational use.
Morgan criticized Gov. Rick Scott, who had opposed the broad legalization of medical marijuana, for allowing the smoking ban. Scott defended following the law as it is written. He is not alone in voicing smoking opposition. The American Society of Addiction Medicine rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery for medical purposes. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the ACS’s advocacy group, has not taken a position on legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, citing a need for more scientific research on marijuana’s potential benefits and harms.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Effective explanation of why it is so hard to explain the exact number of "medical marijuana states"
Over at Marijuana Moment, Kyle Jaeger has this nice new piece on a bit of head-counting (or should I say state-counting) that always sticks in my craw. His piece is headlined "How Many Medical Marijuana States Are There? Advocates Disagree On The Number," and here are excerpts:
Is it 30? 31? How about 45 or 49?
With marijuana legalization efforts moving forward at full steam in states across the country, it can be understandably difficult to keep track of the total number of states that have legalized cannabis in some form, especially when it comes to counting differing medical programs.
In some cases, even national advocacy groups disagree over the actual tally. For example, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) lists 30 legal medical marijuana states, while NORML says the number is 31. Americans for Safe Access, meanwhile, has an interactive map that provides information about existing cannabis laws in 45 states. So what is the number, really?
If you ask NORML, it’s a plain and clear 31. Paul Armentano, the organization’s deputy director, told Marijuana Moment that it’s based on simple reasoning: there are currently 31 states in the U.S. that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes (not including more limited, CBD-focused laws in other states, but we’ll get to those in a minute)....
Unlike NORML, MPP determines what constitutes a legal medical marijuana state based on the fact the state passed a law aimed at medical cannabis in addition to an independent analysis of the efficacy of those laws. That’s why the organization doesn’t include Louisiana in its list of legal states, for instance, even though NORML and others count it.
“Forty-nine states have adopted some form of medical marijuana law, and we feel that the easiest distinction to draw is between those that are effective and relatively comprehensive and those that are ineffective or highly restrictive,” Mason Tvert, MPP’s media relations director, told Marijuana Moment. “There are some states, such as Louisiana, that could arguably fall into both categories, but our policy experts currently still consider it to be too limited to be considered one of the states that has adopted an effective and comprehensive medical marijuana law.”...
When you hear numbers in the upper 40s, those generally take into account states that allow certain patients to use CBD extracts with low-THC composition, but licensed programs providing those products are few and far between. Generally speaking, legalization advocates don’t consider CBD-only states “legal,” per se, but it’s another factor that can muddle the math.
What consequence, if any, these varying tallies have on public policy is uncertain. Advocates believe, however, that including the CBD-only states is one key factor that led to the passage in 2014, and subsequent extension, of a congressionally approved rider preventing Justice Department interference in medical marijuana states. Since the text of the measure itself meticulously lists out all of the affected states — including ones like Texas and Virginia, which only have CBD laws — it is that much harder for lawmakers from those states to vote no....
One thing advocates do agree on is the number of states that allow recreational, or adult-use marijuana. That’s nine, plus Washington, D.C.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Over at Marijuana Moment, Kyle Jaeger has this terrific new piece reflecting on the extraordinary dynamics surrounding the vote on Tuesday in Oklahoma approving a medical marijuana initiative. I recommend the piece in full, and here are excerpts:
Voters in one of the reddest states in the nation approved one of the most far-reaching marijuana ballot measures on Tuesday, making Oklahoma the 30th state to legalize medical cannabis.
And while advocates and pro-legalization organizers in the state will tell you they weren’t necessarily surprised by the results — with polls consistently showing majority support in the lead-up to Tuesday’s vote, for example — the initiative’s passage by a wide margin (57 percent to 43 percent) is still extraordinary.
In part, that’s because of the political landscape of Oklahoma. The state hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, and its marijuana laws have historically reflected a staunch, prohibitionist mindset. Just four years ago, getting caught consuming cannabis in public twice could land you in prison for up to a decade.
But perhaps even more impressively, the initiative was decisively approved—during a midterm primary election—in spite of the fact that committees in support of State Question 788 were outspent by committees opposed to the measure six-to-one. According to the latest campaign finance records, Oklahomans for Health, which played a leading role in support of the initiative, and Yes On 788 spent a total of about $155,000 during their campaigns based on the latest campaign finance disclosure statements submitted June 26.
