Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Robust coverage of rescheduling at Marijuana Moment

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Biden Administration moves federal marijuana rescheduling forward to start public comment period

ImagesAs reported in this Washington Post piece, "President Biden on Thursday publicly endorsed the Justice Department’s recommendation to loosen restrictions on marijuana, a long-expected measure that marks a historic shift in the nation’s drug policy." Here is more on an important next step in the rescheduling process:

The Justice Department, after receiving the go-ahead from the White House, published an official notice, opening a two-month period for the public to comment on the proposed change. The rule reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III controlled substance would not go into effect until afterward.

Marijuana would not be legalized federally, but would move out of the Schedule I category reserved for tightly controlled substances such as heroin and LSD. If the rule goes into effect, marijuana will join a category including prescription drugs such as ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone....

The move comes a little more than two weeks after Attorney General Merrick Garland recommended to the White House that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule III substance. The recommendation was applauded by cannabis supporters who for decades have complained that the federal government exaggerated the dangers of the drug.

Marijuana’s Schedule I status means it is tightly controlled because the federal government sees no proven medical value and a high potential for abuse. Stripping that designation would provide researchers easier access to cannabis and allow marijuana companies to deduct business expenses from their tax bills — a boon for an industry that has struggled because of high operating costs and competition from the illicit market. “Our ultimate goal is federal legalization, and we see Schedule III as a necessary and critical step along the way,” Edward Conklin, executive director of industry group U.S. Cannabis Council, said in a statement....

Some cannabis advocates say reclassification is an incremental step that doesn’t address the fundamental disconnect between the federal criminalization of the drug and the reality that a majority of Americans live in states where they can legally buy it. The implications of rescheduling for existing legal state markets are especially murky because marijuana has not been treated as a federally regulated medicinal product sold at pharmacies.

Meanwhile, cannabis critics fault the Biden administration for normalizing a drug that can still be harmful to individual and public health. Reclassification of marijuana — which is opposed by some former federal law enforcement officials, some Republicans in Congress and the anti-cannabis group Smart Approaches to Marijuana — could be delayed again by legal and regulatory challenges.

In announcing this move, the Justice Department released its formal federal register rule which will  start a 60-day comment period, as well as this 36-page document from the  Office of Legal Counsel detailing legal arguments surrounding rescheduling issues.

May 16, 2024 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 13, 2024

New MPP report reviews "Cannabis Tax Revenue in States that Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use"

56154b75-92e7-402c-9346-7513b42e537f_1920x1080The Marijuana Policy Project has recently released this new report titled "Cannabis Tax Revenue in States that Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use." The report has lots of state-ny-state tax data, and here is how it gets startd:

Legalizing cannabis for adults has been a wise investment.  Since 2014 when sales began in Colorado and Washington, legalization policies have provided states a new revenue stream to bolster budgets and fund important services and programs.  Through the first quarter of 2024, states have reported a combined total of more than $20 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales.  In 2023 alone, legalization states generated more than $4 billion in cannabis tax revenue from adult-use sales, which is the most revenue generated by cannabis sales in a single year.  In addition to revenue generated for statewide budgets, cities, and towns have also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue from local adult-use cannabis taxes.

Twenty-four states have legalized cannabis possession for adults 21 and older.  All but one of them — Virginia — have also legalized, regulated, and taxed cannabis sales. In two legalization states — Delaware and Ohio — sales have not begun yet.

In many states with legal, adult-use cannabis sales, tax revenues are allocated for social services and programs. This includes funding education, school construction, early literacy, public libraries, bullying prevention, behavioral health, alcohol and drug treatment, veterans’ services, conservation, job training, conviction expungement expenses, and reinvestment in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the war on cannabis, among many others.

This document reviews each legalization state’s adult-use cannabis tax structure, population, and year-by-year adult-use cannabis tax revenue.  States are listed in chronological order, based on when state-legal cannabis sales began, with the most mature markets first.  These figures include cannabis excise taxes and states’ standard sales taxes that are applied to cannabis.  They do not include medical cannabis tax revenue, application and licensing fees paid by cannabis businesses, additional income taxes generated by workers in the cannabis industry, or taxes paid to the federal government.

May 13, 2024 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

"Local Moratoriums for Ohio Adult Use Marijuana Operators"

The title of this post is the heading for this terrific new resource page just posted along with other Policy and Data Analyses at the website of The Ohio State University's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (which I help direct).  Here is how the resource is introduced:

In November 2023, 57% of Ohio voters voted for Issue 2, a ballot initiative which legalized adult recreational marijuana use and tasked the Ohio Departments of Commerce and Development with implementing a legal recreational cannabis industry in the state.  As of December 7, 2023, individuals 21 years and older can legally consume and possess marijuana throughout Ohio, although recreational dispensaries are not expected to open until the summer or early fall of 2024.  Like most other states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, Ohio allows local jurisdictions to enact ordinances to prohibit or limit the operation of adult-use cannabis businesses within their boundaries.  This page presents information on 47 local moratoriums that have been enacted by Ohio jurisdictions as of March 31, 2024.

