Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Friday, January 12, 2018

US Attorney for Oregon, expressing "significant concerns about the state's current regulatory framework," plans summit in response to new AG enforcement policy

BillBilly J. Williams, the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, has this fascinating new newspaper commentary under the headlined "U.S. Attorney: A call for transparency and action on marijuana." Here is most of what it says:

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum rescinding existing Justice Department guidance on marijuana enforcement. The move gives U.S. Attorneys wide latitude to develop district-specific strategies and deploy department resources without Washington, D.C. artificially declaring some cases off limits. Before developing a strategy for Oregon, however, we need more information from the state.

Here's what we know right now. Oregon has a massive marijuana overproduction problem. In 2017 alone, postal agents in Oregon seized 2,644 pounds of marijuana in outbound parcels and over $1.2 million in cash. For comparison, postal agents in Colorado seized just 984 pounds of marijuana during a four-year period beginning in 2013.

Overproduction creates a powerful profit incentive, driving product from both state-licensed and unlicensed marijuana producers into black and gray markets across the country. This lucrative supply attracts cartels and other criminal networks into Oregon and in turn brings money laundering, violence, and environmental degradation.

A survey of recent federal cases in Oregon illustrates alarming trends: in the last six months, federal agents and port police have seized over $1 million in cash linked to marijuana transactions passing through Portland International Airport; law enforcement partners from 16 states have reported marijuana seizures from Oregon. In the first half of 2017, in-state production of butane hash oil resulted in six separate lab explosions. And police and sheriff deputies regularly encounter vehicles with hundreds of pounds of marijuana on highways heading out of state.

We also know that even recreational marijuana permitted under state law carries ill-effects on public health and safety, as Colorado's experience shows. Since 2013, marijuana-related traffic deaths have doubled in Colorado. Marijuana-related emergency and hospital admissions have increased 35 percent. And youth marijuana use is up 12 percent, 55 percent higher than the national average. We must do everything in our power to avoid similar trends here in Oregon.

As U.S. Attorney, I have traveled throughout the state to meet with community leaders and citizens to discuss distinctive issues facing rural Oregonians.  Many of these conversations quickly turn to marijuana.  Landowners throughout central and southwestern Oregon have legitimate concerns that marijuana cultivation has had a detrimental effect on water rights, public lands and livability.

Rural communities simply do not have the resources to fund the additional police and sheriff deputies needed to address these issues. While state officials have allocated a portion of marijuana tax revenues to public safety organizations including the Oregon State Police, the net effect on enforcement remains an open question. Moreover, can 20 Oregon Liquor Control Commission marijuana enforcement specialists adequately police thousands of recreational licensees?

We don't know the answer to these questions, in part, because the state has yet to release a final version of its report evaluating out-of-state diversion, distribution to minors, cultivation on public land and violent crime associated with marijuana in Oregon.  We need this information to move forward smartly, effectively, and transparently.

In sum, I have significant concerns about the state's current regulatory framework and the resources allocated to policing marijuana in Oregon.

Congress's judgment on marijuana activity is reflected in the Controlled Substances Act.  Before charting a path forward for the enforcement of marijuana in Oregon, we must see how the state mitigates the public safety and health issues raised here.  The time for informed action is now.

In the coming days, I will send invitations to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, public health organizations, Oregon marijuana interests and concerned citizen groups to attend a summit to address and remedy these and other concerns.

This summit and the state's response will inform our federal enforcement strategy.  How we move forward will depend in large measure on how the state responds to the gaps we have identified.  Until then it would be an inappropriate abdication of my duties to issue any blanket proclamations on our marijuana enforcement strategy in light of federal law.

This commentary and its coming echoes confirms what has been one of my thoughts since Attorney General Sessions' recent decision to rescind the Cole Memo (basics here and here): each US Attorney in each US district is now able to be (and perhaps inevitably will become) the chief regulatory officer for marijuana reform in that jurisdiction.  This commentary is a clear statement that this US Attorney is concerned that Oregon's state reforms and regulations are not working, and he is going to have a quasi-regulatory hearing with interested parties, and then (perhaps) he will issue some "regulations" in the form of some explanation of the types of federal marijuana crimes and criminals he will be eager to prosecute in the near future.

January 12, 2018 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

CityLab and Harvard Law Review critically examine Marijuana Justice Act

This notable new CityLab article, headlined "What Does Marijuana Justice Actually Look Like?," unpacks some part of the the Marijuana Justice Act proposed by Senator Cory Booker and it also links to this new Harvard Law Review piece also looking at the MJA. I recommend both pieces, and here is how the HLR piece concludes:

Unlike most legalization efforts advanced thus far that do little to address the legacy of marijuana prohibition, Senator Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act represents an important moment in the conversation surrounding marijuana legalization.  Still, the victims of America’s long and vicious war on drugs deserve more.  Future legislation committed to dealing with the harm exacted by prohibition will have to seriously consider providing a regulatory framework that addresses the racially disparate distribution of the wealth generated by the market for legal marijuana.  A failure to do so represents a missed opportunity.  Absent these regulatory provisions, marijuana legalization threatens to entrench the inequalities exacerbated by the history of prohibition, and reparatory legalization efforts like the Marijuana Justice Act will leave behind a key tool in accounting for the harms they set out to repair.

January 11, 2018 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Study: Legal marijuana could generate more than $132 billion in federal tax revenue and 1 million jobs"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new piece in the Washington Post.  Here is how it gets started:

Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to a new study.