Committees opposed to the initiative, Oklahomans Against 788 and SQ Is NOT Medical spent a total of about $920,500 on their anti-legalization campaigns, some of which was used for television advertising against the measure. Supporters, on the other hand, did not have enough funds to go on the air with their message.
Chip Paul, chairman of Oklahomans for Health, told Marijuana Moment that the group’s minimal spending “speaks volume for liberty, freedom, unity… because Oklahoma united around this and made it happen.”...
Unlike pro-legalization campaign committees advancing reform bids in many past state-level elections, Oklahomans for Health did not receive financial contributions from national advocacy groups such as Marijuana Policy Project or the Drug Policy Alliance. Paul said it was better that way because “it means more if we do this for $0 or $10,000.”
Another element of the group’s campaign efforts involved strategically avoiding divisive, partisan politics. While the initiative itself has been characterized as “liberal” because it doesn’t include a list of limited medical conditions that qualify individuals for cannabis, the issue at hand is increasingly bipartisan. A recent survey from the progressive think tank Center for American Progress found a record 68 percent of Americans favor recreational legalization, including 57 percent of Republicans. Support for medical marijuana legalization is even higher, with 93 percent of Americans in agreement that patients should be able to legally access the plant. “For the most, we’ve managed to rise above things that would divide us,” Paul said.
June 28, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
As reported in this press release, "Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today formally introduced new legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level." Here is more from the press release, with its links to the proposed legislation:
Specifically, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level. The legislation allows states to continue to function as laboratories of democracy and ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana possession. The legislation, however, does not change federal authorities’ ability to prevent trafficking from states where marijuana is legal to states where is not. The bill also preserves the federal government’s ability to regulate marijuana advertising -- just as it does tobacco -- so that advertisers cannot target children. Schumer has long advocated for states’ rights when it comes to medical marijuana.
Leader Schumer’s new legislation also takes steps to help communities that have been disproportionally affected by our current marijuana laws. The bill includes authorization of grant programs designed to encourage states and local governments to allow individuals to seal or expunge marijuana possession conviction records, and it creates a new funding stream to help ensure that women and minority entrepreneurs have access to the new marijuana industries in their states. The bill also makes new investments in research to fully understand the effect of THC on both driving and public health – particularly in adolescents.
Leader Schumer’s Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is cosponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)....
A fact sheet on the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be viewed here. The full text of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be viewed here. A section-by-section summary of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be found here.
Specifically, Leader Schumer’s new legislation would:
- Decriminalize Marijuana: The legislation would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by descheduling it, which means removing marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970;
- Respect States’ Rights: The legislation would maintain federal law enforcement’s authority to prevent marijuana trafficking from states that have legalized marijuana to those that have not;
- Level The Economic Playing Field: The legislation would establish dedicated funding streams to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses that would be determinant on a reasonable estimate of the total amount of revenue generated by the marijuana industry;
- Ensure Public Safety: The legislation would authorize $250 million over five years for targeted investments in highway safety research to ensure federal agencies have the resources they need to assess the pitfalls of driving under the influence of THC and develop technology to reliably measure impairment;
- Invest In Public Health: The legislation would invest $500 million across five years for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work in close coordination with the Director of National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to better understand the impact of marijuana, including the effects of THC on the human brain and the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment for specific ailments;
- Protect Children: The legislation would maintain the Department of Treasury’s authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way it does tobacco advertising to ensure the marijuana businesses aren’t allowed to target children in their advertisements. The bill also allows the agency to impose penalties in the case of violations;
- Incentive sealing and Expungement programs: The legislation authorizes grant programs to encourage state and local governments to administer, adopt, or enhance expungement or sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions. The bill provides $100 million over five years to the DOJ to carry out this purpose.
This is big news not only because it provides still further evidence that "establishment Democrats" are now fully behind federal marijuana reform, but also because Senator Schumer is positioned to be the House majority leader if Democrats retake control of the Senate in either 2018 or 2020. If that happens, Senator Schumer presumably would be most interesting in having his version of marijuana reform considered first among all the competing bills now floating about.