May 7, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

"The False Promise of Rescheduling"

The title of this post is the title of this timely new paper authored by Robert Mikos and now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

The federal government appears poised to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Advocates have suggested the move will generate substantial benefits for the state-licensed marijuana industry, which has struggled to secure basic legal and business services under federal prohibition.  But this Essay serves as a reality check.  It suggests the expectations surrounding rescheduling are highly inflated, for two reasons.

First, rescheduling still might not happen.  To reschedule marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would have to change its long-standing interpretation of key statutory scheduling criteria.  Even if the Biden Administration were willing to do that (the jury is still out), a future Administration might reconsider.  If President Biden loses the fall 2024 election, nothing would stop his successor from quickly returning marijuana to the tightly regulated Schedule I.

Second, even if it happens, rescheduling to a lower schedule under the CSA will not greatly improve the fortunes of the marijuana industry.  The CSA will continue to impose a litany of restrictions on the manufacture and sale of marijuana.  What is more, the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) will still ban all interstate commerce in the drug.  (Marijuana would still not be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, post-rescheduling.)  If firms in the industry fail to comply with the rules imposed by these two statutes — as seems almost inevitable — they could still be denied banking, bankruptcy protection, intellectual property protection, contract enforcement, and other key services, just as they are today.  The Essay suggests that only Congress can remove all these challenges. To obtain more impactful and comprehensive reforms to federal marijuana policy, advocates should eschew the false promise of administrative rescheduling and focus instead on convincing Congress to enact reform legislation.

May 1, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Widespread new reporting that DEA is rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act

ImagesAs reported in this new AP article, the "U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, The Associated Press has learned, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country."  Here is more on a legal developments that has been expected, but is still a very big deal:

The DEA’s proposal, which still must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. However, it would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use. The agency’s move, confirmed to the AP on Tuesday by five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive regulatory review, clears the last significant regulatory hurdle before the agency’s biggest policy change in more than 50 years can take effect.

Once OMB signs off, the DEA will take public comment on the plan to move marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. It moves pot to Schedule III, alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids, following a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department. After the public comment period and a review by an administrative judge, the agency would eventually publish the final rule....

Biden and a growing number of lawmakers from both major political parties have been pushing for the DEA decision as marijuana has become increasingly decriminalized and accepted, particularly by younger people. A Gallup poll last fall found 70% of adults support legalization, the highest level yet recorded by the polling firm and more than double the roughly 30% who backed it in 2000. The DEA didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

Schedule III drugs are still controlled substances and subject to rules and regulations, and people who traffic in them without permission could still face federal criminal prosecution. Some critics argue the DEA shouldn’t change course on marijuana, saying rescheduling isn’t necessary and could lead to harmful side effects....

Federal drug policy has lagged behind many states in recent years, with 38 having already legalized medical marijuana and 24 legalizing its recreational use. That’s helped fuel fast growth in the marijuana industry, with an estimated worth of nearly $30 billion. Easing federal regulations could reduce the tax burden that can be 70% or more for businesses, according to industry groups. It could also make it easier to research marijuana, since it’s very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies on Schedule I substances.

The immediate effect of rescheduling on the nation’s criminal justice system would likely be more muted, since federal prosecutions for simple possession have been fairly rare in recent years. But loosening restrictions could carry a host of unintended consequences in the drug war and beyond.

Critics point out that as a Schedule III drug, marijuana would remain regulated by the DEA. That means the roughly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the U.S. would have to register with the DEA like regular pharmacies and fulfill strict reporting requirements, something that they are loath to do and that the DEA is ill equipped to handle.

Then there’s the United States’ international treaty obligations, chief among them the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which requires the criminalization of cannabis. In 2016, during the Obama administration, the DEA cited the U.S.’ international obligations and the findings of a federal court of appeals in Washington in denying a similar request to reschedule marijuana. 