New Frontier Data, a data analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry, forecasts that if legalized on the federal level, the marijuana industry could create an entirely new tax revenue stream for the government, generating millions of dollars in sales tax and payroll deductions. “When there are budget deficits and the like, everybody wants to know where is there an additional revenue stream, and one of the most logical places is to go after cannabis and cannabis taxes,” said Beau Whitney, a senior economist at New Frontier Data.

The analysis shows that if marijuana were fully legal in all 50 states, it would create at least a combined $131.8 billion in in federal tax revenue between 2017 and 2025. That is based on an estimated 15 percent retail sales tax, payroll tax deductions and business tax revenue.

The federal government would reap $51.7 billion in sales tax from a legal marijuana market between 2017 and 2025, entirely new revenue for a business that remains illegal -- and unable to be taxed -- federally. The business tax rate for the study was calculated at 35 percent. The corporate tax rate was lowered to 21 percent in a sweeping tax bill President Trump signed last month.

“If cannabis businesses were legalized tomorrow and taxed as normal businesses with a standard 35 percent tax rate, cannabis businesses would infuse the U.S. economy with an additional $12.6 billion this year,” said Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, the CEO of New Frontier.

The study also calculates that there would be 782,000 additional jobs nationwide if cannabis were legalized today, a number that would increase to 1.1 million by 2025. That includes workers at all ends of the marijuana supply chain, from farmers to transporters to sellers. The study estimates that about 25 percent of the marijuana market will continue to be illicit, and will shrink if the legal marketplace is not overly taxed or expensive.

January 11, 2018 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Vermont legislature brings state to cusp of being first to legalize marijuana through standard legislation

As reported in this AP article, "the Vermont Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow the recreational use of marijuana, putting Vermont on course to become the first state in the country to legalize pot via legislative act rather than through a citizen referendum." Here is more:

By voice vote, the Senate agreed to the proposal that would make it legal for adults to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana but does not set up a system to tax and regulate the production and sale of the drug.  The state House approved the bill last week, and Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he would sign it....

The bill would allow adults older than 21 to possess of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and have two mature marijuana plants or four immature plants in each dwelling unit no matter how many people live there.  State senators who voted against the legislation did not ask for a roll call. The law would take effect July 1.

GOP Sen. Randy Brock of Franklin, Vt., who recently was appointed to fill a vacancy, said he voted against the bill after hearing opposition from educators, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and his constituents. He also was concerned that legalization would conflict with federal law.  "This is a federal question," Brock said. "It needs to be decided federally."

If Scott signs the bill, Vermont will join eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, Washington — and the District of Columbia where possession of small amounts of marijuana are legal for recreational use.

In spring 2016, Vermont's Legislature passed a similar bill, but Scott vetoed it because the Republican thought it didn't do enough to protect children from marijuana and ensure highway safety.  Lawmakers changed the proposal to address the governor's concerns didn't have enough time to pass it during a short veto session in June.

While this bill does not contain a mechanism to tax and regulate marijuana, as some states do, lawmakers who favor legalization hope the bill will prompt the Legislature to do that later. The District of Columbia's pot initiative also does not have a mechanism for sales, regulation and taxation.  "I hope this step leads us to tax and regulate," said Vermont state Sen. Richard Sears, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The expected based on developments last year, this is still very big and important news and arguably start yet another new chapter in the history of marijuana reform. Whether and how the state considers moving forward with a commercial sale regime or sits tight with just legalization is one of many interesting next questions for the state.

January 10, 2018 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Unsurprisingly, Colorado congressional contingent contesting AG Sessions' decision to rescind Cole Memo

Images (5)Two new article from the Denver Post detail the various steps being taken by various members of Congress from Colorado in response to Attorney General Sessions' recent decision to rescind the Cole Memo (basics here and here).  Here are links to the stories and their leads:

"Colorado Congress members send letter to Sessions, urging reinstatement of Cole Memo: Democratic representatives Jared Polis, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, and Republican Rep. Mike Coffman signed the letter"

Colorado congressional legislators fired off a letter Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking that he reconsider last week’s rescission of the Cole Memo and related marijuana guidance. Democratic representatives Jared Polis, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, and Republican Rep. Mike Coffman signed the letter to Sessions.  In it, they “strongly urge” the Department of Justice to reinstate the Cole Memo in order to ensure the Justice Department “is acting to uphold the will of Colorado voters and the rights of the states to regulate intrastate commerce.” 

"Colorado Rep. DeGette convenes delegation to respond to Sessions, discuss federal marijuana protections"

Colorado’s congressional delegation convened an emergency meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to shore up protections for state-legal marijuana operations and, in turn, states’ rights. In the meeting, members advanced plans for federal marijuana protections and honed near- and long-term strategies to counter U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ rescission of the 2013 Cole Memo.

"Cory Gardner to meet with Jeff Sessions after doubling down on threats over marijuana enforcement change: Wednesday’s meeting follows threats Gardner made last week"

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he plans to press Attorney General Jeff Sessions on federal marijuana policy when the two Republicans meet Wednesday.

In an interview, the Republican from Colorado emphasized that he is prepared, if he doesn’t get his way, to block all nominees related to the Department of Justice, including U.S. marshals and U.S. attorneys from other states.  The comments build on threats that Gardner made last week after a decision by Sessions to rescind an Obama-era policy that left alone Colorado and other states that legalized marijuana in spite of federal laws against it.

“It’s my job to protect those states’ rights and states’ decisions,” Gardner said. “I would anticipate it being (Justice) officials.  I would anticipate it being U.S. marshals (and) U.S. attorneys.  But the bottom line is (that) this can be solved by the Department of Justice.”

