Other business opportunities include advanced delivery services for homebound patients. However, there are still some remaining hurdles. Local jurisdictions could limit sales and there could be some barriers to doctors who want to participate. Plus, there is uncertainty surrounding the new Federal administration. Still, it's full steam ahead for medical marijuana in Florida unless someone says otherwise.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this notable lengthy new CNN piece. Here are excerpts:
In 2016, more countries legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. Marijuana, or cannabis, is "the most widely cultivated, produced, trafficked and consumed drug worldwide," according to the World Drug Report, but its legality has long been a topic of debate worldwide.
In the US, Maine recently confirmed legalized recreational marijuana use, joining seven other states and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of US states. This mirrors a global trend. Canada approved both legalization and regulation of the drug in 2016, joining Uruguay as the only other country to do so. Ireland, Australia, Jamaica and Germany approved measures for its medicinal use this year. Decisions are still pending in South Africa. Australia granted permission for businesses to apply for licenses to manufacture or cultivate marijuana products for medicinal purposes and to conduct related research.
They join more than 20 countries worldwide trialing legislation regarding access to marijuana and exploring possible benefits. But as with the drug itself, the laws vary, as does the potency of control, and the world is waiting to learn what will work best....
Portugal is a pioneer when it comes to drug reform laws, as the nation decriminalized the possession of all drugs -- not just cannabis -- for personal use in 2001. As a result, the country holds the greatest body of evidence about the impact such a change can have on policy.
"We were a social laboratory," said João Castel-Branco Goulão, director-general of the General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies in Lisbon. But filtering out the specific impact in terms of cannabis is difficult. "Experiments are now taking place in other parts of the world," he said.
Having trialed drug reform for more than a decade, Goulão believes that when it comes to defining what's needed for cannabis, there must be a clear distinction between discussions for medicinal and recreational use to "avoid confusion." "People mix medicinal and recreational use," he said. However, he acknowledges that the basis for medicinal benefits from marijuana is strong, with a range of experts, including himself, recognizing its use to alleviate chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, and nausea and vomiting -- most of which are linked to a variety of disorders, including multiple sclerosis and cancer treatment. "I have no problems with medicinal marijuana," Goulão said. "There are conditions I believe can benefit from cannabis use."
Multiple countries have decriminalized personal possession of marijuana, including the Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Portugal, in an attempt to address societal problems associated with its use....
Evidence also shows that removing penalties for drug use hasn't led to an increase in drug use in Portugal, as many voices in the opposition would argue. Instead, it reinforces the fact that criminal drug laws do little to deter people from using them, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Despite these benefits, Goulão believes that leaping straight into full legalization, rather than decriminalization, is not a wise move. "They are jumping a step," he said, referring to countries such as Uruguay, Canada and some US states. They should instead "decriminalize and watch carefully," he said.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
As reported in this local article, "Massachusetts lawmakers quietly shuttled a bill to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk delaying the implementation of recreational marijuana by six months." Here is more:
The bill does not affect the provisions that are already in effect: Personal possession inside and outside a person's primary residence, as well as home growing. Those provisions went into effect on Dec. 15, 2016. Under the new law voters passed in November, retail pot shops were likely to open in 2018, after the set-up of a Cannabis Control Commission.
But the bill on its way to Baker's desk changes the deadlines for the commission to draft and approve regulations, vet applicants and issue retail licenses for selling and cultivation. The commission was originally due to be set up by March 2017. The Massachusetts House and Senate passed the bill on Wednesday. Marijuana legalization advocates have repeatedly called for the timelines and deadlines to stay the same, saying they are doable.
"The legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety. This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law," Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said in a statement. "Luckily, we are in a position where we can learn from the experiences of other states to implement the most responsible recreational marijuana law in the country," he added, referring to states like Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
December 28, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (1)
The title of this post is the title of this interesting new paper available via SSRN authored by James Neil Conklin, Moussa Diop and Herman Li. here is the abstract:
Using publicly available data from the city of Denver and the state of Colorado, this study examines the effects of retail conversions (conversions from medical marijuana to retail marijuana stores) on neighboring house values in Denver, Colorado for the years 2013 and 2014. The time period was chosen to reflect a time before (2013) and after (2014) retail marijuana sales became legal in Colorado. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compare houses that were in close proximity to a conversion (within 0.1 miles) to those that are farther away from a conversion.
We find that after the law went into effect, single family residences close to a retail conversion increased in value by approximately 9% relative to houses that are located slightly farther away. We perform a battery of robustness checks and falsification tests to provide additional support for this finding. To our knowledge this is the first study to examine at a micro-level the highly localized effect of retail marijuana establishments on house prices and hope that it can contribute to the debate on retail marijuana laws.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
This new posting by Tom Angell at Marijuana.com, headlined "Legal Marijuana Fears Are Unfounded, New Data Show," reports on two new sources of data from marijuana reform states. Here are excerpts (with links from the original):
Marijuana opponents have often fixated on two big fears they have about legalization: It will lead to increased use by young people and will cause carnage on highways as more stoned drivers get behind the wheel. But two new studies released this week undermine both claims.
First, the latest results from the federally-funded National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that while adult marijuana use rose in Colorado in the first two years following the implementation of legal sales, teen cannabis use actually declined.
