Other business opportunities include advanced delivery services for homebound patients. However, there are still some remaining hurdles. Local jurisdictions could limit sales and there could be some barriers to doctors who want to participate. Plus, there is uncertainty surrounding the new Federal administration. Still, it's full steam ahead for medical marijuana in Florida unless someone says otherwise.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
In the run-up to the November 2016 election, I suggested that Florida's vote over a significant medical marijuana ballot initiative could be as important as any of the recreational marijuana reform votes taking place in other states. This new Forbes article, headlined "Florida Medical Marijuana Sales Could Rival Colorado By 2020," reinforces my view. Here are excerpts (with links from the original):
Colorado and California may be ground zero for medical marijuana, but Florida could quickly catch up. A new report from New Frontier Data with market data provided by Arcview Market Research projects that Florida's market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 140%. That would make it half the size of California's projected $2.6 billion market and top the projected $1.5 billion medical marijuana market for Colorado.
Florida voters legalized medical marijuana during this past election with more than 70% of the vote. Florida has the fifth-highest median age and is one of the most popular places to retire in the country. It is considered to be well-positioned to serve the aging population with medical cannabis products. The New Frontier report believes that Florida could end up becoming 7.5% of the total legal U.S. cannabis market and 14% of the medical marijuana market by 2020.
“Florida has the potential to be one of the largest medical markets in the country. The state is home to the nation's largest percentage of people 65 and older, a demographic for whom chronic pain and catastrophic illnesses are commonplace and expensive to treat. Amendment 2 gives this large patient pool access to legal cannabis as an alternative therapy to their diverse medical needs,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha DeCarcer.
Troy Dayton of The Arcview Group said, “The opportunity for good jobs, tax money and wealth creation created by Amendment 2 passing cannot be understated. And, thankfully, seriously ill patients will no longer need to go to high school parking lots or drug dealers to get their medicine.” Dayton also noted that cannabis entrepreneurs are pretty excited at their prospects in the state.
One example of this is the decision by High There!, a social media site that caters to the cannabis crowd, to move from Colorado to Florida. “When we launched 18 months ago, we felt Denver was the right city to be home to High There!, as it was a legal state. But with Florida legalizing medical marijuana, we realized the opportunity was really in our home state, and High There! could be a model of the economic impact a legal marijuana market can bring to a region,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Darren Roberts.High There! is bringing jobs with it as it moves its headquarters back to the founders home state. The company plans to add positions in operations, and marketing in the coming months, and continues to add strategic partners as the company solidifies itself as a leading technology platform for the cannabis community. The company wants to promote accessibility of medical marijuana and has partnered with United For Care, the largest organization that worked to pass Amendment 2....
December 10, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, December 8, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this effective new Time magazine article. I recommend the piece in full, and here are some key excerpts and major headings:
With Donald Trump nominating Cabinet members who have spoken out against legal marijuana, some are arguing that the war on drugs may make a comeback. But while there’s reason for anxiety among those selling recreational marijuana legally in states like Colorado and Washington, an all-out war remains unlikely.
Experts say that trying to undo legalization at this point would come with serious economic and political hurdles. “It’s certainly come so far,” says Sam Kamin, a marijuana law expert at the University of Denver, “that it can’t be undone without a heavy cost.” Others are even more skeptical. Says Mike Vitiello, a marijuana law expert at the University of the Pacific, “It’s kind of like illegal immigration: You can’t build a wall high enough.”
Here are seven reasons that it would be hard to stop what the states have started.
Waging a war on pot would go against the will of many voters.
“It would be a very blatant finger to the voters,” says the Drug Policy Alliance’s Amanda Reiman. In November, voters in eight states cast their ballots for some form of marijuana legalization. That means that medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states and recreational marijuana is legal in eight, including the nation’s most populous: California. With that powerhouse on board, a total of about one quarter of the population lives in a place where voters have decided that adults should be able to consume cannabis much the same way they consume alcohol. And all but six other states have legalized a non-psychoactive form of cannabis known as CBD, which people use to treat conditions like juvenile epilepsy.
Public opinion on marijuana is going in the opposite direction. ...
Trump himself has said he supports medical marijuana and that states should handle the question of whether to legalize. ...
It does not seem high on his list of priorities. ...
Waging a war costs money. ...
There’s a lot of money in marijuana these days and the prospect of much more in the future.
If legal marijuana markets didn’t exist tomorrow, that would mean the shuttering of hundreds of small businesses and the loss of thousands of jobs. It would buoy the black market. And it would also make for a lot of unhappy investors. The market for legal marijuana in America is already worth an estimated $7 billion and, according to market research firm ArcView, it will be worth more than $20 billion by 2020. While many bigwig venture capitalists and corporations are still wary of writing checks because of prohibition, others are proving eager to cash in on the “green rush.” Among them is even a member of Trump’s transition team, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. “There’s a huge amount of capital formation,” says Vitiello. “There are literally billions of dollars of investment in these gray market establishments.”
The extent of federal government’s authority over these matters is unclear.