April 30, 2024 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 29, 2024

US Supreme Court grants cert to consider RICO claim brought by fired employee against medical marijuana company

One theme of my marijuana seminar is how the US Supreme Court has largely stayed out of broad legal uncertainties relating to marijuana reform for the past two decades (after very significant early rulings in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Co-op., 532 U.S. 483 (2001) and Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005)).  But today, via this order list, the Justice took up a new marijuana case -- sort of.  Here is how Jon Elwood at SCOTUSblog explains the case last week (links from the original):

 Medical Marijuana, Inc. v. Horn. Douglas J. Horn lost his job as a commercial truck driver after a drug test he took reflected the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the active chemical compound in marijuana. Horn maintained that he ingested THC unwittingly by consuming a cannabis-derived product that Medical Marijuana, Inc. marketed as THC-free.

Horn sued, alleging injury under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The district court held that Horn lacked RICO standing because he sued for economic injuries from loss of earnings that were derived from his personal injury (exposure to THC). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reversed, holding that although RICO only permits suit by a plaintiff “injured in his business or property” by racketeering activity, an economic injury resulting from personal injury sufficed.

Medical Marijuana, represented by Supreme Court veteran Lisa Blatt, petitions for review, arguing that the courts of appeals “are divided on whether economic damages arising from persual injuries … support civil RICO liability.” Medical Marijuana notes that the Supreme Court indicated – a bit offhandedly, in an opinion addressing another issue – that RICO’s private cause of action “exclud[ed], for example, personal injuries.” If granted, it should make for an interesting argument.

Cert has now been granted for an argument likely to take place in Ovtober or November this year. Not sure how much marijuana law and policy will become central to the briefing and argument, but it is interesting to see a marijuana-related case on the SCOTUS merits docket after a long dry spell.

April 29, 2024 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

"Budding cannabis law courses are growing — but not fast enough"

Though I am done teaching my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar for this semester, I am still having a grand time working with students on their final papers.  And all the work by and with my students all semester long deeply reinforces my sense that marijuana courses in law school can serve as a terrific way to cover all sorts of legal doctrines and policies and pragmatic issues that lawyers can and will confront in many settings.  With these matters in mind, I am so very pleased to see this new ABA Journal article with the headline that serves as the title fo this post.  Here are some excerpts:

Inspired by President Joe Biden’s call to review cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I controlled substance and many states’ moves to legalize weed for medical and general use, an increasing number of law schools around the country are offering cannabis law courses.

In the 2022-2023 academic year, 45 law schools—or about 22% of the 197 ABA-accredited schools—offered a combined total of 47 cannabis law courses, according to research by the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  Although that’s an increase of 24 schools compared to four years earlier in the 2018-2019 academic year, some professors think that even more are needed. “We’re still playing catch-up,” says Robert Mikos, a professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School who has taught a class on marijuana law and policy for more than 10 years....

As the weed business grows, so does the need for lawyers. There are jobs in this field, and they extend far beyond representing cannabis dispensaries, says Mikos ...  Opportunities include working for government regulatory agencies tasked with supervising the licensed cannabis industry, working as advocates and representing investors whose holdings touch the industry, such as real estate that a dispensary wants to rent....

In the classroom, professors must balance theory with myriad practical and ethical issues embedded in the ever-changing state laws and federal regulation, they say. Intersections with cannabis law include constitutional law, taxes, intellectual property, real estate, the environment and workers’ rights.

Most cannabis law classes are directed at upper-level students.  “It’s a great capstone course,” Mikos says. “If you’re a 3L, you might have encountered already constitutional law, criminal law, corporations or administrative law. Now, you get to put that into practice and put it all together in a very concrete way.”

April 16, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Student presentation examines employer drug testing policies in wake of marijuana legalization


This week brings the last class for my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, which means we are having the last set of student presentations. The sixth and final student presentation slated for this week looks at employer drug testing policies after marijuana reforms. Here is how my student describes her topic (along with some background reading):

As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, one of the biggest questions for employers is how to handle marijuana testing policies.  The ultimate goal is to maintain a drug-free workplace while also respecting the personal liberties of employees.  My paper will explore the pros and cons for maintaining strict drug testing policies and propose a solution on the best way for states to uniformly approach workplace drug testing.  My paper will analyze how legal states have already approached drug testing and provide an overview of how Amazon approaches drug testing to develop a proposal for best drug testing practices for employers.

On the one hand, maintaining strict marijuana policies is important for employers to avoid intoxication on the job that may result in accidents.  This is especially true for certain industries, such as public transit and manufacturing, where the likelihood of workplace accidents are higher.  Even in other industries, employers want to maintain a drug-free workplace in order to improve the quality of work produced by employees.  On the other hand, however, there are many downsides to strict marijuana drug testing policies.  It is more difficult to test for marijuana intoxication without also regulating off-the-clock activities.  This may result in employees feeling like their privacy is being violated when they are subject to regular drug testing because it restricts them from using marijuana in their off-work time.  In states where marijuana is legal, this can create a major conflict between employer interests and employee personal freedoms.

