Thursday, September 29, 2022

DEPC releases "Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at Four Years: Evaluating Satisfaction and Perception"

2022-OMMCP-Report_for-webI am happy to highligth the release of a terrific new report, titled ""Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at Four Years: Evaluating Satisfaction and Perception," authored by Jana Hrdinova of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  This DEPC webpage provides this overview:

This report, a fourth in the annual series from the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC), traces the evolution of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) over the last four years in terms of its growth and OMMCP patients’ and prospective patients’ satisfaction levels with the functioning and design of the program. For the first time, our survey finds respondents reporting being more satisfied with OMMCP than dissatisfied, an important milestone in OMMCP’s development. Nevertheless, the survey respondents continue to report dissatisfaction with some elements of the program, with the price of marijuana product being the most pressing concern, followed by lack of legal protections for patients and the cost and difficulty of obtaining OMMCP patient card. The final section of this report includes recommendations for policy and regulatory changes that could have a positive impact on patients’ satisfaction with OMMCP.

Here are a few of many notable findings from the report:

  • 56.1% of respondents reported some level of satisfaction with OMMCP, with 15.3 % reporting being “extremely satisfied” and 40.8% being “somewhat satisfied.” Only 35.5% of respondents expressed some degree of dissatisfaction with OMMCP, a significant change from last year when 55.1% of people reported being dissatisfied.
  • If averaged over the 13 months, an Ohio patient paid $4.08 more per gram of plant product in an Ohio dispensary than a Michigan resident in a Michigan dispensary, and $3.57 less per gram than a marijuana medical patient in Pennsylvania.
  • The OMMCP recorded a 44% increase in the number of patients with active recommendation and active registration growing over the past 12 months. But the number of physicians with a certificate to recommend has declined over the same time period to 641 from 651 a year earlier. The patient to doctor ratio in Ohio now represents the lowest among states with a similarly aged program.
  • The top three policy changes that would most positively affect patients’ satisfaction with OMMCP would be the adoption of legal protections for patients, followed by state allowance for self-cultivation, and provision of home delivery under OMMCP.
  • Since January 2019, the state of Ohio collected over $132 million in revenue, with the state tax and local tax accounting for approximately $64 million, medical marijuana businesses application and licensing fees accounting for another $46 million and patient and caregiver fees making up the remaining $22 million.
  • 84% of respondents reported having trust in the safety of products sold in Ohio dispensaries. Only 7.2% reported not trusting the safety of dispensary products.

September 29, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Interesting accounting of the disinclination of congressional candidates to talk about cannabis

-1x-1John Hudak has this interesting new piece over at Brookings discussing the continued failure of marijuana reform becoming a significant campaign issues in this year's congressional races.  The piece is titled "Congressional candidates’ silence on cannabis reform," and is worth a full read.  Here is how the piece starts and concludes:

Cannabis reform has grown in popularity with voters, activists, and state legislators; cannabis is now legal for medical use in 38 states and DC and for adult-use in 19 states and DC.  Despite those advances in state level reforms and in the broader conversation nationwide, Congress has failed to pass a major piece of legislation addressing the issue, and many voters and activists wonder why.

One argument is that federal level officials — in the executive branch and in Congress — simply don’t care enough about the issue to address it.  To consider this question, I included a coding about cannabis reform in Brookings Primaries Project in 2022.  The Brookings Primaries Project examines the publicly stated views—via the websites and social media presence — of all candidates running in U.S. congressional primary races.  We coded each candidate on a four-point scale: whether they supported legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, whether they supported medical legalization only, whether their position was complex or indecipherable, and whether they failed to mention the issue at all.

The results provide three general takeaways.  First, primary candidates for Congress do not consider the issue important enough to elevate to be included on their website or on social media.  Second, on average, candidates who do engage on the issue are at least not harmed by staking out a public position.  Third, stark differences exist between Democratic primary candidates for Congress and Republican primary candidates for Congress....

It is clear that among all candidates, all Democrats, and all Republicans, taking no public position on cannabis was the most popular strategy during the 2022 congressional primaries.  However, among candidates who chose to take a clear position on cannabis, Republicans were more likely to oppose legalization than support it, and the reverse is true for Democratic primary candidates who took a position on cannabis.