Legalization proponents have long argued that taking marijuana sales out of the hands of drug dealers and putting them into a controlled, regulated system where licensed retailers are greatly incentivized to ensure their customers are of age would make cannabis harder for young people to get. The new data, first reported by the Washington Post, seem to bear that out.
“Medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years, the study in the American Journal of Public Health found. “Dispensaries were also associated with traffic fatality reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.” Silvia Martins, the study’s lead author, told the Post that her team “found evidence that states with the marijuana laws in place compared with those which did not, reported, on average, lower rates of drivers endorsing driving after having too many drinks.”
As legalization plays out in Colorado and other states that have already enacted it, and more data is collected showing that it not only creates jobs and generates tax revenue but doesn’t lead to the horrors that opponents have long claimed, it is likely that voters and elected officials in a growing number of other places will move end their own prohibition laws.
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Atlantic piece, which carries the subheadline "As legalization spreads, so do calls to ease sentences for those convicted of possessing pot." Here are excerpts:
Colorado, which legalized marijuana for recreational usage in the 2012 elections, doesn’t allow anyone with a felony marijuana conviction in the last decade to apply for a retail marijuana business license — this in a state where African-Americans are more than three times more likely and Latinos 1.5 times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than whites. So even though arrests are down 81 percent since 2012, there’s a whole host of black and brown people in the state who will be excluded from participation in the legalized industry for almost another decade.
Activists have, however, learned some lessons from the Colorado experience. “The devastation of communities of color by the war on drugs was always a top priority for people working on this issue,” said Shaleen Title, a marijuana activist on the board of Marijuana Majority and the founder of THC Staffing Group. “But what we started seeing in 2012, and particularly as there started to be a big business incentive for legalization, was less focus on the social justice issues.” This is, in part, because some newer proponents of legalization either didn’t focus on it or worried that introducing the issue of racial justice would impede the effort to legalize. “It’s very well documented that it’s black and brown people who have borne the brunt of prohibition,” she added, noting that only one of Colorado’s 500 marijuana dispensaries is owned by an African-American woman. “When we pass these laws, we have to address that. We can’t just start from scratch and expect for that to be fair.”
Title was part of a coalition of activists in Massachusetts that made sure that the state’s ballot initiative in 2016 allowed people with marijuana-only convictions to be licensed marijuana business holders. It also forced the issue of broader amnesty for marijuana convictions. “The war on drugs has been a racially discriminatory disaster and legalization should be an opportunity to try to correct that and make amends for past wrongs,” explained Tom Angell, the chairman of Marijuana Majority, which is devoted to reforming the country’s marijuana laws. “But there’s still a lingering, outdated, and cruel attitude that people who broke the law should be punished as much as possible, even if it prevents them from fully participating in society.”...
California’s 2016 ballot initiative to legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes set up a system providing for the reclassification and/or expungement of marijuana-related offenses. For those still serving sentences, there will also be opportunities for resentencing. It’s likely to have an impact on a significant number of Californians: The ACLU says that nearly 20,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession even after the state decriminalized possession in 2011.
In Oregon, which legalized recreational marijuana by ballot initiative in 2014, the law did not have an explicit expungement provision — but it did allow people with marijuana-related crimes to qualify for licensure to own a legal marijuana business. Then, in 2015, the legislature passed a law allowing anyone with a marijuana conviction to apply for expungement if the act for which they were convicted — like possession, growing marijuana, or growing in excess of what was deemed allowable for medical use — is no longer considered a crime.
There are fees associated with expungement — as there are in most states — and the process requires legal assistance, which is why the Minority Cannabis Business Association, in partnership with the cannabis company Marley Natural, held its first-ever expungement clinic in Portland, which helped 30 clients. Jeannette Ward, the vice chair of the MCBA, noted that, because of Oregon’s law allowing people with convictions for marijuana-related offenses to participate in the legal system, the clinic wasn’t about helping potential marijuana business owners. “We do it because the war on drugs targeted people of color,” she said, “and we want to take the profits from companies that are making money and try to rebalance the scales of the detrimental wars on drugs.”...
The impacts of a marijuana arrest, let alone a conviction, can be profound. “Arrest is just one moment,” explained Jenny Roberts, a professor and the co-director of the Criminal Justice Clinic at the American University Washington College of Law. “And then that moment is determinant of so many things down the line. One moment of racially disparate policing becomes a moment that follows people throughout their life.” She noted that criminal records can — legally or not — affect arrestees’ employment prospects, their ability to find housing, and even their ability to travel outside the country—even if they aren’t convicted of any crime. “We treat too many acts in this country as things that need to be processed through the criminal justice system,” she said. “Everyone knows that you can go around and arrest many, many people for marijuana, but we all know who actually gets arrested for it,” she added. “Policies that end up in racially disparate arrests are unfair and have much broader impacts than just the arrests.”
Sunday, December 18, 2016
As regular readers know, 2016 was a banner year for marijuana reform. Specifically, in addition to eight states in which voters enacted significant recreational or medical marijuana reforms by ballot initiatives, two important "rust-belt, swing-states," Ohio and Pennsylvania, enacted medical marijuana reforms via the traditional legislative process. Here is a round-up of some recent notable news from a number of these states:
From Alaska here, "Downtown Anchorage retail marijuana store opens up shop"
From California here, "Legalization is opening doors for new marijuana entrepreneurs. Are we about to see a pot gold rush?"