June 27, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
As reported by Tom Angell at Forbes, "Voters in Oklahoma approved a ballot measure making the state the 30th in the nation to allow broad access to medical marijuana." Here is more:
The proposal, which was leading by a 57% to 43% margin with more than 98% of precincts reporting on Tuesday night, would allow doctors to recommend cannabis for any medical condition they see fit. Most other state medical marijuana laws delineate a specific list of diseases and disorders for which physicians can authorize patients' participation.
The approval of such a far-reaching marijuana proposal in a deeply red state like Oklahoma -- during a midterm primary election, no less -- is a clear sign of the mainstream political support that cannabis reform now enjoys....
Under the new Oklahoma law as drafted, legal patients will receive state ID cards and be allowed to possess three ounces of cannabis in public, and store up to eight ounces at home.
Home cultivation of six mature plants and six seedlings is allowed, as is possession of up to one ounce of cannabis concentrates and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused edible products. Patients could also designate a caregiver to purchase or grow medicine for them.
The new law would also add some level of protection for medical cannabis patients who don't go through the step of getting a state-issued identification card. People who are caught with 1.5 ounces or less of marijuana and can "state a medical condition" would face a misdemeanor offense punishable by no more than a $400 fine.
The state would issue licenses for medical cannabis cultivation, processing, transportation and dispensing businesses, and a 7% retail tax would be applied to medical cannabis sales. Revenue would first go toward covering implementation and regulation costs, with the remainder funding education as well as drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
Any of these provisions are subject to change, however, and there are indications that they may be amended soon. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said last week that she was prepared to call lawmakers into a special legislative session this summer to address provisions which, in her view, essentially allow "recreational marijuana in the state of Oklahoma."
And in a statement on Tuesday night, the governor said she "respect[s] the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state" but that "it is our responsibility as state leaders to look out for the health and safety of Oklahoma citizens."
"I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses [said] Governor Mary Fallin...
In the lead up to the vote, the measure faced vocal opposition from Fallin and from other popular officials like U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R), who appeared in a television ad urging voters to reject medical marijuana. Groups like the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association and the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association also campaigned against legalization.
I thought there was a real chance that this Oklahoma initiative might fail because state leaders seemingly did an effective job of conveying the message that the proposal was tantamount to approving recreational marijuana, and it also seemed more resources were spent in the campaign against the initiative than for it. But despite these forces, a significant form of marijuana reform passed by a very wide margin in a very red state. Too bad representatives in Washington DC have still not yet fully come to understand the depth and strength of voter interest in ending blanket marijuana prohibitions.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
The title of this post is the title of this notable new research now available via SSRN authored by Priscillia Hunt, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula and Gabriel Weinberger. Here is its abstract:
Regulated marijuana markets are more common today than outright prohibitions across the U.S. states. Advocates for policies that would legalize marijuana recreational markets frequently argue that such laws will eliminate crime associated with the black markets, which many argue is the only link between marijuana use and crime. Law enforcement, however, has consistently argued that marijuana medical dispensaries (regulated retail sale and a common method of medical marijuana distribution), create crime in neighborhoods with these store-fronts.
This study offers new insight into the question by exploiting newly collected longitudinal data on local marijuana ordinances within California and thoroughly examining the extent to which counties that permit dispensaries experience changes in violent, property and marijuana use crimes using difference-in-difference methods. The results suggest no relationship between county laws that legally permit dispensaries and reported violent crime. We find a negative and significant relationship between dispensary allowances and property crime rates, although event studies indicate these effects may be a result of pre-existing trends. These results are consistent with some recent studies suggesting that dispensaries help reduce crime by reducing vacant buildings and putting more security in these areas. We also find a positive association between dispensary allowances and DUI arrests, suggesting marijuana use increases in conjunction with impaired driving in counties that adopt these ordinances, but these results are also not corroborated by an event study analysis.
June 16, 2018 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Maine Supreme Court rules federal prohibition preempts effort to make employer subsidize an employee’s medical marijuana
As reported in this AP article, "Maine employers don’t have to pay for medical marijuana under the state workers’ compensation system because federal law supersedes state law, the state supreme court ruled Thursday." Here is more on this state court ruling and some national context:
The court concluded in a 5-2 decision that federal law takes precedence in a conflict between the federal Controlled Substances Act and the state medical marijuana law. Existing case law demonstrates that an individual’s right to use medical marijuana under state law “cannot be converted into a sword that would require another party” to engage in conduct that violates current federal law, Justice Jeffrey Hjelm wrote for the majority.