In sum, cannabis as a political issue has risen in importance over the past 25 years.  As state legislatures and voters via referenda have enacted changes to cannabis laws, the issue has become more popular even in the halls of Congress.  However, cannabis reform advocates’ frequent stupefaction at the lack of progress at the federal level bumps up against a stark reality.  Most candidates for federal office do not see cannabis as an issue prominent enough to discuss, and deep partisan differences still remain among elected officials, even as support for cannabis in the general public has exploded in recent years.  And the true motivator for a member of Congress to take or change a position — whether voters hold their feet to the fire over an issue — has not yet become a reality in the vast majority of Congressional races across the United States.

September 28, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Legalization ballot initiative sidelined by state Supreme Court in Oklahoma, while initiative cleared to go forward in neighboring Missouri

Kansas-missouri-oklahoma-arkansas-map-vector-23600096As students in my marijuana seminar know (too) well, I find the modern history of marijuana reform throughout the United States to be a fascinating legal and political story.  And sometimes I view some of the regional variations in these stories to be especially remarkable, and one such recent example comes from the center of our great nation.  Specifically, I am referencing here the notably different outcomes of legal challenges to state ballot legalization initiatives in neighboring Oklahoma and Missouri.  Though these states share a (small) border, they are not sharing the same outcomes in lawsuits challenging efforts to put marijuana legalization before votes, as reported in this Marijuana Moment articles:

"Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative Will Appear On November Ballot After State Supreme Court Rejects Prohibitionists’ Challenge"

An initiative to legalize marijuana in Missouri is officially cleared for ballot placement following a month-long legal back-and-forth between the campaign and prohibitionists.  A lawsuit filed last month sought to keep the Legal Missouri 2022 reform proposal off the ballot after it was certified by the secretary of state.  But after two lower courts dismissed the challenge, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered the final word that the legal battle is over.

"Oklahoma Supreme Court Says Marijuana Legalization Won’t Be On November Ballot, But Will Be Voted On In Future Election"

Oklahoma voters will not get the chance to vote on a marijuana legalization initiative in November, with the state Supreme Court on Wednesday rejecting the campaign’s lawsuit that sought to secure ballot placement this year.  However, justices also dismissed two separate legal challenges to the ballot title, clearing the initiative’s path for a vote during the state’s next general or special election.

Legal battles over initiatives are never unusual, and a range of legal tripwires can often attend efforts to bring ballot measures directly to voters on any topic.  But I surmise that these kinds of challenges to marijuana reform measure have found growing success, perhaps unsurprisingly, as initiative move from bluer to redder states. Judges and other legal actors in bluer states can often seem more welcoming of ballot initiatives in this arena (and we have seen politicians in Maryland and New Jersey place marijuana reform initiatives on the ballot), whereas these actors in redder states sometime seem far more keen to keep voters from having a chance to directly weigh in on these issues.

September 22, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

DEPC's 2022–23 Marijuana and Drug Policy Research Grant Call for Proposals

I am very excited that Ohio State's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) is continuing its regular research grant program to fund work specifically in the marijuana and drug policy research/policy space. Here is the link to the DEPC grants page along with an overview of the call for proposals this year:  

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) invites researchers and policy experts from universities, government agencies and independent research centers in the United States to submit proposals for funded research or policy analysis focused on implementation and policy impacts of marijuana legalization and other emerging topics in drug enforcement and policy.  We are specifically interested in research addressing questions related to criminal justice administration, public health, and public safety, as well as their various intersections.

This year’s call for proposals encompasses two different tracks: traditional research projects (maximum award of $25,000) and policy analysis/model policy creation (maximum award of $10,000).  In selection for funding, we are likely to prioritize shorter-term research projects (e.g., completed before end of 2023) that can help inform the work of lawmakers, regulators and advocates eager to promote evidence-based best practices and policies in emerging and future reforms efforts.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Impacts of marijuana reform and other drug decriminalization efforts on criminal case processing and law enforcement work including resource allocation, changes to existing arrest/charging/sentencing practices, use of fines and fees for enforcement, and broader effects on crime, clearance rates and community relations.
  • Study and evaluation of present expungement and record relief efforts focusing particularly on marijuana offenses and other drug crimes and the impact of new laws and practices on affected populations.
  • Impacts and attitudes toward various drug reform efforts in specific neighborhoods/communities defined by geography, political affiliation, social-economic status, and/or other demographics.
  • Cost-benefit analyses of marijuana legalization/decriminalization policies, with a focus on economic development and budgetary impacts resulting from reforms such as tax revenues, law enforcement expenditures, treatment costs and regulatory expenses.

A fuller overview is available in this detailed document and the deadline for submissions is January 15, 2023, but proposals will be considered on a rolling basis.  Submit complete proposals to Jana Hrdinová at hrdinova.1  @  osu.edu.