From Florida here, "Medical marijuana questions linger after Amendment 2"
From Maine here, "Recount bid ends, clearing way for legal marijuana in Maine"
From Montana here, "Hundreds of patients apply for medical marijuana after court ruling"
From Nevada here, "How will legalized recreational marijuana affect the gaming industry?"
From Ohio here, "Survey finds Ohio physicians not yet sold on medical marijuana"
From Pennsylvania here, "Pa. senator says he used medical marijuana despite ban"
Saturday, December 17, 2016
The question in the title of this post is my reaction to this recent Denver Post article headlined "Colorado researchers receive $2.35M to study marijuana use on driving, other impacts of legalization." Here are details:
In a groundbreaking effort to better understand what, exactly, happened after voters legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, the state’s Health Department on Tuesday announced $2.35 million in grants to researchers who will help answer that question.
Most of the money — $1.68 million — will go toward two studies that look at the impacts of marijuana use on driving. The first will compare driving impairment for heavy marijuana consumers versus occasional consumers. The other will study dabbing — the smoking of highly potent marijuana extracts — to determine its effects on driving and cognitive functioning.
Other studies receiving grant funding will look at how long marijuana stays in the breast milk of nursing mothers, the adverse effects of edible cannabis products, the cardiovascular risks of marijuana use in people with heart problems, the impact of marijuana use on older adults and, lastly, an “analysis of data from before and after implementation of recreational marijuana in Colorado,” by a psychology professor specializing in addiction counseling at Colorado State University.
“This research will be invaluable in Colorado and across the country,” Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a statement. “The findings will inform our public education efforts and give people additional information they need to make decisions about marijuana use.”
The Health Department previously spent $9 million as part of a historic effort to fund the study of medical marijuana by a state government. Those research projects are still ongoing. Earlier this year, the state legislature approved funding for the new grants to study recreational marijuana. The Health Department received 58 preliminary applications, which were winnowed to a pool of 16 from which the final seven recipients were selected.
I am pleased to see that Colorado continues to invest substantial amounts into medical and recreational marijuana research, and the roughly $11.5 million spent to date is nothing to scoff at. Nevertheless, this article reports that Colorado "collected more than $135 million in marijuana taxes and fees in 2015," and increased sales data in 2016 would suggest that the state is on pace to collect at least another $165 million or more this year. Consequently, the tax monies raised in Colorado from marijuana reform in Colorado being "reinvested" in needed research is only about 4%.
Though my biases as a researcher is showing through, I think reinvesting only 4% of tax revenues into needed research is woefully inadequate given all the important and unanswered questions raised by marijuana reforms in Colorado. Though picking out numbers here, I think at this still-very-early stage of state-level marijuana reforms that states ought to be seriously considering putting 10% or more of revenues raised back into public health and public policy research on the impact of state-level reforms.
December 17, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, December 16, 2016
This new local piece, headlined "Survey finds Ohio physicians not yet sold on medical marijuana," reports on the results of a notable poll taken of Buckeye state doctors concerning medical marijuana. Here are the details:
Only 3 in 10 Ohio doctors responding to a State Medical Board survey indicated they will be likely to recommend medical marijuana to patients under a new state law.
The board received responses from 3,000 of the state's 46,000 medical and osteopathic doctors during a survey in September. The results were announced at a meeting of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee on Thursday. About 40 percent of respondents say they would not be likely to recommend medical marijuana, 30 percent said they would be likely, and the remaining 30 percent were neutral or had no opinion.
Many physicians surveyed said they might change their mind if the federal Drug Enforcement Administration changed marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, if they had more peer-reviewed research on the subject, or if they training and education.
The law effective Sept. 8 allows certified physicians to recommend, not prescribe, medical pot for patients with any of 21 qualifying diseases and medical conditions. The rules for the program are just now being proposed. Patients probably won't have access to the drug until Sept. 2018.
This local article, headlined "Connecticut prepares for consequences of Massachusetts marijuana legalization," provides still more evidence for the reality that marijuana legalization in Massachusetts really means marijuana reform for much of New England. Here are excerpts from the article:
Police Chief Ricky Hayes of Putnam, Connecticut, is not too worried about Massachusetts legalizing marijuana -- yet. "I don't think we're that concerned right now," Hayes said. "Once they get into the dispensing and selling, we may have a lot of people traveling from Connecticut into Massachusetts to try to do some purchasing."
Recreational marijuana became legal in Massachusetts on Thursday, the result of a ballot vote in November. Residents can now grow a limited quantity of marijuana plants at home and can possess marijuana legally. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and transporting marijuana across state lines is a federal crime. But a state like neighboring Connecticut could still see an increase in people bringing marijuana across the border.
After Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, attorneys general in neighboring Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the law because their states were seeing an influx of marijuana coming from Colorado. The Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit. Some Connecticut law enforcement officials say the bigger impact of Massachusetts' legalization is likely to hit a year from now. Although marijuana was legal to possess as of Thursday, legal retail sales are not expected to be up and running for at least another year, since the state must develop regulations and a licensing process. So there is still no legal method for buying the drug in Massachusetts....