The legal case focused on whether a paper mill must pay for medical marijuana prescribed for a worker who was disabled after being hurt on the job in 1989. Madawaska resident Gaetan Bourgoin won an appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Board after arguing that marijuana is cheaper and safer than narcotics. But the Twin Rivers Paper Co. argued that it shouldn’t be required to cover the cost of medical marijuana and that doing so put it in violation of federal law.
The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the Maine Legislature’s exemption of medical marijuana patients from prosecution under state law “does not have the power to change or restrict the application of federal law that positively conflicts with state law.”
Two dissenting justices wrote that the compelling story of how the injured worker was weaned from opioids by use of medical marijuana justified requiring the reimbursement. “The result of the court’s opinion today is to deprive (the worker) of reimbursement for medication that has finally given him relief from his chronic pain, and to perhaps force him to return to the use of opioids and other drugs...,” Justice Joseph Jabar wrote....
At least five states — Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico — have found medical marijuana treatment is reimbursable under their workers’ compensation laws, according to the National Council for Compensation Insurance. Florida and North Dakota, meanwhile, passed laws last year excluding medical marijuana treatment from workers’ compensation reimbursement.
The full 50-page Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling is available at this link. Here is how the majority opinion gets started:
After sustaining a work-related injury, Gaetan H. Bourgoin was issued a certification to use medical marijuana as a result of chronic back pain. He successfully petitioned the Workers’ Compensation Board for an order requiring his former employer, Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC, to pay for the medical marijuana. On this appeal from the decision of the Appellate Division affirming that award, we are called upon for the first time to consider the relationship between the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MMUMA). We conclude that in the narrow circumstances of this case — where an employer is subject to an order that would require it to subsidize an employee’s acquisition of medical marijuana — there is a positive conflict between federal and state law, and as a result, the CSA preempts the MMUMA as applied here. See 21 U.S.C.S. § 903 (LEXIS through Pub. L. No. 115-181). We therefore vacate the decision of the Appellate Division.
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper just posted to SSRN authored by A. Lee Hannah. Here is its abstract:
Why did the state of Ohio adopt a medical marijuana policy? And why did it do so in 2016? This article addresses these questions by examining the diffusion of medical cannabis policy across the U.S., by describing the evolution of images related to the policy, and by exploring the content of the law.
Using evidence from legislators’ remarks on the floor of the Ohio General Assembly and interviews with activists and analysts, I show that the direct initiative helped push members of the Ohio General Assembly to write and adopt a medical marijuana law (MML) when they were unlikely to do so. Next, I analyze trends in media coverage of medical marijuana to demonstrate that the spread of the policy has also been aided by shifting images related to the beneficiaries of medical cannabis programs. Turning to the content of the law, I find that Ohio’s MML is written similarly to later adopters in the Midwest – where laws are more restrictive and medicalized. Finally, I assess how the characteristics of the law and looming elections will affect the implementation of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program.
Saturday, June 9, 2018
This recent article from Religion News Service, headlined "In red-state Oklahoma, marijuana ballot question splits people of faith," provides a great look at the range of perspectives on marijuana reform in Oklahoma with only weeks before a big initiative vote. Here are snippets from an article worth reading in full:
As Presbyterian minister Bobby Griffith sees it, legalizing medical marijuana in Oklahoma could help arthritis sufferers with chronic pain and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The 41-year-old husband and father has a personal reason, too, for supporting State Question 788 — a pro-marijuana initiative that the Bible Belt state’s voters will decide June 26. “For myself, I would be interested in a prescription for it to see if it works better than my anxiety and depression medications,” said Griffith, co-pastor of a Presbyterian church near downtown Oklahoma City and a member of the national group Clergy for a New Drug Policy.
As Griffith characterizes it, the Oklahoma ballot measure’s potential to improve health outcomes and reduce dependence on addictive opioid painkillers makes it a “moral issue.”
Religious opponents counter that backing the issue would be immoral. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, blasts the ballot measure as a “recreational marijuana vote disguised as medical marijuana.”
“The moral issue to me is really a family issue,” Lankford, who directed a Baptist youth camp before his 2010 election to Congress, told Religion News Service. “The best thing for our state is not to get more parents and grandparents to smoke marijuana,” added the senator, who filmed a commercial urging voters to reject State Question 788. “To have our communities more drug-addicted and distracted, that doesn’t help our families. It doesn’t make us more prosperous. It doesn’t make our schools more successful.”...