I will be very interested to see and hear what becomes of Senator Gardner's meeting with AG Sessions.  I am certain the Trump Administration and AG Sessions in particular would not like to see all DOJ nominations blocked as the Senator has been threatening.  But I am also certain AG Sessions in particular would not be too keen on affording Senator Gardner a kind of "heckler's veto" over federal prosecutorial policies. Stay tuned.

Prior related posts:

January 9, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

California legislator proposing state law to automatically expunge past marijuana convictions

Legal Marijuana Oregon Measure 91As reported in this Los Angeles Times article, headlined "California lawmaker wants to make it easier to clear marijuana convictions from criminal records," a lawmaker in California is talking about making a law to make expungement of certain past marijuana convictions automatic. Here are the details:

Proposition 64, approved by California voters in 2016 to legalize recreational pot use, allows people to petition the courts to have past convictions for marijuana offenses expunged from their records. But the process can be difficult and expensive, according to supporters of pot legalization.

In response, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would make it easier to have criminal convictions removed from the records of marijuana users, potentially opening more doors to employment and housing. Rather than require people to petition the courts for a determination, AB 1793 would require criminal convictions for marijuana-related offenses to be automatically expunged, placing the burden on the courts, Bonta said.

“Let’s be honest, navigating the legal system bureaucracy can be costly and time-consuming,” the lawmaker told reporters at the Capitol. His bill, he said, “will give people the fresh start to which they are legally entitled and allow them to move on with their lives.”

Proposition 64 legalizes, among other things, the possession and purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana and allows individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use. The measure also allows people convicted of marijuana possession crimes eliminated by Proposition 64 to petition the court to have those convictions expunged from their records as long as the person does not pose a risk to public safety. They can also petition the court to reduce some crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor, including possession of more than an ounce of marijuana by a person who is 18 or older.

As of September, 4,885 Californians have petitioned the courts to have marijuana convictions expunged or reclassified, but many people don’t know about the process, which can be difficult, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, which supported Proposition 64.

Bonta’s bill was supported Tuesday by alliance state director Laura Thomas and Dale Gieringer, who is the state coordinator of California NORML, another legalization group. The bill, Thomas said, “will help to expedite the ability of people to achieve the promise of restorative justice.”

Some prior related posts:

January 9, 2018 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

"Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this notable new Politico piece with the headline:  "The attorney general has created intolerable uncertainty for a growing industry that is now demanding legal protections from Congress. And lawmakers are listening."  The piece winds down with this remarkable political reality: "As of late Friday, POLITICO Magazine could not find a single member of Congress who had issued a statement in support of Sessions’ actions."  Here is more from thie article:

Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.  It was Republican senators, too. Cory Gardner of Colorado took the Senate floor to issue an ultimatum to Sessions: “I will be putting a hold on every single nomination from the Department of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment he made to me in my pre-confirmation meeting with him. The conversation we had that was specifically about this issue of states’ rights in Colorado.  Until he lives up to that commitment, I’ll be holding up all nominations of the Department of Justice,” Gardner said.  “The people of Colorado deserve answers. The people of Colorado deserve to be respected.” Gardner is no fringe Republican; he’s the chair of the NRSC....

Sessions’ antipathy for a drug that has lost much of its stigma among a wide cross section of Americans has only galvanized disparate factions in Congress to protect an industry that is expected to generate $2.3 billion in state tax revenue by 2020.

Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, who just a few weeks ago declined to comment to POLITICO Magazine about whether he would work to maintain protections for medical marijuana in the 2018 omnibus spending package, tweeted on Thursday, “I'm now fighting to include my amdt in the final omnibus Approps bill so we can protect patients and law-abiding businesses.”

The fact that marijuana has now risen to the height of top-tier budget negotiations is a sign that the pro-marijuana coalition is no longer merely a menagerie of loud-mouth hippies, stoners, and felons, as the pro-pot crowd has been characterized in the past. The community of Americans who now rely on legal medical marijuana, estimated to be 2.6 million people in 2016, includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, and parents of epileptic children. The American Legion, a conservative veterans organization by any measure, has voted twice in favor of resolutions to expand research and safe access for its members.

“The American Legion has been a leading advocate for the removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to enable greater research into the medical efficacy of the drug to treat ailments that impact veterans such as PTSD and chronic pain,” Joe Plenzler, Director of Media Relations for The American Legion, told POLITICO Magazine — which means Jeff Sessions just crossed the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.

By the end of the day on Thursday, in a conference call of five members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, lawmakers from four of the eight states that have approved recreational marijuana railed about Sessions’ unconstitutional assault on the rights of their states to decide their own affairs. On that call, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher said that the move by Sessions to strike a blow against marijuana has had the inverse effect of raising the attention from what had previously been a states’ issue but has now become a national priority. “It’s a big plus for our efforts that the federal government is now aware that our constituents have been alerted,” Rohrabacher said. "We can be confident we can win this fight, because this is a freedom issue.”

Prior related posts:

January 6, 2018 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two notable new reviews of efforts to enhance racial equity in modern marijuana markets

Two major news sources have run two major recent pieces about efforts in California to enhance minority participation in the marijuana industry:

From the Washington Post here, "California cities try to atone for war on drugs with help for minority marijuana entrepreneurs." An excerpt:

At least four California cities — Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco — have created “equity programs” to help people personally affected by the war on drugs or who come from communities that bore the brunt of it get an early stake in the legal cannabis business.

The goal is to attempt to atone for past policies that perpetuated generational poverty and to diversify an industry whose profile is overwhelmingly young, white, male and wealthy. “The folks who are profiting don’t look anything like the people bearing the brunt of the war on drugs,” said Greg Minor, who runs Oakland’s cannabis program.