Some Connecticut lawmakers have been pushing for a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in that state. Although the bill did not pass in 2016, the Legislature is expected to consider it again, and it is possible Massachusetts' legalization could boost that effort....
Another question is what impact Massachusetts' legal marijuana will have on Connecticut's medical marijuana program. It is illegal under state law for a Connecticut medical marijuana patient to buy marijuana in Massachusetts or anywhere other than in a licensed dispensary in Connecticut. But that does not mean some patients, or potential patients, will not find it easier to bypass Connecticut's medical system and buy marijuana across the border.
Lora Rae Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees the medical marijuana program, said she hopes patients have been satisfied enough with the medical marijuana system not to buy their marijuana in Massachusetts. "We want patients to have an experience that is medical, supported by doctors, that helps remedy their severe debilitating condition and is compliant with state law," Anderson said.
A medical marijuana patient in Connecticut must be certified by a doctor, then discuss their needs with a dispensary pharmacist. "We have a very highly regulated and specific medical model to our program here, so people here have a very different experience going to a dispensary facility, which is regulated like a pharmacy, than you would going into a store where you purchase medical marijuana," Anderson said. She added that the types of marijuana that are sold in dispensaries are different products from what a person would buy in a retail store. "It's a medication, not a drug," Anderson said.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
This local article, headlined "Ohio medical marijuana dispensary, physician rules released," suggests that medical marijuana advocates might feel a bit warmer on a cold winter day in central Ohio due to the release of proposed details for the implementation of the state's medical marijuana law. Here are the basic details:
Up to 40 medical marijuana dispensaries would be licensed in Ohio under draft rules released Thursday morning. Would-be dispensary owners would have to pay a $5,000 application fee and an $80,000 license fee every other year. Applicants must show they have liquid assets totaling at least $250,000.
Dispensaries would have to hire a pharmacist, nurse, physician or physician's assistant to train employees, develop patient educational materials and be on-call or on the premises during operating hours. Dispensary employees would also have to, by law, report all medical marijuana purchases to the state controlled substances database, OARRS, within 5 minutes of dispensing a product.
A separate set of rules released Thursday requires doctors to take two hours of continuing education classes about medical marijuana as one of several requirements to become certified to recommend marijuana to patients. Certified physicians are barred from owning a dispensary or other medical marijuana business.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will review the rules at its meeting Thursday. Public comment will be collected on both physician and dispensary rules until Jan. 13, 2017.
Ohio's medical marijuana law allows patients with 20 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a doctor. The law prohibits smoking and growing marijuana at home. The law left most of the regulatory details, including how to license growers and register patients, to the Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy and Ohio State Medical Board to decide over the next year.
The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy drafted the dispensary rules, and the medical board developed the guidelines for physicians.
The proposed Ohio dispensary rules (which run 66 pages) are available at this link.
The proposed Ohio physician rules (which run 13 pages) are available at this link.
The title of this post is the headline of this Boston Globe article, which gets started this way:
It was 1911. The New England Watch and Ward Society (née the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice) was battling against drugs and other “special evils.” And in April of that year, the group’s leaders successfully petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature to outlaw possession of several “hypnotic drugs,” including cannabis.
One hundred five years, seven months, and 16 days later — Thursday — marijuana became legal again in Massachusetts. The Governor’s Council, a Colonial-era body that vets judges and accepts election tabulations, on Wednesday formally certified the results of a ballot question that allows marijuana for recreational use.
The initiative passed last month with 1.8 million people voting for the measure, despite the opposition of top politicians, the Catholic Church, doctors and business groups, and an array of other civic leaders. About 1.5 million people voted against it.
Perhaps the loudest voices opposed to the measure came from law enforcement. But on Wednesday, police were learning how to enforce what one top public safety official called “a complex web” of rules for licensed and unlicensed sellers, for those who sell the drug for profit and those who give it away.
Even as pot remains illegal under federal law, possession, use, and home-growing are now allowed under state law for adults 21 and over. But public consumption of the drug remains forbidden in Massachusetts, as do several related activities, such as smoking weed anywhere tobacco smoking is prohibited. It will also be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, though there is no cannabis equivalent in the law to the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit.
Selling pot, too, remains outlawed until the state treasurer sets up a regulated marketplace and licenses retail stores. The law sets a January 2018 time frame for pot shops to open, creating a legal gray zone until then — buying up to an ounce of pot from a dealer is legal, but the dealer is breaking the law.
The Massachusetts measure is part of a national trend. Voters here were joined on Nov. 8 by those in Maine, California, and Nevada. The people of Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also voted to legalize marijuana in recent years.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Canadian Task Force releases "A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada"
A task force appointed by the Canadian government to study the legalization of marijuana released its big final report, and this press release reports on the basics:
The report contains more than 80 recommendations to governments on how to better promote and protect public health and safety, particularly among young Canadians. It recommends establishing a minimum age of access and restrictions on advertising and promotion. The report recommends well-regulated production, manufacturing and distribution that can displace the illegal market, and provides appropriate safeguards, such as testing, packaging and labelling. It also recommends that Governments educate Canadians about the new system to improve the public’s understanding of cannabis, including risks such as impaired driving.