While the legal states have taken different approaches in regulating how employers drug test, California and Washington have adopted laws which restrict employers from firing employees who test positive for marijuana without also showing that the employee was actually intoxicated while working.  This strategy helps to maintain a balance between employer and employee interests.  Employers are able to prevent employees from using marijuana and being intoxicated at work, and employees are still able to use marijuana recreationally in their free time.  For these reasons, this is the best strategy for legal states and employers to adopt in regards to marijuana testing policies.

Background Reading:

Khorri Atkinson, Legal Weed Drives Companies to Relax Their Drug Testing Policies, Bloomberg Law (July 14, 2023).

Max Freedman, Cannabis at Work: How Employers are Reacting to the Legalization of Marijuana, Business News Daily (Oct. 24, 2023).

Work Health Solutions, The Pros and Cons of Workplace Drug Testing.

Levi Sumagaysay, California New Laws for 2024: Employees Get Protection for Using Cannabis, Cal Matters (Dec. 27, 2023).

April 9, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Student presentation exploring policing practices after marijuana reform in Ohio

Nov-27-Dec-3-Header-Images-3-2Marijuana reforms do not, of course, bring an end to issues about marijuana policing.  The fifth scheduled presentation taking place in class this week will be exploring marijuana reform's impact on policing practices and here is how my student has described his topic along with some links he provided: 

My presentation aims to explain the need for more guidance for recreational users in Ohio, particularly considering the historical policing and enforcement of cannabis prior to Issue 2.  Racial disparities persist in cannabis-related arrests, with black individuals being 3.64 times more likely than their white counterparts to face arrest for cannabis possession.  These discrepancies persist even in states where cannabis has been legalized.  With cannabis now legalized in Ohio, it is imperative for individuals to understand the parameters of the law.

To address the need for more guidance, this presentation will initially delve into the training of law enforcement officers in identifying intoxicated drivers and the criteria for compelling a driver to exit their vehicle. Subsequently, we will examine the evidence required to establish probable cause for vehicle searches pre-Issue 2. After analyzing the historical policing of cannabis, we will explore the allowances and restrictions imposed by Issue 2 on recreational users.  We will then ask ourselves what constitutes probable cause in light of Issue 2's implementation.  This will involve distinguishing between clear-cut cases and ambiguous scenarios that recreational users may encounter.  Finally, we will highlight how enhanced guidance can clarify legal boundaries for recreational users, aiding them in avoiding legal entanglements.

Background reading:

April 7, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation examines "Social Equity Programs: A Form of Reparations?"

Picture1I never think of marijuana reform, or my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, as involving a niche subject matter  because so many aspects of the topic tap into broader issues and concerns throughout modern society.  And the fourth student presentation slated for  this week is on the kind of topic that connects a marijuana policy debate to a much larger set of concerns.  Here is how my student describes her topic (along with some background reading):

In 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates published The Case for Reparations, calling out the lack of compensation to newly freed Black people following the Emancipation Proclamation. The article describes systematic barriers to racial equality throughout history, reviewing how discriminatory housing policies have contributed to cycles of generational poverty for Black Americans.  In 2021, the PEW Research Center found the typical white household had 9.2 times as much wealth as the typical Black household.  The Case for Reparations demonstrates these vast inequalities are due to long-term systematic racism and suggests various forms of compensation to repair the harm to African Americans. 

Using this framework of reparations, my presentation will analyze the role of social equity licensure programs in the cannabis industry.  If managed with efficacy, these programs can provide a piece of financial reparations for African Americans.  Many minoritized groups have been disparately impacted by marijuana criminalization, including communities of color, Indigenous people, and Queer communities, to name a few. This presentation will center the perspective of Black communities, tracing the harm from 17th-century Antebellum slavery to today’s marijuana legalization landscape.

Ohio’s Issue 2 enacted a Social Equity and Jobs Fund, which will allocate funds to diversify industry participation, invest in communities disparately impacted by marijuana laws, and provide criminal justice reform.  Are state cannabis licensures reigniting a national conversation of reparations?  Do these programs inspire the conversation of reparations in policy areas outside of marijuana?  Analyzing programs in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan, this presentation explores the shortcomings and challenges of social equity programs, and potential paths forward to create reparations for African American communities.

Recommended Reading:

Coates, Ta-Nehisi, The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic. (June 2014).

Eva McKend, Hemp Roots: The History of Hemp in Kentucky, Spectrum News 1 (Oct. 2, 2019).