September 13, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Some federal and state marijuana headlines and stories worth noticing

Some days it seems there is now way too much marijuana news and commentary.  Despite the lack of any federal legislative reforms at all, and relatively little major change at the state level, each day seems to bring dozens of headlines and stories in the cannabis space vying for my attention.  And yet, even during busy times and lots of noise, a few headlines and stories break out to garner my attention.  Today seems to be such a day via these stories and commentaries breaking through (to me, at least):

From The Hill, "Liberals push Biden on marijuana reform ahead of midterm momentum"

From The Hill, "America needs to get real about high-potency marijuana"

From the Los Angeles Times, "The reality of legal weed in California: Huge illegal grows, violence, worker exploitation and deaths"

From Marijuana Moment, "Senate Marijuana Banking Sponsor Gives Details About Forthcoming ‘SAFE Plus’ Reform Package"

From Marijuana Moment, "Illinois Adult-Use Marijuana Sales Top $3 Billion Since Market Launched, With $1 Billion Sold So Far This Year Alone"

From the Minnesota Reformer, "Minnesota’s Black marijuana users far more likely to face arrest than white ones"

From MJBiz, "Marijuana companies lay off hundreds, retrench amid economic woes"

From Politico, "Arrests in New Jersey for small-time cannabis dealing plummet post-legalization"

September 8, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Pennsylvania Gov announces mass pardon project for "select minor, non-violent marijuana criminal convictions"

Governor-Wolf-and-Lieutenant-Governor-FettermanAs reported in this CBS News piece, "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced a joint effort Thursday to pardon many people convicted with non-violent marijuana offenses. The large-scale project, called the Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project, will allow people with select convictions to submit an application online for an official pardon from the state." Here is more:  

The website will allow Pennsylvanians to submit applications between Sept. 1, 2022 and Sept. 30, 2022. The reason for the expedited timeline is the expiration of Wolf's term, which will end when the new gubernatorial candidate is sworn into office on Jan. 17, 2023.

According to a press release on the project, Wolf has granted 2,098 pardons since taking office, 326 of which were part of an "expedited review for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses." This is in contrast to the 1,805 total pardons that were granted in the 15 years prior to Gov. Wolf's time in office, the release said.

"I have repeatedly called on our Republican-led General Assembly to support the legalization of adult-use marijuana, but they've yet to meet this call for action from myself and Pennsylvanians," Wolf said in the release. "Until they do, I am committed to doing everything in my power to support Pennsylvanians who have been adversely affected by a minor marijuana offense on their record."

Those eligible must have been convicted on either "Possession of Marijuana" or "Marijuana, Small Amount Personal Use" charges for an amount under 30 grams, CBS Pittsburgh reported. The conviction has to have taken place in the state of Pennsylvania, and while there is no age limit on the conviction, only those without additional convictions on their record are eligible to apply. The release estimates that thousands of people will be eligible.

After Pennsylvanians submit their online application, the Board of Pardons will conduct a merit review, after which those granted approval will have a public hearing were the Board will vote on which applications to send for a pardon, the release said. Those selected will be sent to Wolf for pardons after Dec. 16. If the Governor grants those pardons, those selected will still need to petition the court to get the convictions expunged from their records.

"Nobody should be turned down for a job, housing, or volunteering at your child's school because of some old, nonviolent weed charge - especially given that most of us don't even think this should be illegal," Fetterman — who is currently running against Dr. Mehmet Oz for a Senate seat — said in the release.

However, some are concerned that the criteria for the pardon is too narrow. Former prosecutor and marijuana defense attorney Patrick Nightingale told CBS Pittsburgh that he's concerned the eligible convictions do not include the use of paraphernalia, which can include grinders, rolling papers, smoking devices, and even plastic baggies....

Studies have shown that marijuana charges disproportionally impact communities of color. Black people are 3.6 times more likely than White people to be arrested on cannabis-related charges, though both used marijuana in similar quantities, according to the American Medical Association.

While more than 20 states have passed laws to expunge or seal marijuana-related records, according to the AMA, that's only a fraction of the 38 US states, two territories, and Washington, DC that have legalized medical marijuana use. Nineteen have legalized recreational use as well, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This official press release discusses the program and provides this instruction and link for applicants: "Individuals can apply for an accelerated pardon through this one-time project at pa.gov/mjpardon. Once a person submits their application, they will be contacted if any necessary follow-up is needed."

September 3, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)