The full report is available at this link, and here is the first part of the report's Executive Summary:
On June 30, 2016, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Minister of Health announced the creation of a nine-member Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation ("the Task Force"). Our mandate was to consult and provide advice on the design of a new legislative and regulatory framework for legal access to cannabis, consistent with the Government's commitment to "legalize, regulate, and restrict access."
To fulfill our mandate, we engaged with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, experts, patients, advocates, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, employers and industry. We heard from many other Canadians as well, including many young people, who participated in an online public consultation that generated nearly 30,000 submissions from individuals and organizations. The Task Force looked internationally (e.g., Colorado, Washington State, Uruguay) to learn from jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for non-medical purposes, and we drew lessons from the way governments in Canada have regulated tobacco and alcohol, and cannabis for medical purposes.
A Discussion Paper prepared by the Government, entitled "Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana," informed the Task Force's work and helped to focus the input of many of the people from whom we heard. The Discussion Paper identified nine public policy objectives. Chief among these are keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth and keeping profits out of the hands of organized crime. The Task Force set out guiding principles as the foundation of our advice to Ministers: protection of public health and safety, compassion, fairness, collaboration, a commitment to evidence-informed policy and flexibility....
In taking a public health approach to the regulation of cannabis, the Task Force proposes measures that will maintain and improve the health of Canadians by minimizing the harms associated with cannabis use.
This approach considers the risks associated with cannabis use, including the risks of developmental harms to youth; the risks associated with patterns of consumption, including frequent use and co-use of cannabis with alcohol and tobacco; the risks to vulnerable populations; and the risks related to interactions with the illicit market. In addition to considering scientific evidence and input from stakeholders, the Task Force examined how other jurisdictions have attempted to minimize harms of use. We examined a range of protective measures, including a minimum age of use, promotion and advertising restrictions, and packaging and labelling requirements for cannabis products.
As this local article details, during "the first 10 months of 2016, Colorado marijuana shops reached a significant milestone they had barely missed in all of 2015: $1 billion in legal, regulated cannabis sales." Here is more:
When 2015’s year-end marijuana tax data was finally released in February, Cannabist calculations showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado marijuana shops that year — spurring a leading industry attorney to tell us at the time, “I think it’s ethical to round that up to a billion.”
That same lawyer, Vicente Sederberg partner Christian Sederberg, celebrated the billion-dollar news on Monday by also pointing to the Colorado cannabis industry’s increasing economic impact and skyrocketing tax revenues for the state as well as numerous cities and counties throughout Colorado.
“We think we’ll see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year,” said Sederberg, “and so the economic impact of this industry — if we’re using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Group’s recent report, which is totally reasonable — it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.”
Nearly $82.8 million of retail cannabis and more than $35 million of medical pot was peddled at Colorado shops in October 2016; The totals are down from September 2016, when marijuana sales hit an all-time high in Colorado — but October’s sales are cumulatively up year over year by more than 46 percent.
Sederberg and his colleague Andrew Livingston, the law firm’s director of economics and research, also estimate that 2016’s overall tax totals will amount to more than 2014 and 2015 tax totals combined, “and that’s a conservative estimate,” Sederberg added.
Depending on November and December’s forthcoming pot tax totals, that scenario is possible. Not accounting for licensing fees imposed on cannabis businesses, $63.4 million in marijuana taxes were collected by the state in 2014 along with another $120.6 million in 2015. Since 2016 taxes through October sit at $151.4 million, each of the year’s final two months would have to top $16.3 million apiece to best the two previous years’ totals combined. Either way, it’s going to be close.
There are three different taxes on Colorado’s recreational cannabis — the standard 2.9 percent state sales tax, a special 10 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers, which is earmarked for school construction projects. The $6 million collected in October excise tax brings the yearly total to $49.7 million — already well over the $40 million mark, which was a point of discussion in 2012’s Amendment 64 campaign. While the first $40 million will go toward school construction projects, any additional tax revenues from the excise tax will go directly to the state’s public school fund.
December 13, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new US News & World Report article. Here are excerpts:
American voters and legislatures increasingly are allowing medical and adult recreational use of marijuana, but as home-growing spreads and retail stores open, younger teens are reporting the scarcest availability in at least 24 years.
Explanations remain theoretical for the surprising trend in the face of widespread liberalization of cannabis laws. But it appears clear that fears about children finding the drug easier to acquire have not become a national reality, at least not yet.
In 2016, 8th-grade and 10th-grade respondents to the large Monitoring the Future survey gave the lowest-ever indication that marijuana was easy to get if they wanted it, a question posed to the groups every year since 1992. Only 34.6 percent of 8th-grade students said it would be easy to get marijuana, down 2.4 percentage points. Of 10th graders, 64 percent said it would be easy to get, also the lowest rate ever, though not a statistically significant annual drop.
High school seniors, asked the question every year since 1975, reported greater accessibility with 81 percent saying it would be easy to acquire, a non-significant increase from 2015, which saw that age group’s lowest-ever rate.
Actual use of the drug dropped among 8th grade students and stagnated among 12th graders. Reported annual use continued a five-year slide among 10th grade students, though the year-to-year change was not statistically significant.
“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which commissions the annual survey. “We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up,” she says.