Jana Hrdinova & Dexter Ridgway, Mapping Cannabis Social Equity: Understanding How Ohio Compares to Other States’ Post-Legalization Policies to Redress Past Harms, Drug Enf’t & Pol’y Ctr. (Jan. 30, 2024). 

Katherine Hendy, Amanda Mauri, & Melissa Creary, Bounded Equity: The Limits of Economic Models of Social Justice in Cannabis Legislation. Contemp Drug Probl. (Jan. 13, 2023).

Rakesh Kochhar & Mohamad Moslimani, Wealth Surged in the Pandemic, but Debt Endures for Poorer Black and Hispanic Families, PEW Rsch. Ctr. (Dec. 4, 2023).

April 7, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Race, Gender and Class Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation examines impact of taxation schemes on medical marijuana

Images (6)As we come down the homestretch in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, students continue to cover terrific issues in their research and class presentations.  This week in my class, the third scheduled presentation has been given this title: "Getting Too Into the Weeds?: An Analysis of the Impact of Different Taxation Schemes on Medical Marijuana Programs and the Potential Impacts of H.B. 86 in Ohio."    Here is how the student describes her topic (along with background readings):

Medical marijuana programs are at risk of ceasing to exist to any meaningful extent in many states that have legalized recreational marijuana.  There has been a consistent trend of declining registered medical marijuana patient numbers in those states post-legalization.  While there are potentially many causes of this decline, there is one policy decision each of these states has had to make that could have a large impact on the magnitude of this decline: taxation structure.  There are three common taxation structures selected by these states: sales tax, tax exemptions, and excise tax.  All three structures are supported by reasonable policy rationales.

At the end of 2023, Ohio joined the group of states that have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use via an initiated statute.  The Ohio Legislature, in turn, has been left with the obligation to make any changes it deems necessary to Ohio’s recreational program before it becomes fully effective.  One of the proposals that is most likely to pass is House Bill 86 (H.B. 86).  Under H.B. 86, the excise tax on recreational marijuana would increase from ten percent to fifteen percent.  This may not seem like it will impact patient registration rates in Ohio, however, the language of H.B. 86 may open the door to application of this excise tax to medical marijuana sales in Ohio if it is passed as written.

To attempt to predict what will occur to Ohio’s medical marijuana program post-legalization of recreational marijuana under the ambiguous language of H.B. 86, this paper aims to determine if there is any correlation between the type of taxation scheme a state has for medical marijuana and the likelihood of its medical marijuana program surviving.

Background Materials:

Ohio House Bill 86 (specifically Section § 5739.27(A)).

Jenn Jarecki, Bob Kinzel, & Nathaniel Wilson, "Vermont Lawmakers Consider Changing Medical Cannabis Program, Retail Potency Limits"

Carol Kokinis-Graves, "State by State Sales Tax on Cannabis"

Kevin F. Boehnke, Owen Dean, Rebecca Haffajee, & Avinash Hosanagar, "U.S. Trends in Registration for Medical Cannabis and Reasons for Use from 2016-2020: an Observational Study"

April 7, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation examines the modern realities of modern marijuana politics and policy

Download (3)The politics of marijuana reform is an ever-evolving topic, especially here in Ohio. And this topic is a focal point for one of my students this week in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar. As noted many tmes before, prior to their presentations, students are expected to provide here some background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant materials. The second of our presentations taking place in class this week has been described (along with background readings) this way:

When legislators and citizens find themselves at odds when contemplating policy, the citizens often turn to the ballot initiative. This is often the case in a number of states where legislators are hesitant to enact what might be divisive marijuana reform.  As such, the ballot initiative has found itself intertwined with the direct democracy engaged in marijuana advocacy.  But what happens when the marijuana conversation enters particularly conservative states, and the legislators aren't keen to accept the voters' will?  With marijuana being legalized in most liberal-leaning states, the topic has become more controversial in areas with particularly deep-seated ideas about how marijuana will negatively impact communities.

Whether through vocal opposition or more insidious procedural challenges, legislators have made their disdain for marijuana known.  The embers of the war on drugs still glow warmly in red states as the formalities of the ballot initiative are weaponized to inhibit supporters.  Signature, district, and single-subject requirements all lend opportunities to prevent meaningful reform where policy-based opposition fails.  In the shadows of the 2020 presidential election where democracy was shaken, many officials have deemed the will of the people to be inconsequential and something to be ignored where inconvenient. Moving forward, the need for federal legalization is stronger than ever, and advocates must navigate a process and game where the chips are undoubtedly stacked against them.