December 8, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Regular readers of this blog know that one of the most encouraging pieces of modern marijuana research comes from the growing evidence suggesting that deaths from opioid overdoses are lower in states that have functional medical marijuana programs. (See prior discussions here and here and here.) For that reason, when I see this new article from my local paper, headlined "Ohio leads nation in overdose deaths," I immediately think it is time for all Ohio officials to try to shift the state's new medical marijuana law into high gear. Here is the ugly deadly data (which actually is based only on 2014 fatalities):
In a grim statistic that surprises no one close to the problem, Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths, a new report shows. Along with the overall category, Ohio also had the country's most deaths related to heroin: One in 9 heroin deaths across the U.S. happened in Ohio. The Buckeye State also recorded the most deaths from synthetic opioids: About 1 in 14 U.S. deaths.
In all the categories, Ohio easily surpassed states with larger populations. According to state-by-state statistics compiled by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2,106 opioid overdoses were reported in Ohio in 2014, which was 7.4 percent of the 28,647 deaths reported nationwide that year. California ranked second with 2,024 deaths and New York was third with 1,739.
The statistics are troubling but probably aren’t news to many law enforcement officials, treatment providers and families of addicts in Ohio who have seen the number of overdose deaths shoot up every year lately. Ohio’s status as the nation’s OD capital may continue. The state’s overdose deaths rocketed to 3,050 last year and are expected to burst past that number in 2016.
The Kaiser analysis, compiled from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information, showed Ohio had the highest number of deaths from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil, with 590 deaths out of 5,544 nationally, or 7.4 percent. Finally, Ohio also had the dubious distinction of having the most heroin deaths in 2014, 1,208 of 10,574 nationally, or 11.4 percent, the Kaiser statistics showed.
Tellingly, the MUCH bigger states of California and New York both have medical marijuana programs (though New York's is still in its infancy), and I suspect that marijuana access is generally greater in a number of other larger prohibition states (e.g., Texas and Florida) relative to Ohio. Critically, I am not asserting that marijuana reform alone is a magic solution to opioid overdose problems or even that Ohio's new medical marijuana program will make a major difference in this arena. But I am asserting that, at a time of a deadly opioid crisis that has only gotten worse and worse each year, state officials ought to be embracing any and every public policy response that research suggests might be of help. Marijuana reform would seem to be on any serious list of public policy responses that research suggests might be of help in this time of crisis.
Some prior related posts:
Saturday, November 26, 2016
The question in the title of this post was the headline of this recent New York Times article, which included these excerpts:
For businesses and insurers, a string of ballot victories this month for marijuana advocates are adding to an intensifying conundrum about the drug and issues such as insurance coverage, employee drug testing and workplace safety.... “We are entering this conflict between a social policy decision and a workplace that is highly regulated,” said Alex Swedlow, the chief executive of the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, a research organization.
A major part of the predicament centers on unclear science about the benefits of marijuana or the dozens of compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the plant. For its part, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only a synthetic version of a cannabinoid and a similar drug for narrow uses, such as to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients or to stimulate the appetites of patients with AIDS. Typically, health insurers will pay for marijuana-related drugs only for F.D.A.-approved uses.
But state medical marijuana laws usually give doctors permission to recommend marijuana to a patient with a “debilitating” condition, a phrase that can encompass problems including glaucoma, cancer and chronic pain. Usually, patients pay for the drug themselves and several states have explicitly exempted workplace compensation insurers for covering such costs.
But as a result of recent state court rulings in New Mexico, workplace insurers there are required to pay for marijuana-based treatments if they are recommended by a doctor. And lower courts in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Michigan have issued rulings directing workplace insurers to do so. The number of patients receiving such coverage is small. And because marijuana is illegal under federal law, insurers paying for the drug must use a financial workaround to avoid violations. One strategy is to reimburse patients for their costs rather than make a direct payment to a marijuana dispensary....
Despite the push toward legalization, few employers have dropped marijuana from the list of drugs for which employees are tested, compounds that typically include opioids, amphetamines and cocaine... As marijuana legalization expands, there are also concerns about its effect on workplace safety. Some studies suggest that marijuana use can impair a person’s judgment, though little data exists to compare the effect with that of other drugs like opioids.
In states where recreational use is allowed, the problem for employers becomes one of determining when an employee used marijuana, because detectable levels of it remain in the body for days afterward. As a result, employers must use more subjective observations to judge whether an employee has become impaired from using marijuana while at work, said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports legalization.
As for Mr. Vialpando, the disabled worker in Santa Fe, he and his wife say they have all the evidence they need that medical marijuana works. Mr. Vialpando said that during the decade he used opioids, he withdrew from his family and friends, preferring to spend time by himself, watching television. He lost interest in food and developed sleep apnea — his wife used to wake up terrified at night because it appeared that he was dying.
These days, he smokes about four marijuana cigarettes daily. He said he had gained weight, enjoyed talking again and had resumed working on hobbies at home. His wife, Margaret, said that she hoped President-elect Donald J. Trump, when he takes office, will make marijuana a legal drug by changing how it is regulated. “I feel like I’ve gotten my husband back,” she said. “His personality has come back to the person that he used to be.”