“We’re seeing that more people in the U.S. except for teenagers are taking it," Volkow says. "The rates of increases are highest among young adults 18-24, so one would expect that would translate to the adolescents, but apparently it has not.”...
Volkow says explanations for long-term trends in use and accessibility are unproven, but that she is interested in hypotheses that include a connection to similar declines in alcohol and tobacco use, or the fact that teens spend more time around computers and less time around friends who could offer them drugs. She says it also may be possible legalization has prevented the rates from plunging.
"Every time a state considers rolling back marijuana prohibition, opponents predict it will result in more teen use. Yet the data seems to tell a very different story," says Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The best way to prevent teen marijuana use is education and regulation, not arresting responsible adult consumers and depriving sick people of medical marijuana."
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, says he believes the results show there’s no connection between legal reforms benefiting adults and young people’s marijuana use, which he says is more driven by cultural influences. “That’s excellent news. It’s reassuring,” he says of the new survey results. “Marijuana legalization opponents typically try to use the argument that legalizing marijuana for adults will hurt kids. Even though it’s not a credible argument, the Monitoring the Future data suggest there’s no substance to that claim whatsoever.”
Nadelmann says some legalization supporters are likely to argue that regulation has made pot less accessible to teens, but he sees no clear evidence. He offers as one potential explanation a generational aversion to inhaling smoke, and says he also recalls a Dutch explanation for low cannabis consumption despite open sales in coffee shops. “We succeeded in making cannabis boring," he recalls being told. “Maybe marijuana use is becoming less and less a symbol of rebellion among teenagers,” he says.
But legalization foes are unlikely to throw in the towel. With President-elect Donald Trump's pick of a dogged legalization opponent to serve as attorney general, they are optimistic about the possibility of ending recreational pot markets, which opened with the Obama administration's permission despite federal law banning pot possession in almost all cases.
"This year's results should be a wake-up call to all of us," says former presidential drug policy adviser Kevin Sabet, leader of the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "We are seeing heartening declines in the use of almost every category of drug -- legal or illegal -- except for marijuana," he says. "The policy environment of legalization, acceptance and commercialization is making marijuana the exception."
Monday, December 12, 2016
The question in the title of this post comes from this local article on the progress of the recount of the marijuana legalization initiative in Maine, which began last week and (very likely?) could extend into 2017. The unofficial result from Election Night was a victory of 4,073 votes for marijuana legalization, but an automatic recount is required by state election law because the result was by a margin of less than one percent. Officials have until the end of the week to complete the count, otherwise the counting will resume after the holiday break on January 1. From the article:
The recount of the marijuana legalization vote moves into its second week Monday with the No on 1 campaign picking up a small number of votes.
The recount of the contentious ballot issue began last Monday and focused on the largest cities in Maine, including Portland and Bangor. Sixteen percent of ballots cast statewide have been recounted by hand.
The start of the recount was delayed until 11 a.m. Monday because of snow.
The No on 1 campaign says it continues to pick up votes, but did not provide specific numbers. The Secretary of State’s Office will not release new vote totals until the recount is over.
Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot appeared to have legalized marijuana by a margin of just over 4,000 votes.
David Boyer, manager of the Yes on 1 campaign, said last week the no side picked up 26 votes in Portland, a number he characterized as statistically insignificant. The results released on Election Day showed Portland residents approving Question 1 by a vote of 25,594 to 13,008. He said the yes side has gained votes in other towns...
The recount could take a month to finish and cost up to $500,000, largely in costs for State Police to collect ballots from 503 municipalities.
Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot passed by 4,073 votes – 381,692 to 377,619 – according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office. Opponents did not have to pay for the recount because the margin was so small at less than 1 percent of votes cast.
If the election results stand, the new law will take effect as soon as the first week of January, though the exact date is unclear because the recount must be completed first. The process of reviewing as many as 700,000 ballots from roughly 500 communities could delay implementation even if the review does not uncover enough counting errors to overturn the results.
The new law makes it legal for adults to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow a limited number of plants. It also allows for retail stores and social clubs, which likely won’t open until 2018 because the state has to develop licensing and regulatory rules.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Tom Angell has this interesting report, headlined "Powerful Veterans Group Pushes Trump On Marijuana Rescheduling," on an interesting discussion of marijuana reform among conservative-leaning folks. Here are the highlights:
The nation’s largest military veterans organization is pushing President-elect Donald Trump to reschedule marijuana after he takes office early next year. Top officials from the American Legion, which passed a resolution endorsing the reclassification of cannabis under federal law earlier this year, sat down with Trump’s transition team last week to discuss key priorities for the more than 2 million military veterans the organization represents, including marijuana policy reform.
The group “initiated a call-to-action on fairly new Legion priorities – support of research related to the impacts of medical marijuana and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s reclassification of cannabis from a Schedule I drug to Schedule III,” according to a summary of the meeting on the American Legion’s website. “Reclassification of the drug would allow easier access to pure strains of the substance to cultivate quantifiable research and statistics regarding marijuana’s medical benefits.”
Louis Celli, national director of the Legion’s veterans affairs and rehabilitation division, told Marijuana.com that the Trump officials at the meeting were somewhat guarded in giving feedback on specific issues during the listening session, but that when cannabis’s potential to help heal military veterans war wounds came up, “there was an immediate change in the room.”