From the Los Angeles Times here, "Despite helping hand from L.A., drug offenders would face obstacles in cannabis industry." An excerpt:

As California’s legal cannabis industry heats up, officials in Los Angeles and other cities say they want to make sure early players in the pot business who were selling it when it was still illegal aren’t pushed out of the market. In Los Angeles and Oakland, city cannabis rules provide for so-called social-equity programs, which provide a leg up to marijuana business license applicants who either have been convicted of a marijuana crime or live in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.

But many of the entrepreneurs who might benefit from those programs would face a huge obstacle: Most banks won’t open accounts for marijuana businesses, and the few institutions that are willing to do so are likely to refuse to serve businesses whose owners or managers have criminal records, even if those records are for selling marijuana.

January 6, 2018 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Countdown to California's new cannabis consumerism

It has already been 14 months since Californians voted, by a margin of 57% to 43%, to pass Proposition 64 in the 2016 election, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. And while part of that Act became effective right away, the initiative provided that retail locations for recreational marijuana would not be opening until January 2018 at the earliest. But now January 2018 is here, and lots of media have been providing lots of accounts of what the expect as California becomes a state with marijuana not only legalized, but also commercialized. Here is a just a small sampling of some coverage and commentary from a variety of sources:

December 31, 2017 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"At 'pot churches,' marijuana is the sacrament" ... and creating legal issues

Images (4)This prior post discussed holiday gifting of marijuana, and this article (which has a headline serving as part of the title of this post) provides another distinctive seasonable perspective on how modern marijuana reform echoes through various parts of modern life.  Here are highlights:

Services at the Coachella Valley Church begin and end with the Lord’s Prayer.  In between, there is the sacrament.  “Breathe deep and blow harder,” intoned Pastor Grant Atwell after distributing marijuana joints to 20 worshipers on a recent Sunday.  “Nail the insight down, whether you get it from marijuana or prayer. Consider what in your own life you are thankful for.”

A man wearing a “Jesus Loves You” baseball cap and toting a shofar, piped up. “Thank you, God, for the weed,” he called out. “I’m thankful for the spirit of cannabis,” a woman echoed from the back.  “I am grateful to be alive,” said another young woman, adding that she had recently overdosed — on what, she did not say — for the third time.   The small room, painted black and gold and decorated with crosses and Rastafarian symbols, filled with pungent smoke after an hour-long service of Christian prayers, self-help slogans and inspirational quotes led by Atwell, a Campbell, Calif., massage therapist and photographer.

Despite its mainstream Christian trappings, the Coachella Valley Church describes itself as a Rastafarian church, which is tough to define.  Originating in Jamaica and combining elements of Christianity, pan-Africanism and mysticism, Rastafari is a political and religious movement with no central authority.  Adherents use marijuana in their rituals.  The church’s leaders claim that religious freedom laws give them the right to offer marijuana to visitors without a doctor’s recommendation or abiding by regulations.  Some authorities beg to differ.

As more states ease access to marijuana, churches that offer pot as a sacrament are proliferating, competing with medical marijuana dispensaries and pot shops in the few states that have legalized recreational weed. While some claim Rastafari affiliation, others link themselves to Native American religious traditions.

The churches are vexing local officials, who say they’re simply dispensaries in disguise, skirting the rules that govern other marijuana providers, such as requirements to pay taxes.

In California, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and is preparing for sales of recreational marijuana to begin Jan. 1, churches tied to marijuana use have recently popped up in Oakland, Roseville, Modesto and San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. A few have been shut down by law enforcement.  “I’m not going to say they’re not churches, but to the extent that they’re distributing marijuana, they’re an illegal dispensary, in my view,” said San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle....

Nationally, such churches have opened in Indiana, where marijuana remains illegal, and Michigan, where medical marijuana is allowed.  Even in Colorado, which legalized pot in 2012, the “International Church of Cannabis” is testing the limits of state and city rules on consuming marijuana in public.  Marijuana churches typically require people to purchase a membership, then give or sell them marijuana and related products.  They may ask for ID such as a driver’s license but don’t require a doctor’s recommendation or medical marijuana identification card.

The churches rely on court rulings that made it possible for some groups, including Native Americans, to use federally banned drugs like peyote in religious ceremonies. Despite these rulings, courts have thus far rejected religious groups’ right to use marijuana, still illegal at the federal level, said Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia Law School professor specializing in religious liberty issues.  Yet, he said, as more states legalize marijuana, courts may regard marijuana churches’ rights more favorably.

“Legalization changes everything,” Laycock said. “Religious use may not violate state law in some of these states. And if it does, legalizing recreational use but not religious use clearly discriminates against religion.”

December 24, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Religion, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 22, 2017

"Joy to the weed! Marijuana legalization comes bearing gifts"

Joy to the world printable four stylesThe title of this post is the headline of this AP article which provides an interesting review of ganja gifting goings-on this holiday season.  Here are excerpts:

Peter Bernard’s Yuletide plans include dressing up in a tuxedo emblazoned with marijuana leaves, donning a green Santa hat and doling out cookie bars made with marijuana to his friends from a big pillowcase. “That’s me exercising my right to give marijuana this Christmas,” said Bernard, a Taunton, Massachusetts, pot lover who heads the Massachusetts Growers Advocacy Council when not doubling as “Pot Santa” at events for weed enthusiasts.

Not everyone’s plans are quite so flamboyant, but for many pot lovers, this Christmas is much more about reefer than wreaths. Gift-giving has long been a part of marijuana culture, and the drug’s newly legal status is a source of Yuletide celebration in four states.

Voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana last year, and some residents of those states will legally stuff stockings with spliffs for the first time this Christmas. Because retail sales are operating in only one of those states — Nevada — Bernard and others excited about legalized pot said homegrown marijuana is one particularly popular gift.