[F]aith arguments are prominent in a state where three out of four residents describe themselves in Gallup polling as “moderately religious” or “very religious.” The vote — which will take place on the state’s primary day for governor and other state and federal offices — resulted from a petition signed by nearly 68,000 voters and presented to state officials two years ago.
If State Question 788 passes, Abner warns, Oklahoma could follow the nine states that have authorized recreational use of marijuana. “The key thing is that it’s not medical,” he said. “This is something that’s hiding behind that (terminology) to bring recreational marijuana to Oklahoma. And from a spiritual standpoint, none of us can sustain the sound minds and healthy bodies God desires us to have when we place ourselves under the controlling influence of something other than the Holy Spirit.”
Other religious opponents include top officials of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma — representing the state’s roughly 577,000 Southern Baptists — and the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, the public policy arm of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses, comprising roughly 288,000 parishioners. “My hope is that Oklahoma will vote down marijuana legalization and continue to put legal barriers between addiction and the communities it devastates,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement published by The Baptist Messenger, an Oklahoma newspaper.
But Jon Middendorf, senior pastor of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene, said he favors “whatever can bring relief to folks who are in chronic pain.”
“I’m just exhausted of conspiracy theories that always seem to emanate from the Christian right,” said Middendorf, who stressed that he was speaking personally and not on behalf of his congregation. “There’s always some sinister story behind it all,” he added. “It really might be that somebody who’s in pain just needs something that hasn’t been tried just yet, that offers some help for relief and quality of life, that they would not have had otherwise.”...
Typically, Oklahomans rank among the most conservative voters in the nation.... But on the medical marijuana issue, recent polling shows State Question 788 enjoying support from 57.5 percent of voters and seeming likely to pass, reported Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.
“We’ve polled this issue multiple times over the last five years, and we continue to see that certain groups, who one might think would be opposed to SQ788, continue to support it,” Shapard said in a statement. “Thirty years ago, these groups would have opposed it, but roughly half have changed their minds since then.”
Griffith, whose congregation is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America, said some of his most conservative friends support State Question 788. “A very conservative person I know — I mean, she loves President Trump but she also wants medical marijuana,” he said. “She has rheumatoid arthritis and wants to have something that helps relieve the pain and has some healing qualities about it without the addiction.”
Notably, this article was published before Prez Trump's comments this past Friday suggesting he would support a federal marijuana reform bill that would formally respect state marijuana reform laws. I suggested in this post a few months ago that proponents of Question 788 likely could benefit greatly, given that 65% of the state voted for Prez Trump, if they could claim he was supportive of state marijuana reform efforts. interesting times.
Some prior related posts:
- Oklahoma medical marijuana initiative set for June vote
- Will Prez Trump's pledge to safeguard states' marijuana reforms boost Oklahoma's medical marijuana initiative?
June 9, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Religion, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, June 8, 2018
President Donald Trump suggests he supports new STATES Act effort to reform federal marijuana prohibition
Tom Angell has this notable breaking news in a new Marijuana Moment posting:
President Trump said on Friday that he “really” supports new marijuana legislation filed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).
“I really do. I support Senator Gardner,” he said when asked about the bill by reporters during an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn as he prepared to board Marine One to head to G-7 summit in Canada.
“I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it,” he said. “But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
The bill, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act, would amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to exempt state-legal marijuana activity from its provisions. It would also protect banks that work with legal cannabis businesses and legalize industrial hemp.
Critically, there is a very big difference between "end[ing] up supporting" a piece of proposed legislation and actively championing it. Especially with various leaders in Congress seemingly actively opposed to any major (or even minor) federal marijuana reforms, I am not optimistic about the prospects of this bill unless and until it has Prez Trump actively campaigning for it. But, for political reasons, maybe he ultimately will.
Prior related post:
Members of Congress introduce STATES Act described as "Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Protect State Marijuana Policies"
June 8, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Members of Congress introduce STATES Act described as "Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Protect State Marijuana Policies"
As reported in this press release, titled "Gardner, Warren, Joyce and Blumenauer Unveil Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Protect State Marijuana Policies," today has brought a big interesting new federal marijuana reform proposal. Here are the details via the press release (with links from the original):
U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representatives David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act) to ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders. The bill also extends these protections to Washington D.C, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes, and contains common-sense guardrails to ensure that states, territories, and tribes regulating marijuana do so safely.