“All shuffling stopped, people stopped looking down at their notes, and instantly all eyes were on [Legion Executive Director] Verna Jones and everyone was transfixed and intently hanging on her every word,” Celli said. “I can’t speak for how the transition team felt, but there seemed to be a small shock that snapped the room to attention. No read on how the information was received, but I think they were a little caught off guard and didn’t expect such a progressive statement from such a traditional and conservative organization.”
There were also representatives of more than 30 other veterans service organizations at the meeting....
Moving marijuana out of Schedule I — or, removing it from the CSA altogether, like alcohol and tobacco — would have a number of effects. Reclassification to Schedule III or lower, as the American Legion is pushing for, would protect federal employees who use marijuana from a Reagan-era executive order that defines illegal drugs as Schedule I or II substances.
Additionally, only drugs under Schedules I and II are affected by the tax provision known as “280E,” which disallows state-legal businesses from deducting normal operational expenses from their federal taxes.
Because current laws and regulations prevent the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy from fairly evaluating Schedule I drugs, reclassification would allow the government to examine and communicate about marijuana in a way that prioritizes science instead of an outdated drug war mindset....
But rescheduling alone would not remove the criminal penalties that still put people abiding by state marijuana laws at risk of federal prosecution and prison sentences. Other statutes would have to be amended to accomplish that.
December 11, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new New York Observer commentary authored by Faisal Ansari. The fact that this piece comes from the Observer is one reason it is notable, as the publisher of the Observer is Jared Kushner, son-in-law of Prez Elect Donald Trump. Here is how the piece begins:
Back in the 1970s, the federal government labeled marijuana as the devil’s lettuce, giving it a Schedule 1 classification. Since then, public perception regarding the plant has shifted drastically — but the government has continued to cling to its archaic stance.
In fact, just a few months ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency once again refused to reclassify marijuana, referring to Health and Human Service reports that claimed it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
But those reports stem from the fact that research into marijuana’s medicinal properties has been hindered by politics for decades. Thanks to its strict classification, federal agencies have not been terribly eager to fund or support scientific studies that could potentially debunk many misconceptions that plague the plant.
Placing marijuana in the same category as drugs like ecstasy and heroin isn’t just a bummer for stereotypical “stoners”; it poses serious problems for millions of people who are in dire need of safe, natural, more affordable forms of medicine.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Following our recent election, the number of states that grant citizens access to medical marijuana (MMJ) has grown to 26, and a grand total of eight states have now legalized cannabis for recreational use. An all-time-high 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization — and soon enough, the government will have no choice but to reschedule it to a lower category.
Currently, those who live in non-MMJ-friendly states are forced to uproot their lives if they want to seek natural medical relief. And, even if they move to a different state, there’s no guarantee they can easily access MMJ. Insurance companies cannot cover a federally restricted substance, so doctor visits, exams, and other diagnostic services must be paid for out of pocket. Not everyone can afford that. In fact, some patients consider MMJ because they already can’t afford pharmaceutical drugs.
Reclassifying marijuana won’t just revolutionize the healthcare industry; it will also positively affect the overall financial state of the country. Though only available in a small handful of states, legalized marijuana generated $4.6 billion in sales in 2014 and $5.4 billion in 2015. The tax revenue from these sales is being leveraged in a variety of productive ways — from improving local infrastructure to providing services to those in need. For example, Colorado is allocating $3 million from marijuana taxes to feed and house the homeless.
This new USA Today piece, headlined "Chauncey Billups says marijuana can help players," reports on a number of notable persons connected to the National Basketball Association making a number of notable comments about marijuana use by NBA players. Here are the details:
Chauncey Billups, Tracy McGrady, Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle discussed the NBA's marijuana policy on NBA Countdown this week. The three former players basically said the same thing: The NBA should change its policy, especially taking into account the fact that marijuana could be a safer alternative to alcohol and addictive painkillers.
Billups, who played on the Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Clippers, Knicks and Pistons over the course of a 17-year career, also said he actually liked when certain former teammates smoked marijuana before games because it helped calm them down. He said: "When you're talking about protecting your investment, protecting these players, protecting the guys, if medicinal marijuana, if that's something that can help out with your franchise, with your organization, with your players, that's a discussion that needs to happen.
"I honestly played with players, I'm not gonna name names, but I wanted them to actually smoke. They played better like that. Big-time anxiety, a lot of things that can be affected, it brought them down a little bit, helped them out, helped them focus in a little bit on the game plan, that I needed them to do that. I would rather have them do that sometimes than drink."
Some prior related posts on sports leagues and marijuana reform:
- Golden State NBA MJ fan: Steve Kerr as (unlikely?) medical marijuana advocate
- As a few NFL players continue to talk up medical marijuana, what are the marijuana reform views of all the new NBA multi-millionaires?
- Responding to election results, NFL Players Association moving forward on studying marijuana for pain relief
- How will legalization of marijuana effect sports leagues policies regarding marijuana use?
Are Rhode Island and other New England states now sure to follow Massachusetts on the path the marijuana legalization?