“I figure, I’ve got all this pot, I might as well just give it away for Christmas,” said James MacWilliams, of Portland, Maine, who started growing weed when it became legal and is giving away fancy jars of his stash this year. “I told my friends, you’re all getting a little bit of pot for Christmas.”...

Statistics about legal sales of marijuana suggest a modest bump around the holidays. In the four states where it was already legal, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, it has been “generally a good month,” slightly ahead of November and January, said Roy Bingham, chief executive officer of BDS Analytics, a firm that compiles data about the pot industry. December sales accounted for 9.38 percent of sales revenue in Colorado last year, which is one percentage point above average, according to statistics provided by the firm....

Legalization means pot lovers can legally do something they’ve always done, which is give away marijuana to people they love, said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “People consume cannabis on the holidays and they always have,” Smith said. “Now they are doing so through a regulated system.”

The drug remains illegal on the federal level, which means activities such as driving it across state lines or sending it through the mail are off limits. An elderly couple was arrested near Bradshaw, Nebraska, on Tuesday with about 60 pounds of marijuana they described as future Christmas gifts.

December 22, 2017 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Notable coverage of notable marijuana reform public health issues in Nov 2017 issue of Preventive Medicine

1-s2_0-S0091743517X00108-cov150hI have just seen that the November 2017 issue of Preventive Medicine has a series of articles on the "potential health impacts of legalizing recreational marijuana use," and that series is described in an editorial introduction this way:

Legalization of marijuana use has gained considerable momentum in the U.S. with 28 states plus the District of Columbia (DC) legalizing medical marijuana use and 8 states plus DC legalizing recreational marijuana use, with similar liberalization of laws occurring in Canada and other countries (NYTimes, April 13, 2017).  Such actions clearly have tremendous public health implications and it is important that those implications be considered using the best available scientific evidence.

In this Special Issue we invited policy makers from Colorado (Ghosh et al., 2017, in this issue), the first U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use, Vermont (Chen and Searles, 2017, in this issue), a state currently considering legalization of recreational use, and the U.S.’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (Weiss and Wargo, 2017, in this issue) to provide a federal perspective on the health implications of legalizing recreational marijuana use.

In addition to policy makers we invited contributions from scientific experts in the health impacts of marijuana use to address the implications of legalizing recreational marijuana use, including potential impacts on the epidemiology of marijuana use and risk perceptions among youth and adults (Carliner et al., 2017, in this issue), emergency medicine (Wang et al., 2017, in this issue), addiction risk (Budney and Borodovsky, 2017, in this issue), adolescent risks and potential interventions (Schuster et al., 2017; Walker, 2017, in this issue), and maternal and child health (Mark and Terplan, 2017, in this issue).

Here are just some of the titles of some of the notable article in the issue:

  • "Lessons learned after three years of legalized, recreational marijuana: The Colorado experience"
  • "Cannabis use, attitudes, and legal status in the U.S.: A review"
  • "Marijuana and acute health care contacts in ColoradoOriginal Research Article" 
  • "The potential impact of cannabis legalization on the development of cannabis use disorders"
  • "Legalization of cannabis: Considerations for intervening with adolescent consumers"

December 21, 2017 in Medical community perspectives, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Making the case that the end of marijuana prohibition in Colorado has not really had much of an impact on much

Download (5)Antony Davies and James Harrigan have this notable new commentary at US News & World Report headlined "Marijuana Doomsday Didn't Come: Those who thought Colorado's legalization would be a catastrophe were wrong then and are wrong now." Here is how it starts and ends:

It's been a little more than five years since Colorado's voters approved Constitutional Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state.  Sales commenced four years ago this January.  Although the amendment passed by a comfortable 10-point margin, the debate in Colorado has continued in the years since prohibition ended, most recently flaring up with an editorial published in the Colorado Springs Gazette.  Last month, the Gazette's editorial board referred to what has happened in Colorado as "an embarrassing cautionary tale," before presenting a laundry list of the purported ill-effects of the change in the law.

That list included everything from the smell of burning marijuana, to increased homelessness, to rampant teen drug use, to a doubling of the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents who test positive for marijuana.  This last charge is particularly puzzling as there is no reliable DUI test for marijuana, and drug tests can't distinguish between marijuana ingested immediately before driving and marijuana ingested a month or more before driving.  Not to be dissuaded by science, the editorial board went so far as to quote Marijuana Accountability Coalition founder Justin Luke Riley, who holds that legal marijuana is "devastating our kids and devastating whole communities."

All of this is doubtlessly music to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' ears, who is presently making noise about increasing the federal government's involvement in the fight against legalization.  Sessions is on record as saying that "good people don't smoke marijuana."  He has also supported the death penalty for marijuana dealers, lest there be any doubt which way he breaks on matters of drug prohibition. He recently went so far as to refer to marijuana as "a life-wrecking dependency" which is only "slightly less awful" than heroin.

Between Sessions and the Colorado Springs Gazette one could be forgiven for thinking that marijuana legalization is one of the most pernicious political decisions made in the modern era.  Except it isn't. And there is a pretty significant body of evidence that indicates as much....

Marijuana opponents like Sessions are quick to identify all sorts of evils that will befall society in the wake of legalization.  What opponents conveniently ignore are the myriad evils that befall society precisely because of prohibition.  Today, over half a million Americans are arrested each year for marijuana possession.  That's more than are arrested annually for all violent crimes combined.  Each one of those half-million annual arrests represents a family that is subjected to financial, psychic and sometimes physical harm from police, prosecutors and courts.