November 26, 2016 in Employment and labor law issues, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Responding to election results, NFL Players Association moving forward on studying marijuana for pain relief
As many like to say, elections have consequences. And this new Washington Post article highlights one really interesting and surprisingly quick consequence of all the marijuana election results. The lengthy article is headlined "As more states legalize marijuana, NFLPA to study potential as a pain-management tool," and here are excerpts:
In the aftermath of a new set of states legalizing marijuana use in the national elections, the NFL Players Association said Wednesday it is forming a committee to actively study the possibility of allowing players to use marijuana as a pain-management tool.
The union is forming an NFL players pain management committee that will study players’ use of marijuana as a pain-management mechanism, among other things, though the union has not yet determined if an adjustment to the sport’s ban on marijuana use is warranted.
“Marijuana is still governed by our collective bargaining agreement,” George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director of external affairs, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “And while some states have moved in a more progressive direction, that fact still remains. We are actively looking at the issue of pain management of our players. And studying marijuana as a substance under that context is the direction we are focused on.”
A growing push from players within the sport, plus an ongoing national medical conversation over the benefits of marijuana and the dangers of opiate-based painkillers, have increased scrutiny on the league’s rules that ban the drug. This also comes as voters in California, Nevada and Massachusetts approved recreational marijuana use Tuesday, joining four other states and Washington, D.C., in enacting similar laws. Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voters legalized medical marijuana use, bringing the total of states with such measures to more than two dozen.
But marijuana use remains prohibited under the drug policy collectively bargained between the NFL and the NFLPA, and both parties would need to agree to any changes to that policy. Players are tested for marijuana and can be fined or suspended without pay for positive or missed tests. The union’s contemplation of approving marijuana as a pain-management mechanism for players had begun before Tuesday’s voting.
Some players, including former Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe, argue that marijuana is safer than the painkillers commonly used by players and its use should be permitted by the sport for pain-management purposes....
Some contend that the increasing number of states to legalize marijuana use should impact the NFL’s view. “There is no health and safety reason for marijuana being on the banned list and now the legal rationale has crumbled,” a person on the players’ side of the sport said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.
Some medical experts are also advocating for cannabis-based treatment over some current painkillers, noting the addiction and overdose potential of opioids. In 2014, 19,000 deaths were attributed to overdoses from prescription pain medication, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Prescription painkillers have also been cited as a gateway to heroin use.
“In my mind, there’s no comparison if we just started from scratch in the year 2016 and looked newly at which class of drugs worked better to treat pain and side-effect profile up to and including death, in the case of opioids,” Daniel Clauw, a University of Michigan professor who has performed studies comparing opioids and cannabis, told the Post in June. “You put the two next to each other, and there really is no debate which is more effective to treat pain. You would go the cannabinoid route instead of the opiate route.”
Cannabidiol, or CBD, an anti-inflammatory extracted from cannabis, could potentially help players as a preventative measure against one of the most pressing issues facing the NFL: concussions. Lester Grinspoon, a professor emeritus at Harvard and one of the first medical marijuana researchers, said in an interview with the Post earlier this year that “evidence shows CBD is neuroprotective. I would have each individual take a capsule an hour or two before they play or practice. It’s better than nothing.”...
The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and union runs through 2020. But the two sides review the sport’s drug policies annually and sometimes make adjustments. In September 2014, the league and union agreed to raise the threshold for what constitutes a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 35 nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram....
The league has come under fire recently for the length of suspensions given for marijuana use compared to other violations, such as the initial suspensions for domestic violence incidents assessed to then-New York Giants kicker Josh Brown (one game) earlier this season and then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (two games) in 2014....
Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University, said the NFL and NFLPA face a practical and perhaps political decision about marijuana, but not one of compliance with shifting state laws. “There are substances on the banned substances list that are not illegal,” Feldman said in a phone interview. “The league and the Players Association can make the determination under the CBA that substances that are legal can be on the banned substances list. . . . [Conversely the league] doesn’t have to test for it just because it’s illegal.
“The league is certainly not bound by the laws of individual states in terms of whether they test or don’t test. There are some who might say that alcohol should be a banned substance even though it’s legal. Ultimately it’s up to the league and the players to decide.”
The momentum of the marijuana-legalization movement potentially could influence the NFL’s thinking, Feldman said. “It may,” Feldman said. “I would think that both the league and the players are continuing to study the issue and continuing to study whether it makes sense. Certainly as the laws change, that might inform their decision and we may see action. [But] the league also has a uniformity issue. Even if the federal prohibition is lifted and it’s legal in some states and illegal in other states, the NFL might have an interest in maintaining uniformity in its policy.”
November 9, 2016 in Employment and labor law issues, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Sports, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Though I have "called" victories for medical marijuana initiatives in Florida and in North Dakota, the smaller number of votes in and the closeness of the votes in Arkansas and Montana preclude me from conclusively concluding that tonight will be a clean sweep for all the state medical marijuana initiatives. But, as Tuesday turns to Wednesday here in the Eastern Time Zone, the election numbers from Arkansas here and from Montana here suggest that Election 2016 was a big one for medical marijuana reform in a lot of red and deep red states.