Background reading:

Law review article:  "Taking the Initiative: Marijuana Law Reform and Direct Democracy"

Ohio law on Initiated Statute procedures

Ohio Issue 2 reform press coverage: "Ohio GOP Senate President Lays Out Process To Revise Marijuana Law, Arguing Voters Didn’t Understand Some Provisions"

April 7, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Student presention examined "The Green Rush: A Dank Guide to Navigating the Financial Haze of the Marijuana Industry”

Images (5)I cannot quite believe that we are already up to the last week of student presentations in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar.  Fortunately, we still have a half-dozen presentations to finish up the semester.  As I have explained before, students are expected to provide in this space some background on their presentation topic and links to some readings or relevant materials.  The first of our presentations taking place in our last class this coming week will be looking at financial issuses in the marijuana industry.  Here is how my student has described her topic along with background readings she has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):

Background & Summary:

The legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in several U.S. states has led to the rapid growth of the cannabis industry, attracting entrepreneurs and investors eager to capitalize on this "Green Rush." However, the continued federal prohibition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act has created a complex and often contradictory legal and regulatory environment for businesses operating in this sector. Marijuana businesses face significant challenges, including limited access to banking services, high tax burdens, and the risk of federal prosecution.  This paper aims to provide a comprehensive guide for marijuana business owners and entrepreneurs to navigate the financial complexities of the industry, covering topics such as federal and state regulations, banking challenges, interstate commerce issues, cybersecurity, and the future outlook for the industry.  By offering practical insights and strategies, the paper seeks to empower industry participants to make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and seize opportunities in this dynamic and rapidly evolving market.

The rapid growth and legalization of the marijuana industry in the United States have created a complex financial landscape for businesses operating in this sector.  The paper aims to provide a comprehensive guide for marijuana business owners and entrepreneurs to navigate the financial complexities of the industry, including:

1.  Federal regulations and policies, such as the Controlled Substances Act, the Cole Memorandum, FinCEN guidance, and Internal Revenue Code Section 280E, which have significant implications for marijuana businesses and financial institutions.

2.  State-level regulations and policies, including the patchwork of m laws across the country, state-specific financial regulations and guidelines, and the challenges in accessing banking services.

3.  Interstate commerce and money transfer issues arising from the conflict between state-level legalization and federal prohibition, as well as potential solutions such as cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

4.  Cybersecurity and fraud prevention best practices to protect sensitive financial data and prevent fraudulent activities in the cash-intensive marijuana industry.

5.  Future outlook and potential legislative changes, including proposed legislation like the SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act, which could significantly impact the industry's growth and development.

The paper also emphasizes the importance of staying informed, adaptable, and proactive in this rapidly evolving industry, as well as the potential for the marijuana industry to drive economic growth, create jobs, and generate tax revenue for communities and social programs.

Related Links:

For information on federal regulations and policies:

DEA, "The Controlled Substances Act"

DOJ, "The Cole Memo" (2013)

US Treasury Department, "FinCEN's Guidelines" (2014) 

US Code: "IRS Code 280E

For information on state-level regulations and policies:

National Conference of State Legislatures, "States Medical Cannabis Laws"

For information on proposed federal legislation:

"The SAFE Banking Act"

"The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act"

April 6, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2024

Student presentation examines marijuana reform's impact on drug trafficking over southern border


The echoes and impacts of marijuana reform are always notable (and unpredictable), and one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is exploring marijuana reform's impact on broader drug trafficking over southern border. The fifth scheduled presentation in my class is described this way (along with background readings):

Marijuana, historically, was a highly-trafficked drug into the United States from both the Canadian and Mexican borders.  In the wake of legalization, both for medicinal and recreational uses, the desire for imported marijuana has declined, and other drugs have become more desirable for trafficking.  Marijuana legalization has contributed to Mexico's adaptation to alternative drug trafficking routes along the U.S.-Mexico border, and new markets have grown significantly.  With California, Arizona, and New Mexico having legalized marijuana, the need for trafficked marijuana has placed a burden on the southern border in Texas. Legalization in these states not only contributed to this migratory shift and increased seizures in Texas, but also further deepened the dent in the profits of organized crime groups in Mexico.

The shift seen in marijuana trafficking has not halted the illegal transport of drugs.  As popularity in illicit substances such as fentanyl and methamphetamine grow, southern border states are experiencing heightened volumes of the trafficking of such synthetic drugs.  The trafficking of illicit substances impacts many parts in a supply chain, from finished product to money, both in financing illicit organizations, and for the cost of protecting the southern border and the American public from illicit drugs.

Background materials:

InSight Crime, With Legalization, Marijuana Trafficking Routes Evolve Along US-Mexico Border (Dec. 13, 2022).

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP: America's Front Line Against Fentanyl (March 6, 2024).