Enough is enough. Evidence from Colorado shows that marijuana legalization does not lead to increased teen usage, does not lead to increased homelessness, and does not lead to societal breakdown.  If marijuana does destroy lives, it is only because zealots like Sessions make it so.  Saving people from themselves at the cost of their liberty is, generally speaking, a bad idea.  When it comes to marijuana it is an especially bad idea.  And all the lies and distortions of the truth will not change that.

December 19, 2017 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

More reporting suggesting Vermont will very soon enact a novel form of marijuana legalization via a not-so-novel means

6a00d8341bfae553ef01b8d2812d0c970c-320wiI explained in this post last week, "Could Vermont legalize marijuana by traditional legislation in just a matter of weeks?," how notable and valuable it could be, for policy-makers, citizens and researchers, to have a state embrace a distinctive approach to marijuana legalization through the traditional legislative law-making process.  As noted in posts link below, Vermont got very close but then failed to be a first in this arena back in May,  and thus I am not taking for granted that the state will make marijuana reform history in early January.  But this recent Forbes piece by Tom Angell continues to highlight why the Green Mountain State could kick of 2018 with a marijuana reform bang.   The piece is headlined "Vermont Will Legalize Marijuana Within Weeks, Officials Indicate," and here are excerpts: 

Vermont appears poised to become the next state to legalize marijuana. And, according to top elected officials, it is likely to do so within a matter of weeks.

Last week, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, a Democrat, said she expects "it likely will pass in early January.” Days earlier, Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, said he is "comfortable" signing a cannabis legalization bill into law in early 2018.

And on Thursday, Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, a member of the Progressive Party, said he and his colleagues "look forward to working with the governor to make sure that that bill gets to the finish line."

If the tripartisan group of officials follows through and enacts legalization in early 2018, it would make Vermont the first state to end cannabis prohibition by an act of lawmakers. All eight states that have legalized marijuana so far have done so via ballot measures approved by voters....

In Vermont, which operates on a legislative biennium, the Senate has already passed the legalization bill. All that is required to get it to Scott's desk for signing into law is one more House floor vote, and that could happen any day after the legislature reconvenes on January 3.

In 2017, the state fell just short of ending marijuana prohibition. Both legislative chambers approved a legalization proposal, but Scott vetoed it. However, the governor then laid out a few small revisions he wanted legislators to make in order to garner his signature. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested changes, but the House wasn't able to overcome procedural hurdles to pass the revised bill in time during a short special session over the summer. The legislation remains on the House calendar, and can be approved with a simple majority under regular order next month.

Under the bill, Vermont’s approach to legalization would differ from the regulatory systems that exist in the other eight legalization states. That's because instead of allowing licensed stores where consumers could purchase marijuana, it would simply enact a noncommercial form of legalization where possessing small amounts of cannabis and growing a few plants at home would be legal. However, the Senate-approved legislation would create a commission to study possible future commercialization.

During the legislative recess, Scott used an executive order to proactively create a marijuana legalization study commission on his own, so there is a chance that the pending bill will be amended to remove its commission provisions before lawmakers vote on final passage. And that could potentially mean that it will take slightly more time than just one additional House floor vote. “Part of that bill is no longer needed,” Scott said this month, referring to the commission piece.

While saying that he has not yet “spoken to legislative leaders” about the language, he suggested lawmakers might want to “make some changes on the floor, send it back to committee, make some alterations and then we’ll see what they either add or delete and then we’ll see if it’s the same as what I committed to pushing forward with.” But accomplishing those changes likely would not take very long, advocates say, given the consensus between legislative leaders and Scott on getting legalization enacted that seemed to crystalize during the 2017 session....

Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, agreed, adding that success in Vermont will likely signal the start of a wave of legislative action on cannabis in other states. "Vermont now finds itself on the cusp of becoming the first state to legalize marijuana through its legislature," he said in an email. "The legislative process is slower than the [ballot] initiative process by its very nature, but this exciting development should bring hope to the millions of reform supporters who live in states that don't allow initiatives. I'm confident that other state legislatures will soon follow their lead."

A few prior related posts:

December 17, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Taking a lengthy look at the ever-uncertain state of federal marijuana policies and practices

Jeff-Sessions-marijuana-702x336Politico magazine has this lengthy (but somewhat superficial) article on the current state of federal marijuana debate and discourse under this full headline: "Jeff Sessions Isn’t Giving up on Weed. He’s Doubling Down. Congressional dysfunction may do what the pot-hating attorney general hasn’t managed to do all year: Remove protections for the booming legal weed industry."  The article is worth reading in full, and here are excerpts from the start of the article that in part explain my "superficial" adjective:

“I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law, Senator Leahy,” Sessions replied [to a question at his confirmation hearing], suppressing a slight smirk.  That double negative tightened the knot in every drug policy reformer’s gut.  Exactly how vulnerable were the nascent marijuana industries in the 29 states where it was now legal? Would Sessions, who rarely misses an opportunity to bemoan the scourge of marijuana, sweep aside the paper-thin order imposed by the Obama administration that had stayed the enforcement hand of the Department of Justice? Would SWAT teams arrest wheelchair-bound medical marijuana patients, raid marijuana dispensaries and shut down the high-tech growhouses that supplied them?