As of 8:30pm ET, this Florida election results page shows medical marijuana reform leading by over a 70% to 30% margin with about 8.5 million votes counted. This reality is sure to be overshadowed by other election results today, including other marijuana ballot votes in other states, but I think this could be the biggest news of the night for moving the needle on federal marijuana reform.
UPDATE: As of 10:30pm, with more than 9 million votes in, the medical marijuana reform amendment is winning 71.25% to 28.75%.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
As reported in this new AP piece, headlined "Arkansas Court Disqualifies 2nd Medical Marijuana Proposal," a significant state Supreme Court ruling today seems likely to have a significant impact on marijuana reform voting in The Natural State. Here are the details:
The Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified a medical marijuana proposal from the November ballot less than two weeks before the election and with thousands of votes already cast, but voters will still be able to consider a competing plan.
In a 5-2 ruling Thursday, the court sided with opponents of the proposed initiated act — known as Issue 7 — that would have allowed patients with certain medical conditions and a doctor's recommendation to purchase marijuana from dispensaries. The proposal was one of two medical marijuana proposals on the ballot, and justices earlier this month rejected a challenge to a competing measure.
The ruling comes after nearly 142,000 people have already cast ballots through early voting, which began Monday in Arkansas for the general election.
Justices tossed out more than 12,000 signatures that were approved by election officials for the proposal, saying supporters didn't comply with laws regarding registration and reporting of paid canvassers. The decision left the group nearly 2,500 signatures shy of what was needed to qualify for the ballot.
The head of Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group behind the measure, didn't immediately comment. Two justices disagreed with the opinion, noting that a retired judge assigned by the court to review the petitions had said more than enough valid signatures were submitted. "The people should be permitted to vote on the initiative on November 8, and their votes should be counted," Interim Chief Justice Howard Brill wrote in the dissenting opinion.
Both measures called for allowing patients with certain medical conditions to buy the drug, but they differed in their restrictions and regulations. For example, the proposal struck down Thursday would have allowed patients to grow their own marijuana if they didn't live near a dispensary. Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana last week began airing TV ads statewide in favor of its proposal, Issue 6.
The head of that group said he believed the ruling would help his proposal. "It eliminates some of the confusion on which one to vote for," David Couch said. "If you want to help sick and dying patients in Arkansas, then you have to vote for (Issue 6)."
Arkansas voters narrowly rejected a medical marijuana proposal four years ago despite national groups spending big in favor of legalization. National support for medical marijuana has grown since then, and half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug in some fashion.
But the medical marijuana push faces more obstacles this year in Arkansas. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who headed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, has spoken out against the measures. A coalition of the state's most powerful lobbying groups — including the state Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Farm Bureau — have been campaigning against them. A Republican lawmaker has said he'll propose legislation next year legalizing a limited strain of the drug for some patients if voters reject legalizing medical marijuana next month.
The opinion in this case is available at this link.
October 27, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this new article from my own Columbus Dispatch. Here are excerpts:
Can you legally buy medical marijuana in Ohio? If so, can you get it from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, family member or friend, drug dealer or grow it yourself?
You would think the answers to these questions would be simple and straightforward under the letter of the law. Not so much.
Technically, medical marijuana has been legal in Ohio since a new law, House Bill 523, took effect Sept. 8. But as of yet — and probably not until 2018 — patients in Ohio cannot legally buy marijuana for medical purposes.
Before that happens, the complicated, time-consuming job of drafting rules, policies, certifications, licenses and many other things must be completed. Rules don’t have to be in place, by law, until next year. Only after rules go through two state oversight agencies can cultivators begin growing marijuana crops, with processing, lab testing and sales through licensed dispensaries to follow. Advocates have pressed the board to allow physicians to utilize an “affirmative defense” clause in the statue, essentially offering legal protection against prosecution if physicians recommend medical marijuana for a patient prior to it being available here.
Robert Giacalone, a medical board member, said the agency “is in no way prohibiting the recommendation of medical marijuana now that HB523 is effective.” But he added there is “ conflicting language” in the law because of a provision prohibiting physicians from recommending marijuana until Ohio rules are written and the product is grown and sold in the state. “If any physician wishes to recommend medical marijuana before the rules are in place, we strongly recommend that they contact a private attorney,” Giaclone said at a board meeting last Wednesday.
Rob Ryan, head of Ohio Patient Network, an advocacy group, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that people with qualifying conditions should be able to get medical marijuana in Ohio.” Ryan said he knows some physicians are recommending marijuana but, like patients, they are being very cautious. Asked where patients can get marijuana if they have a physician’s recommendation, Ryan said, “it might be growing in your backyard or basement, from a family member or friend, or a dealer as a last resort. I’d be very careful going out of state.”
Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, which advises the medical board, concludes it would be “very difficult” to legally obtain marijuana in Ohio at this time. “Everybody knows there’s significant lead time built into this statute,” DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said. “We don’t have the specific rules in place at the medical board or the pharmacy board.”...