Forty-six states currently have laws permitting or decriminalizing marijuana or marijuana-based products - and Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and a number of tribes have similar laws. As states developed their own approaches to marijuana enforcement, the Department of Justice issued guidance to safeguard these state actions and ensure practical use of limited law enforcement resources. However, this guidance was withdrawn earlier this year, creating legal uncertainty, threatening
public health and safety, and undermining state regulatory regimes....
Ignoring the ability of states, territories, and tribes to determine for themselves what type of marijuana regulation works best comes with real costs. Legitimate businesses that comply with state laws are blocked from access to basic banking services. Illicit markets often spring up and local law enforcement must divert resources needed elsewhere. Thousands of people are prosecuted and locked up in our criminal justice system. Qualified scientists and state public health departments struggle to conduct basic and epidemiological research or spur medical advances, and the fundamental nature of state and tribal sovereignty is violated. As more states, territories, and tribes thoughtfully consider updates to marijuana regulations, often through voter-initiated referendums, it is critical that Congress take immediate steps to safeguard their right to do so by passing the STATES Act.
The legislation has been endorsed by organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Safe Access, Americans for Tax Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for Liberty, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cooperative Credit Union Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Liberty, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union League, the Mountain West Credit Union Association, the National Cannabis Bar Association, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the New Federalism Fund,NORML, the Northwest Credit Union Association, R Street, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
The STATES Act:
- Amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that - as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections - its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to marijuana activities.
- Clearly states that compliant transactions are not trafficking and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction.
- Removes industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances under the CSA.
- The following federal criminal provisions under the CSA continue to apply:
- Prohibits endangering human life while manufacturing marijuana.
- Prohibits employment of persons under age 18 in drug operations.
- Prohibits the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities such as rest areas and truck stops.
- Prohibits the distribution or sale of marijuana to persons under the age of 21 other than for medical purposes.
June 7, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (1)
Monday, June 4, 2018
There are so many interesting developments, some small and some big, in medical marijuana states that I cannot come close to keeping track of it all. Having seen a lot of notable stories in a lot of states in recent days, I figured it might be time to do a round-up of stories that caught my eye. So, though this is not in any sense comprehensive, here goes in alphabetical order:
From Arkansas here, "Arkansas Supreme Court to hear dispute over medical marijuana rollout"
From Connecticut here, "With booming medical marijuana program, some fear shortages"
From Georgia here, "Georgia couple loses custody of son after giving him marijuana to treat seizures"
From Florida here, "As marijuana dispensaries open their doors, Florida registers 5,400 new users per week"
From Maryland here, "Overwhelmed computer system stalls medical marijuana sales over weekend in Maryland
From Ohio here, "Ohio announces 56 sites where medical marijuana will be sold"
From Oklahoma here, "Oklahoma's medical marijuana law would be unique"
From Utah here, "Unofficially, many Utah law enforcement groups are lining up to oppose the medical marijuana initiative"
Friday, June 1, 2018
Regular readers have often seen me use this space to sing the praises of various writings from various folks at Brookings on various marijuana reform topics. This Brookings feature highlights that their work in this space has taken on a new dimension:
For 100 years, Brookings has been known for its in-depth public policy research, primarily shared through reports, books, and events. This year, the Institution has added a new medium to its canon of work: narrative film.
On May 29, Brookings and Variety co-hosted the Washington, D.C. premiere of the Institution’s first documentary-short film, “The Life She Deserves.” The film is an intimate portrait of Virginia teenager Jennifer Collins and her family’s struggle to find a treatment to control her debilitating epilepsy and their fight to change medical marijuana laws. Following the screening of the film—a culmination of more than two years of work between Senior Fellow John Hudak and the Institution’s creative video team — John Hudak, Jennifer Collins, her mother and medical cannabis advocate Beth Collins, and George Burroughs, the film’s director, discussed the role of film in influencing policy and the current picture of state-level marijuana legalization and federal restrictions on the use and clinical research into medical cannabis. Ted Johnson, a senior editor at Variety, moderated the conversation....
“The Life She Deserves” is available to watch online at www.lifeshedeserves.com.