The dreaded crackdown never materialized. Sessions, perhaps preoccupied with other priorities like keeping his volatile boss from firing him, remained largely inactive on the subject.  Meanwhile, a series of incremental advancements on the pro-marijuana front helped to further enmesh the $9.7 billion industry into the commercial fabric of the nation, 60 percent of whose residents support some form of legal pot.  California opened the doors to recreational marijuana and issued regulations for outdoor marijuana festivals; Florida began its implementation of a medical marijuana program; and Denver and Las Vegas are vying to become the first city in America to legalize “marijuana consumption lounges” (think high-end bars with expensive weed choices instead of booze).  Sessions, for his part, has spent his time in testy exchanges with DOJ interns and convening meetings with small groups of like-minded anti-pot activists determined to roll back state-level momentum. “I do believe … that the public is not properly educated on some of the issues related to marijuana,” he told one such group on Friday.

But things are suddenly looking rosier for Sessions.  Thanks to Congress’ fumbling over the spending bill, the AG’s yearning to battle legal marijuana may get a major boost without him having to lift a finger.  That’s because Rohrabacher-Farr, a little-known and even less discussed amendment that protects state-legal medical marijuana programs from federal interference, is close to expiring.  If the government shuts down at the expiration of the current continuous resolution on December 22, or if negotiations in an upcoming appropriations conference committee fail to insert it in the final draft of the spending bill — entirely possible given House Republicans’ hostility to marijuana — Sessions would be free to unleash federal drug agents on a drug, which according to federal drug law, is considered the equal of heroin and LSD.

The politics on this issue has shifted so dramatically that reform advocates, instead of quaking in their boots at Sessions’ saber rattling, are actually itching for the fight. “Part of me just thinks: Let ‘em try. There will such a ferocious backlash,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Portland, Oregon, told POLITICO Magazine in response to a question about a potential Sessions-led crackdown.  (Blumenauer replaced Sam Farr as the amendment’s Democratic co-sponsor after Farr’s retirement, so in a turn that does not help its branding efforts, Rohrabacher-Farr is now called Rohrabacher-Blumenauer.)  Morgan Fox, communications manager of the Marijuana Policy Project, agreed with Blumenauer: “There’s no way that Sessions can start rolling back medical marijuana policies or attacking patients and providers without looking like the bad guy.”

Still, with the legislative barrier gone, there would be plenty of ways for Sessions to make life difficult for marijuana businesses without creating dramatic footage for the nightly news.  Fox worries less about SWAT team raids than the possibility the Department of Justice would quietly send letters to landlords who rented to legal marijuana businesses to threaten them with asset forfeiture.  People would be forgiven for thinking that state-legal medical marijuana was a settled issue, but in fact it is hanging by a thread, and Congress is poised to hand Jeff Sessions the scissors.

The rest of this article usefully reviews critical statements by AG Sessions about legalized marijuana, and also discusses the current state and politics surrounding the Cole Memo and the (soon to expire) congressional limit on DOJ spending to prosecute medical marijuana businesses.  But I call this article "superficial" because it does not discuss in any detail just whether and how AG Sessions would be able to effectively "unleash federal drug agents," particularly as to players in the medical marijuana arena. 

As this excerpt usefully highlights, there are "plenty of ways for Sessions to make life difficult for marijuana businesses without creating dramatic footage for the nightly news," but none of those ways have been used at all by the Sessions-led Justice Department for now 11 months in power.  And during those 11 months, Nevada (and soon California) has joined a handful of other active western recreational marijuana states, and swing states like Florida and Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen medical marijuana regulations emerge and an industry start to develop.  Especially as an ever-growing number of red states are embracing significant medical marijuana programs (e.g., Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia), it seems there are an ever-growing number of GOP politicians who would be very troubled if AG Sessions started a very serious crack-down on the state-legal medical marijuana industry.

For reasons I somewhat explained/predicted in this post last year, I think AG Sessions' political instincts have led him to (rightly) believe it would not be a good use of his (or the President's) political capital to take on state marijuana reforms aggressively.  And, especially with the seemingly anti-Trump outcomes in recent elections in Alabama, New Jersey and Virginia, I do not think the politics are really any easier now.  I do think that opponents of marijuana reform are coming to believe and fear that, without an enforcement push by AG Sessions very soon, additional state-level reforms in 2018 and beyond will make curtailing the industry even that much harder in the future.  And so I am sure prohibitionists are pushing hard for AG Sessions to do something, anything, to slow the tides of marijuana reforms.  So maybe prosecution/forfeiture letters are being written as I type this.  Stay tuned.

December 16, 2017 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 11, 2017

New talk about a new marijuana legalization initiaitive in Ohio from some old voices

As reported in this local article, headlined "Anyone over 21 could grow weed at home under proposed Ohio ballot initiative," there is some new talk about a new initiative to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State. Here are the details:

A group of local investors who failed in their bid to secure a state license to grow medical marijuana on Monday announced plans for a statewide ballot issue to fully legalize marijuana.

Jimmy Gould, chairman of Cincinnati-based Green Light Acquisitions, proposed an Ohio constitutional amendment that would allow anyone 21 or older to grow marijuana in their homes for personal use or commercial cultivation. Gould said the ballot issue would not conflict with Ohio's current medical marijuana law but would expand legalized marijuana use among qualified adults without a physician's recommendation.

Gould said he would need 305,592 signatures to place the issue before Ohio voters next year. His group plans to finalize the language in the proposal and begin circulating it next month. The initial filing deadline for the ballot proposal is July 4, 2018. Gould is a longtime proponent of decriminalizing marijuana, which he said can be a useful tool for dealing with a variety of chronic conditions, including the opioid addiction crisis that has plagued Ohio.

He co-founded the group ResponsibleOhio, which was behind Ohio's failed Issue 3 marijuana initiative in 2015 that would have legalized marijuana for both medical and non-medical use. The measure lost in all 88 Ohio counties, with nearly two-thirds of voters statewide voting "no" to recreational and medical marijuana.