The delays and moratoriums are seen as chipping away at the law by Savannah Smith of the Ohio Rights Group, an advocacy organization. “It’s extremely frustrating,” Smith said. “The sick, dying and disabled of Ohio are our most vulnerable. They are medical refugees. “We had hoped this law would provide some real relief for the population that we’ve been fighting for for years.”
October 26, 2016 in Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 16, 2016
The title of this post is the title of this astute and useful review of early medicial marijuana regulatory developments in the great state of Ohio authored by two attorneys in the Benesch law firm’s Health Care & Life Sciences Practice Group. Here is how this "client bulletin" gets started:
When Ohio House Bill 523 (HB 523) became effective on September 8, 2016, Ohio joined the company of 25 other states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes. Modeled after highly restrictive regimes adopted by state legislatures in Illinois, Maryland, and New York, the Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) envisioned by HB 523 has the potential to be one of the most complex and heavily regulated medical cannabis programs in the country. HB 523 relies on a tightly controlled ‘Schedule II’ pharmaceuticalstyle regulatory framework, but the Ohio legislature left some room for flexibility in the MMCP by punting to the rulemaking process several of the toughest issues it faced, such as determining the number of licenses available under the MMCP, the cost of licenses, the geographical distribution of medical cannabis businesses, and the hurdles doctors will face in order to recommend medical cannabis to patients with qualifying medical conditions.
The ultimate functionality of the MMCP – both in terms of the opportunity for seriously ill patients to access medicine, and the opportunity for market participants to create a sustainable program to serve those patients – will be determined by the extensive rulemaking and licensure process to be carried out by the Department of Commerce, the state Pharmacy Board, and the state Medical Board over the next two years. Several early indicators, however, have begun to cast doubt on the program’s viability as written. This article recaps several recent developments in the MMCP and addresses specifically the Medical Board’s recent guidance on the “affirmative defense” provision of HB 523, the only part of the law that is currently operational.
October 16, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Latest polling suggests Florida voters will approve medical marijuana constitutional amendment by needed super-majority this November
This local article from Florida, headlined "Poll: 73% of voters support medical marijuana ballot initiative," suggests that a needed super-majority of voters in the largest and most important state considering a medical marijuana initiative are supportive of reform. Here are the basics (with links from the original):
The 2016 medical marijuana ballot initiative has strong support among Floridians, according to a new poll. A new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute found 73 percent of voters would support the amendment. The survey found 22 percent were opposed to the ballot initiative....
The 2016 proposal allows people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.
A similar amendment received 58 percent of the vote in 2014, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.
The new Florida Chamber Political Institute survey is in line with other recent polls, which showed 70 percent of Floridians supported the amendment.
Though many folks understandably and justifiably are looking at full legalization initiatives in California and a handful of others states in 2016 as the "big" marijuana reform story to watch this election cycle, I continue to think the likely impact of Floridians strongly supporting medical marijuana reform come November could be profound.
Florida is, for various reasons both political and practical, the most significant (not to mention the most populous) state in the southeast region. If Florida voters approve medical marijuana by a huge margin, Florida's elected officials at both the state and federal levels will likely be joining the ever-growing bandwagon of prominent politicians with a vested local interest in at least easing the tensions between state-level marijuana reforms and federal prohibition.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
International Business Times has this up-to-date article, headlined "Marijuana Legalization 2016 Ballot: Which States Are Voting On Cannabis Laws On Election Day?," providing an effective review of where and what voters will be considering as to marijuana reform in numerous states. Here are the basics:
More than 82 million U.S. residents will have the chance to cast ballots on marijuana measures when they go to vote for president come Election Day in November. Marijuana laws – whether it be to legalize or decriminalize – have been added to the ballot in nine states. Here's everything you need to know about the marijuana proposals voters will decide on come Nov. 8.
Arizona – Under the guidelines of Proposition 205, or Arizona’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative, adults 21 and up would be allowed to possess and recreationally use one ounce or less of marijuana....
Arkansas – The Natural State is set to vote on two marijuana measures: Arkansas Issue 7 Medical Cannabis Statute and Arkansas Medical Marijuana Issue 6. If the majority of residents vote “yes” for Issue 6, then medical marijuana will be legal and a dispensary and cultivation license fees will receive a cap....
California – Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996. Proposition 64, also called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would legalize recreational weed and hemp for people 21 and older....
Florida – Amendment 2 legalizes medical marijuana for patients suffering from specific debilitating diseases including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis....
Maine – Question 1 (2016) would legalize recreational use of marijuana throughout the state, which has allowed legal medical marijuana since 1999.
Massachusetts – Question 4 would fully legalize marijuana with regulations similar to the state’s approach to alcoholic beverages....
Montana – Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative I-182 is an amendment to the already-passed Montana Medical Marijuana Act. Should the new measure pass, the current medical marijuana laws will be adjusted to allow more patients access to medical marijuana....
Nevada – People 21 and older would be able to possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes under Nevada’s Question 2.