April 1, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation: "Chronic pain management: Exploring the relationship between marijuana, and opioid use"

Download (1)As I have mentioned before, I am always pleased when students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar focus for their research and class presentations on medical marijuana topics. It is certainly understandable, but still problematic, that medical-related issues get now seemingly a lot less attention that adult-use issues. But this week in my class, the fourth scheduled presentation will be on cannabis and pain management.  Here is her description of the topic (along with background readings):

While marijuana use for its’ medicinal properties is nowhere near a new piece of conversation, there are several areas of this topic that are under-researched.  In the U.S. 51.6 million adults suffer from chronic pain.  Many of these adults are prescribed opioids to lessen the pain.  Lessening the pain by no means actually eliminates the pain, and that is where marijuana comes into play.

The relationship between marijuana, and opioid use can be quite complex, especially considering the U.S.’s history, and present issues with misuse of opioids.  Understanding how these two drugs interact together is pertinent to helping people who suffer from chronic pain.  Generally, studies have found that using marijuana has lessened patient dependency with opioids when used as a pain management tool.

However, being able to use marijuana as a gap filler or pain management tool is not so easily done.  Recreational, and medicinal legalization in a state does not guarantee that a person will be able to access this type of approach.  State laws play a big role in this issue.  My paper aims to explore why people on opioids are turning to marijuana to supplement their pain management, the results of such, risks associated, which demographics are affected at disparate rates, as well as the various laws, and regulations that hinder the ability to safely use marijuana as a pain management tool.

Related Links: 

For information on relevant state laws pertaining to doctors in this space: "Conscience’ Bills Let Medical Providers Opt Out of Providing a Wide Range of Care."

For information on results of using marijuana as a pain management tool while on opioids: "Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report."

April 1, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Student presentation examines marijuana's history in sports and in the sports industry

Sports-Marijuana-1024x668Highligthing the diversity of issues covered when students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar "take over" the second half of the class through their presentations, the third presentation scheduled for the coming week will look at sports.  Specifically, this student will explore "history of marijuana in sports, both domestically and internationally, as well as the impact of marijuana legalization in the sports industry," and here is how he describes his topic along with background readings:

The sports industry has frequently found itself in and around the conversations regarding marijuana use and regulation.  Particularly in the US, many prominent athletes over the years have been vocal advocates for the legalization of cannabis both medically and recreationally.  Not only have athletes made the news for their advocacy of cannabis legalization, but on multiple occasions, athletes have received negative publicity for their use of cannabis.  My paper and presentation, will discuss the history of marijuana in sports, both domestically and internationally, as well as the impact of marijuana legalization in the sports industry. 

The most important organization when it comes to marijuana use in sports is the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA).  WADA was created in 1999 and subsequently established the world anti-doping code in 2003.  As the name of the organization and code indicate, WADA was generally focused on those drugs that have performance enhancing effects, but also banned those substances that go against the “spirit of sport.”  Since the inception of the Code in 2003, the topic of cannabis as a banned substance has come under fire on multiple occasions.  In 2021, the inclusion of cannabis on the list drew wide-spread media attention and led WADA to conduct an extensive review of the substance.  Despite this, WADA maintained their position of having cannabis banned.

While WADA is a prominent voice in the sports world, and its code has been adopted by more than 660 organizations, is not applicable across all sports and leagues.  In particular, the leagues we are most accustomed to in the US (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA) do not abide by the WADA code.  Instead these organizations apply their own rules.  As such, they have been more open to adapting with the times and changing their restrictions on marijuana use. 

Background Reading:

WADA, Who We Are 

WADA, The Prohibited List

WADA, Summary of Major Modifications and Explanatory Notes for 2023 Prohibited List

Marijuana Moment, NCAA Panel Formally Recommends Removing Marijuana From Banned Substances List For College Athletes (Sept. 22, 2023)

Axios, Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league (Oct 20, 2021).

March 31, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Student presentation examines psychedelics as the next fronteir of drug policy reform

Images (4)It's opening day for the MLB, but we are mid-season for my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar as students continue their "take over" of my class through presentations on the research topics of their choice.  As noted many tmes before, prior to their presentations, students are expected to provide here some background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant materials. The second of our presentations taking place in class next week will be looking at psychedelics and the next class of drugs subject to modern reforms.  Here is how my student has described her topic along with background readings she has provided:

As marijuana policy continues to reform and the stigma surrounding it begins to fade, the legality of other drugs has come into question, and the policies behind them have slowly begun to reform as well.  After California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, within the next four years several states followed suit.  The trend of cannabis legalization continued with Colorado becoming the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in 2014.  This trend of cannabis reform in the last 30 years or so has led researchers, policymakers and everyday citizens to dive into the research of various other drugs that have potential medicinal and recreational use.