But the new proposal "is as different from Issue 3 as night and day," Gould said. "We spent a lot of time and effort to get this right. This is not Issue 3 revisited.'' Gould said the new ballot proposal is a responsible way to fully legalize marijuana use, cultivation, possession, processing and dispensing, and regulate it like alcohol-related businesses in Ohio.

In addition, the new proposal tosses out many of the contentious items that Gould blames for Issue 3's ultimate defeat, including designating certain properties as the only places in Ohio where the cannabis plant could be legally grown. Critics charged the stipulation would have benefitted only a handful of mega-growers. "The concept of the rich getting richer goes right out the window with this," Gould said.

Gould said another reason he thinks now is the right time to introduce a new marijuana initiative is that "a lot of time has gone by" since Issue 3 was defeated, and more Americans are inclined to support legalized marijuana based on studies, opinion polls and the sheer number of states that have adopted such laws over the past several years....

Gould said his new ballot initiative would "run parallel" to a lawsuit he plans to file against the state after his firm, CannAscend Ohio, and dozens of other applicants were denied "Level 1" licenses for large-scale medical marijuana growers.

The Ohio Department of Commerce earlier this month awarded 12 preliminary Level 1 licenses based on what Gould alleges was a deeply flawed selection process and the use of questionable application graders, including one who was a convicted drug dealer. "That stuff is just not OK," Gould said. "Commerce feel asleep at the wheel. They either didn’t know, or they didn’t do background checks" on the application graders.

I am tempted to not take this new talk of a new initiative all that seriously because right now it seems a bit like the expression of sour grapes (sour weed?) based on the failure of Gould to get a state "Level 1" license. But Gould and his team were able to get a (poorly conceived) initiative to the voters back in 2015, and maybe they really want to and really can do it again in 2018.

December 11, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Could Vermont legalize marijuana by traditional legislation in just a matter of weeks?

6a00d8341bfae553ef01b8d2812d0c970c-320wiThe question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable new report from Tom Angell under the headline "Will Legalize Marijuana In Early January, House Speaker Says." Here are the details:

A top Vermont lawmaker says the state could become the first in the U.S. to legalize marijuana through an act of lawmakers early next year.  “It will be up for a vote in early January,” House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) said on Friday. “I expect that it likely will pass in early January.”

In 2017, the state fell just short of enacting legalization. The legislature passed a bill to legalize personal cannabis possession and homegrow, but Gov. Phil Scott (R) vetoed it. However, in doing so, he laid out a few small changes he wanted legislators to make in order to win his support.  The Senate quickly acted to make the requested revisions, but the House was not able to jump through procedural hurdles to get it done in time during a short special session over the summer.

Because the legislature operates on a biennial basis, the bill is still alive, and the House just needs to take one more vote to get the bill onto the governor’s desk.  Last week, Scott said he is “comfortable” signing a marijuana legalization bill into law early next year.

Johnson, in the Friday interview with Vermont Public Radio, said there “hasn’t been a significant shift” in support in the legislature since the momentum for legalization that built up earlier this year. “We do have agreement with the governor and with the Senate on what that bill currently says,” she said....

Vermont’s approach would be different than the laws that exist in other states, in that it would enact a noncommercial form of legalization where only possessing small amounts of cannabis and growing a few plants at home would be legal. There would initially be no licensed stores where consumers could purchase marijuana, but the Senate-passed legislation would create a commission to study possible future commercialization....

Johnson, in the new interview, said the commission “will provide some suggestions for further action,” such as potentially legalizing and regulating cannabis sales. “We’ll be looking into further legislation to really go about this in as thoughtful and responsible a way as possible,” she said.

I was disappointed by the veto of the marijuana reform bill that Vermont's legislature passed last year in large part because I think it could be extremely valuable, to both policy-makers and researchers, to have a state embrace a distinctive approach to marijuana legalization. Now I am excited anew that this distinctive approach to marijuana legalization may still soon become law in the Green Mountain State.

In the article linked above, Tom Angell notes that marijuana reform advocates have been watching New Jersey closely as a state that might in early 2018 enacted marijuana legalization through the traditional legislative process. For various reasons, I think action in New Jersey becomes even more likely if Vermont becomes the first state to legalize through the usual legislative process.

A few prior related posts from May 2017:

"Vermont Legislature becomes first to approve legal marijuana"

Vermont Governor vetoes bill to legalize marijuana in state .... UPDATED with Gov's explanation for his veto

December 11, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Looking into challenges facing communities of color in the marijuana industry

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

Drug Policy Alliance, "Race and the Drug War"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 2, 2017

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

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

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

5 Reasons Legalizing Pot Is Good for the Planet

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Taking a close look at "Big Pharma's Anti-Marijuana Campaign"

As mentioned in a prior post, my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is hitting its homestretch and the last group of students are delivering presentations on a marijuana-related topic of their choosing. One student for the next class will be looking at what she is calling "Big Pharma's Anti-Marijuana Campaign."  Here is how she has explained her plans, following by links to background information regarding the topic:

My presentation will reveal how Big Pharma contributes to the Opioid Epidemic, how marijuana can be used as a substitute for opioids, how the legalization of medical marijuana threatens the bottom lines of pharmaceutical giants, and how these corporations have subsequently opposed pro-pot legislation.

NIH data on "Overdose Death Rates"

"Can Medical Marijuana Help End the Opioid Epidemic?"

"Patients Are Ditching Opioid Pills for Weed: Can marijuana help solve the opioid epidemic?"

"Is Big Pharma Out to Stop — Or Take Over — Marijuana Legalization?"

"The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal: Opponents of marijuana-law reform insist that legalization is dangerous — but the biggest threat is to their own bottom line."

November 26, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)