North Dakota – Initiated Statutory Measure 5 gives patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, and glaucoma and epilepsy access to medical marijuana with a specific identification card.
September 24, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, September 22, 2016
--- in April, Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor signed into law the Keystone State's new medical marijuana law (basics here);
--- in June, Ohio's Republican Governor signed into law the Buckeye State's new medical marijuana law (basics here); and
--- in September, as reported here, Michigan's Republican Governor signed into law new medical marijuana regulations.
As a number of folks know, these three states are always interesting to watch and study politically and practically on an array of issues for an array of reasons. Pennsylvania is at once an urban east-coast state around Philadelphia, an urban midwest state around Pittsburgh, and a rural state in between. Ohio is the ultimate bellwether state with urban, suburban and rural, northern and southern regions and populations that closely mirror many national realities. And Michigan likewise has a diverse array of distinctive regions (and, in this context, has a considerable history of a legal but largely unregulated medical marijuana industry).
I could go on and on about why each of these states with their own distinctive (and still developing) medical marijuana laws justify close study individually. But my point in this post is to highlight the unique and uniquiely important research opportunity presented by the fact that all three of these (connected) states have new and detailed medical marijuana regulations coming on line at roughly the same time. In particular, I am hopeful that some of the independent research entities following marijuana reform developments closely (e.g., the Brookings Institution and the Rand Corporation) will give particular attention in the months and years ahead to these particular democratic laboratories.
September 22, 2016 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)
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
New York Department of Health releases two-year report on "Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act"
I was pleased to find this big new data-rich report from the New York Department of Health titled simply "Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act: Two-Year Report." For those really interested in really understanding how really serious medical marijuana programs are operating (as I am), this kind of official report is terrifically interesting and valuable. Here is the 13-page report's introduction and some of its closing recommendations:
On July 7th, 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law the Compassionate Care Act to establish a comprehensive Medical Marijuana Program (“program”). Just eighteen months after the Compassionate Care Act was signed into law, the first New Yorkers obtained medical marijuana. The program launched on time and statewide, providing access to a new treatment option for patients in a manner that protects public health and safety. Within the first six months of operation, over 5,000 patients were certified with the program. The program also registered more than 600 physicians across the State. In just six months, New York’s program has more physicians registered than other states whose programs have been in existence for significantly longer than New York’s. The program continues to oversee the manufacture and sale of medical marijuana to ensure that it is dispensed and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.
Pursuant to Public Health Law (PHL) § 3367(3), this report provides an overview of Medical Marijuana Program activities since the signing of the Compassionate Care Act, as well as recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. The data for this report was obtained on June 15, 2016, from the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) Medical Marijuana Data Management System (MMDMS) and the Prescription Monitoring Program Registry (PMPR)....
1. NYSDOH recommends authorizing Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to certify New Yorkers for medical marijuana, consistent with their current authority to prescribe controlled substances (including opioids) for patients diagnosed with qualifying conditions covered in the Compassionate Care Act. Allowing NPs to issue certifications for medical marijuana would allow them to properly treat patients suffering from severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions, particularly in many rural counties where there are fewer physicians available to treat such ailments....
4. NYSDOH recommends evaluating allowing distribution of Medical Marijuana to certified patients through home delivery services provided by registered organizations, and review of policies and procedures from other jurisdictions to help craft guidelines to provide for a safe and effective home delivery program.....
5. NYSDOH recommends working with the registered organizations to make more brands of medical marijuana products available to patients....
7. NYSDOH recommends a review of evidence be conducted for the medical use of marijuana in patients suffering from chronic intractable pain....
9. To meet additional patient demand and increase access to medical marijuana throughout New York State, NYSDOH recommends registering five additional organizations over the next two years, using a phased-in approach to permit their smooth integration into the industry.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
This Washington Post article, headlined "Missing from Maryland’s legal marijuana growers? Black business leaders," reports on an all-too-common business pattern that tends to emerge as a state gets started with modern marijuana reforms. Here is how the article gets started:
Maryland set up its legal medical marijuana industry with hopes of racial diversity and equity in spreading profits, but none of the 15 companies that were cleared this week for potentially lucrative growing licenses is led by African Americans.
Some lawmakers and prospective minority-owned businesses say this is unacceptable in a state where nearly a third of the population is black, the most of any state with a comprehensive legal pot industry. They say the lack of diversity is emblematic of how, across the country, African Americans are disproportionately locked up when marijuana use is criminalized yet are shut out of the profits when drug sales are legalized. “We are not going to see this industry flourish in the state of Maryland with no minority participation,” said Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Glenn was a key player in the legalization battle, and the commission that awards medical marijuana business licenses and oversees the industry is named after her mother, Natalie LaPrade, who died of cancer. She is considering filing a legal injunction to halt the licensing process and is weighing other options, such as pushing the commission to award additional licenses to minority-owned companies.
The law legalizing medical marijuana says regulators should “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in the industry. But the commission did not provide extra weight to applications submitted by minority-owned businesses because a letter from the attorney general’s office suggested that preferences would be unconstitutional without there being a history of racial disparity in marijuana licensing to justify the move.