The largest group of drugs that has drawn a focus is psychedelics. Psychedelic drugs are a broad category that could encompass anything from cannabis itself to LSD to MDMA.  This presentation will focus on the most common drugs people often think of when it comes to psychedelics – psilocybin (magic mushrooms,) and LSD. As well as two other drugs that have found their way into the spotlight of reform – MDMA (ecstasy,) and ketamine.  My presentation will start with an overview of the drugs above, their medicinal or lack of medicinal purposes, the research surrounding them, and different models of legalization, focusing on the challenges and progress ongoing in various states and cities including Oregon, Colorado and California.

Background reading:

Siegel JS, Daily JE, Perry DA, Nicol GE. Psychedelic Drug Legislative Reform and Legalization in the US, JAMA Psychiatry (Jan. 1, 2023)

Smith WR, Appelbaum PS. Two Models of Legalization of Psychedelic Substances: Reasons for Concern. JAMA (Aug. 24, 2021)

Mapping Psychedelic Drug Policy Reform in the United States (March 14, 2024)

Gael Girón S, Lang B, LeMaster S, Matthews K, McAllister S. Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel.  Comprehensive Report (2021)

March 28, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Political perspective on reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Student presentation examines marijuana legalization and local regulations

Screen-Shot-2022-05-26-at-11.22.57-AM-768x952Sadly, we are now into our final few weeks of students presentaions in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar.  Excitingly, we still have nearly a dozen more presentations coming.  As I have explained before, students are expected to provide in this space some background on their presentation topic and links to some readings or relevant materials. The first of our presentations taking place in class next week will be looking at "Legalized Marijuana and Local Regulation." Here is how my student has described his topic along with background readings he has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):

The growing trend towards full legalization of recreational marijuana throughout the United States has resulted in a variety of quirks in different states’ legislative schemes. One important quirk is laws that allow municipalities to ban or heavily regulate legal marijuana in conflict with state-wide legalization.

Local control can be broadly grouped into two categories.  First, there is existing local control that applies neutrally to marijuana vendors and other businesses within a municipality as implemented through local health and zoning codes.  Second, there are proposed or implemented laws that allow localities to ban or heavily restrict the establishment and operation of marijuana vendors within municipal limits that would otherwise be permissible under state law.  While the first method of regulation should be allowed, the second method of regulation threatens to perpetuate the issues with illegal marijuana that full legalization aims to solve.  Between existing zoning rules and state-specific local bans, this issue affects most people in states with legal marijuana.

My presentation will focus on the background behind local marijuana bans, the interaction between federalism and localism, and the problems that legalization seeks to address.  I will then review the laws in states that have either allowed for local bans or are proposing local bans and the measurable effects of those laws.  Finally, I will analyze the effects of allowing bans on a local level versus blanket legalizations and develop recommendations for policymakers.

Suggested Sources:

Article: Cannabis Legalization In State Legislatures: Public Health Opportunity And Risk, 103 Marq. L. Rev. 1313 (2020)

Article: Cannabis Capitalism, 69 Buffalo L. Rev. 215 (2021)

Resource Page:  Investopedia, Marijuana Laws by State (2024).

Article: American Edibles: How Cannabis Regulatory Policy Rehashes Prohibitionist Fears and What to Do About It, 44 Seattle U. L. Rev. 915 (2021)  

Resource Page: Curate, Local Government Impact on Cannabis Industry (2024)

March 27, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 25, 2024

Student presentation exploring Delta-8 THC products

Images (2)As noted in this prior post, there is an on-going debate in Ohio (as well as in many other jurisdictions) about so-called Delta-8 or "intoxicating hemp" products.  Helpfully, the last planned presentation for this week in my Marijuana Law seminar is going to cover issues surrounding Delta-8, and here are some resources that she provided for some background:

Background information about Delta-8:

Leas, EC. The Hemp Loophole: A Need to Clarify the Legality of Delta-8-THC and Other Hemp-Derived Tetrahydrocannabinol Compounds. Am J Public Health. 2021 Nov;111(11):1927-1931.

FDA and DEA Regulation:

FDA advises against use: 5 Things to Know about Delt-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC. Food and Drug Administration. May 5, 2022.

Coverage of warning letters sent to Delta-8 brands by FDA.

Good summary of case interpreting "hemp" to include Delta-8 products under Farm Bill 

Good summary of possible DEA Interpretation

Coverage of the push from the states for federal regulation

Report on study regarding Delat-8 use and state regulation

March 25, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)