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this local article headlined "R.I., Mass. marijuana markets intertwined: It's one reason legalization in Rhode Island is seen as inevitable." Here are excerpts:
If you want a sense of the connections between the Massachusetts and Rhode Island marijuana markets and the growth that entrepreneurs imagine, look no further than Rhode Island's first approved marijuana cultivator.
Medici Products and Solutions Inc., of Warwick, hopes to have a final license in hand by the end of the year. Its owners, John M. Rogue and Christopher E. Roy, have been selling marijuana to the state's three medical dispensaries as caregivers in a joint grow for two years.
Roy, a retired Woonsocket police officer, has been involved even longer, selling through a separate company, Grow Smart Solutions. With the state shutting down caregiver sales to dispensaries on Jan. 1 and converting to a licensed commercial-grower system, the pair needed a license to keep doing business. State startup fees for a 10,000-square-foot facility, the smallest category: $25,000.
But that's a drop in the bucket compared to their plans in Massachusetts. Rogue and Roy have three medical dispensary and cultivation applications pending in the Bay State under the name Hope Heal Health Inc. They've already received provisional approval for a flagship site on West Street in Fall River. The investment they'll need to make in the building they hope to open next year: $4 million to $7 million, according to Rogue.
Massachusetts documents show the company's projected revenues for the first year at $5.3 million, with $3.1 million in expenses. They expect to sell 952 pounds of medical marijuana at $350 an ounce. "I saw this as an opportunity where we could provide to patients the medicine they need," said Rogue, 65, of Warren. "... My wife passed away from cancer. My partner's mother passed away from cancer. We're just trying to give back."
On Thursday, the pair will be at a North Attleboro selectmen's meeting, seeking town approval for a second cultivation site. They're eyeing Berkley for a third site, said Rogue, whose career before marijuana ranged from technology company management to real estate development. In all matters in Massachusetts, the pair are represented by former Fall River Mayor William Flanagan.
And with Massachusetts voting to legalize marijuana last month, Rogue said the company is interested in moving into the recreational market as well. He acknowledged there are many unknowns, but the ballot question appears to give those who have opened or applied for medical dispensaries preference when recreational sales begin, possibly by 2018.
Massachusetts, which has roughly double Rhode Island's population of marijuana patients, at 33,000, currently has nine medical dispensaries. Another 67 applications for dispensaries, cultivation and processing sites, including Hope Heal Health in Fall River, have received provisional approval....
As for Medici's future in Rhode Island, Rogue — like so many others — says legalization here is inevitable. If not this year, then the next, was his guess. At a Publick Occurrences forum co-hosted by The Journal last Monday, 84 percent of the audience members polled said it was just a matter a time before the state legalizes marijuana.
In an interview last month, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello noted that, given Massachusetts' legalization, soon Rhode Island will have "a lot of the concerns that marijuana creates" and "none of the revenues to help us address that." Asked if Rogue will be up on Smith Hill pushing for movement this year, he said he'll leave that to the membership. "It's going to happen," he said.
December 11, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Saturday, December 10, 2016
In the run-up to the November 2016 election, I suggested that Florida's vote over a significant medical marijuana ballot initiative could be as important as any of the recreational marijuana reform votes taking place in other states. This new Forbes article, headlined "Florida Medical Marijuana Sales Could Rival Colorado By 2020," reinforces my view. Here are excerpts (with links from the original):
Colorado and California may be ground zero for medical marijuana, but Florida could quickly catch up. A new report from New Frontier Data with market data provided by Arcview Market Research projects that Florida's market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 140%. That would make it half the size of California's projected $2.6 billion market and top the projected $1.5 billion medical marijuana market for Colorado.
Florida voters legalized medical marijuana during this past election with more than 70% of the vote. Florida has the fifth-highest median age and is one of the most popular places to retire in the country. It is considered to be well-positioned to serve the aging population with medical cannabis products. The New Frontier report believes that Florida could end up becoming 7.5% of the total legal U.S. cannabis market and 14% of the medical marijuana market by 2020.
“Florida has the potential to be one of the largest medical markets in the country. The state is home to the nation's largest percentage of people 65 and older, a demographic for whom chronic pain and catastrophic illnesses are commonplace and expensive to treat. Amendment 2 gives this large patient pool access to legal cannabis as an alternative therapy to their diverse medical needs,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha DeCarcer.
Troy Dayton of The Arcview Group said, “The opportunity for good jobs, tax money and wealth creation created by Amendment 2 passing cannot be understated. And, thankfully, seriously ill patients will no longer need to go to high school parking lots or drug dealers to get their medicine.” Dayton also noted that cannabis entrepreneurs are pretty excited at their prospects in the state.
One example of this is the decision by High There!, a social media site that caters to the cannabis crowd, to move from Colorado to Florida. “When we launched 18 months ago, we felt Denver was the right city to be home to High There!, as it was a legal state. But with Florida legalizing medical marijuana, we realized the opportunity was really in our home state, and High There! could be a model of the economic impact a legal marijuana market can bring to a region,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Darren Roberts.High There! is bringing jobs with it as it moves its headquarters back to the founders home state. The company plans to add positions in operations, and marketing in the coming months, and continues to add strategic partners as the company solidifies itself as a leading technology platform for the cannabis community. The company wants to promote accessibility of medical marijuana and has partnered with United For Care, the largest organization that worked to pass Amendment 2....
December 10, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)