A spokeswoman for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission said there will be future opportunities to expand minority participation when the agency awards dispensary licenses and when it considers issuing more cultivation licenses in 2018 if supply doesn’t meet demand. Businesses must also submit annual reports on the racial breakdown of their ownership and workforce, providing a more comprehensive look at the industry’s diversity. “The Commission believes a diverse workforce is in the best interest of the industry,” said Vanessa Lyon, the spokeswoman.
But Glenn and other critics say the state hasn’t done enough to ensure diversity in the blossoming business that’s already worth billions nationwide.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
This recent USA Today piece, headlined "As states OK medical marijuana laws, doctors struggle with knowledge gap," puts a needed spotlight on what I think may be the most under-examined aspect of modern state medical marijuana reforms. Here are excerpts:
Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine for almost 20 years. But Farmington physician Jean Antonucci says she continues to feel unprepared when counseling sick patients about whether the drug could benefit them. Will it help my glaucoma? Or my chronic pain? My chemotherapy’s making me nauseous, and nothing’s helped. Is cannabis the solution? Patients hope Antonucci, 62, can answer those questions. But she said she is still “completely in the dark.”
Antonucci doesn’t know whether marijuana is the right way to treat an ailment, what amount is an appropriate dose or whether a patient should smoke it, eat it, rub it through an oil or vaporize it. Like most doctors, she was never trained to have these discussions. And, because the topic still is not usually covered in medical school, seasoned doctors, as well as younger ones, often consider themselves ill-equipped. Even though she tries to keep up with the scientific literature, Antonucci said, “it’s very difficult to support patients but not know what you’re saying.”
As the number of states allowing medical marijuana grows – the total has reached 25 plus the District of Columbia – some are working to address this knowledge gap with physician training programs. States are beginning to require doctors to take continuing medical education courses that detail how marijuana interacts with the nervous system and other medications, as well as its side effects.
Though laws vary, they have common themes. They usually set up a process by which states establish marijuana dispensaries, where patients with qualifying medical conditions can obtain the drug. The conditions are specified on a state-approved list. And the role of doctors is often to certify that patients have one of those ailments. But many say that, without knowing cannabis’ health effects, even writing a certification makes them uncomfortable. “We just don’t know what we don’t know. And that’s a concern,” said Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a practicing doctor in Pennsylvania.
This medical uncertainty is complicated by confusion over how to navigate often contradictory laws. While states generally involve physicians in the process by which patients obtain marijuana, national drug policies have traditionally had a chilling effect on these conversations. The Federation of State Medical Boards has tried to add clarity. In an Aug. 9 JAMA editorial, leaders noted that federal law technically prohibits prescribing marijuana and tasks states that allow it for medical use to “implement strong and effective ... enforcement systems to address any threat those laws could pose to public safety, public health and other interests.” If state regulation is deemed insufficient, the federal government can step in.
That's why many doctors say they feel caught in the middle, not completely sure of where the line is now drawn between legal medical practice and what could get them in trouble. In New York, which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2014, the state health department rolled out a certification program last October. (The state’s medical marijuana program itself launched in January 2016.) The course, which lasts about four hours and costs $249, is part of a larger physician registration process. So far, the state estimates 656 physicians have completed the required steps. Other states have contacted New York’s Department of Health to learn how the training works.
Pennsylvania and Ohio are also developing similar programs. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, doctors who wish to participate in the state medical marijuana program are required to take courses approved by the American Medical Association. Maryland doesn’t require training but encourages it through its Medical Cannabis Commission website, a policy also followed in some other states.
Physicians appear to welcome such direction. A 2013 study in Colorado, for instance, found more than 80% of family doctors thought physicians needed medical training before recommending marijuana. But some advocates worry that doctors may find these requirements onerous and opt out, which would in turn thwart patients’ access to the now-legal therapy, said Ellen Smith, a board member of the U.S. Pain Foundation, which favors expanded access to medical cannabis.
Education is essential, given the complexity of how marijuana interacts with the body and how little physicians know, said Stephen Corn, an associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Harvard Medical School. Corn also co-founded The Answer Page, a medical information website that supports the New York program and is also bidding to supply information for the Pennsylvania program, Corn said....
From a medical standpoint, the lack of information is troubling, Filer said. “Typically, when we’re going to prescribe something, you’ve got data that shows safety and efficacy,” she said. With marijuana, the body of research doesn’t match what many doctors are used to for prescription drugs.
Still, Corn said, doctors appear pleased with the state training sessions. More than 80% of New York doctors who have taken his course said they changed their practice in response to what they learned. But even now, whenever Corn speaks with doctors about medical marijuana, people ask him how they can learn more about the drug’s medical properties and about legal risks. Those two concerns, he said, likely reduce the number of doctors comfortable with and willing to discuss marijuana’s place in medicine, even if it’s allowed in their states.
August 14, 2016 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (2)
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Huffington Post commentary authored by Rob Kampia, who is the co-founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. Here are excerpts:
On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.
Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.
This year has also seen improvements to several existing medical marijuana programs. Colorado adopted “Jack’s Law,” which provides protections for medical marijuana patients who attend public schools. Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont expanded the lists of medical conditions for which patients can qualify to use medical marijuana. Vermont also enacted a law that reduces the required time for a patient-provider relationship from six to three months, allows marijuana to be transferred to research institutions, and requires labeling and child-resistant packaging for edibles sold at dispensaries. Oregon increased access to medical marijuana for veterans who receive assistance from the VA program. In Illinois, Gov. Rauner signed a bill to extend and expand the state’s pilot medical marijuana program, and in Maryland, lawmakers enacted a law allowing nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse midwives to recommend medical marijuana to qualifying patients....
In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.
In states where marijuana is legal for adults, legislators and regulators made notable improvements and progress toward full implementation. In Colorado, lawmakers passed a bill to allow out-of-state ownership of marijuana businesses and increased the amount of marijuana that non-residents may purchase at retail establishments. Colorado also increased local control of testing laboratories and created a new business category for businesses that transport marijuana. And in Washington State, a number of bills were passed to streamline practices in the marijuana industry and make it easier to apply for research licenses.
Alaska regulators began licensing marijuana cultivators and expect to begin issuing retail licenses soon. Oregon is in the process of licensing adult-use marijuana retailers while currently allowing any adult to purchase marijuana from existing medical dispensaries; Oregon also passed comprehensive regulations that, among many other things, increase cooperation between the medical and adult retail programs, exempt patients from being taxed, allow out-of-state investment in marijuana businesses, and protect financial institutions from prosecution under state law for doing business with the marijuana industry.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
With now only three months to Election Day 2016, I thought it useful to reprint the start of this new International Business Times article headlined "Where Will Pot Be Legal Next? Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 5 States On Election Day 2016":
Despite Americans' statistical lack of enthusiasm for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Green Party still has little chance of getting nominee Jill Stein into the White House. But another kind of green is poised to have a big election day this year: recreational marijuana.
Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington might soon have some company in the ranks of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will vote on recreationally legalizing pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November. The states would determine individually what the parameters of legalization would be — California has signaled that recreational pot would be legal for adults over 21 and subject to a 15 percent sales tax.
In addition to those states, four other states — Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri — will have ballot measures this year to make marijuana legal for medical use. The eight ballot measures will be the largest swath of voters weighing in on the issue of marijuana legalization in history. "This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.
By my count, five recreational initiatives and four medical initiatives adds up to NINE ballot issues. Perhaps even more significant if we are counting heads is that around 25% of the entire national population will be voting on marijuana reform issues, making the 2016 election year arguably the closest possible thing to a national referendum on blanket marijuana prohibition. If the majority of these ballot initiatives pass, and especially if the initiaitive pass big in the really big/significant states of California and Florida, I do it will be all but certain that federal marijuana prohibition is reformed in some significant way before the end of the decade.
August 4, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
The title of this post is the title of this notable forthcoming paper authored by Ryan Boudin Stoa available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Marijuana legalization is sweeping the nation. As many as thirty marijuana legalization initiatives may appear on election ballots in 2016, legalizing the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana in as many as 17 states and adding to the growing number of states that have already legalized marijuana. Many of these legalization initiatives propose to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, and many titles are variations of “the regulate marijuana like alcohol act.” For political and public health reasons the analogy makes sense, but it also reveals a regulatory blind spot. States may be using alcohol as a model for regulating the distribution, retail, and consumption of marijuana, but marijuana is much more than a retail product. It is also an agricultural product, and by some measures, the largest cash crop in the United States. Since marijuana prohibition laws were passed long before any regulations for cultivation were developed, states are facing an unprecedented challenge: regulate, for the first time ever, one of the country’s largest agricultural industries.
There are major regulatory challenges ahead, and how states respond to those challenges will shape the course of the marijuana industry. At present there is a gap in understanding the regulatory challenges presented by marijuana agriculture, and the options states have to address them. This Article identifies those challenges and the regulatory approaches most capable of addressing them. The study begins by describing the existing state of marijuana agriculture regulations. States are likely to find that the marijuana industry’s unique characteristics justify a tailored regulatory approach; relying on existing agricultural policies may be ineffectual or lead to perverse outcomes.
Next, fundamental questions about the “marijuana fragmentation spectrum” are explored. Will the industry come to be dominated by agricultural conglomerates mass-producing a marijuana commodity, as many have feared? Or will governments and the industry adopt the appellation model favored by the wine industry, to protect local farmers and differentiate between products? The major environmental impacts of marijuana agriculture are analyzed as well, including regulations that address water allocation, water quality, energy, organic certification, and crop insurance. Finally, the study addresses power distribution trade-offs within marijuana agriculture regulation frameworks, including local vs. state, and consolidated vs. fragmented, regulatory authority dilemmas. The findings suggest that responsible and sustainable marijuana agriculture can be fostered at the state level, but only if regulations are responsive to the unique and unprecedented challenges that marijuana agriculture presents.
August 3, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)