Friday, June 23, 2023

"Collisions and cannabis: Measuring the effect of recreational marijuana legalization on traffic crashes in Washington State"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new research authored by Annie Voy and just published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.  Here is its abstract:

Objective

Washington State was among the first states in the US to legalize recreational consumption and retail sales of marijuana.  Recreational use of cannabis was legalized December 6, 2012, following the passage of Initiative 502 30 days prior.  Roughly 19 months later the first retail cannabis stores opened their doors for public sales (“commercialization”).  I measure the impact of cannabis legalization and commercialization on traffic collisions in Washington State.

Methods

With county-level vehicle crash data from the Washington State Department of Transportation collected monthly, I utilize an interrupted time-series framework with Poisson estimation to compare traffic collisions with recreational retail cannabis sales revenue from 2011 (three years pre-commercialization) through 2017 (three years post-commercialization).  First, I measure the shift in collisions brought about by Washington’s 2012 cannabis legalization.  Then, I compare retail cannabis sales — a measure of commercialization — to traffic collisions based on severity of injury (fatal, severe injury, minor injury, non-injury, and all).

Results

After controlling for confounding factors, evidence suggests that recreational cannabis legalization led to fewer fatal and serious injury collisions.  Retail cannabis sales generally correlate with more traffic collisions, particularly for less severe (minor injury) crashes.  These findings are robust to the inclusion of additional control variables pertaining to county-level cannabis usage and driving behavior while intoxicated.

Conclusions

Cannabis legalization led to fewer fatal, serious, and minor injury collisions.  Commercialization (cannabis sales) correlated with an increase in less severe crashes.  Although cannabis use generally increased in Washington State following legalization/commercialization, survey data suggest that driving behavior while under the influence of cannabis did not change significantly over the post-commercialization period.  Future research should focus on measuring the dose-dependent impact of cannabis consumption on traffic collisions.  This should include recognition of the importance of cannabis dosing, timing, and route of consumption.  Lastly, the dangers of poly-drug driving — particularly cannabis and alcohol — are well established and should be high priority for further research.

June 23, 2023 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Upcoming DEPC event on "Changes in Federal Approaches to Cannabis: Process and Impact"

3d3b637e-be1a-4a76-8c4b-663897ed744aI am pleased to spotlight another great Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) event that is part of our summer 2023 Cannabis Regulatory Deep Dive.   This event is scheduled for June 22 at 12noon and is titled "Changes in Federal Approaches to Cannabis: Process and Impact"  This is how this event is described at this website (where you can register):

In 1971, marijuana was designated as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it “has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”  After decades-long efforts by advocates and researchers, President Biden announced in October 2022 that he instructed “the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”  In January 2023, the FDA issued a statement saying that a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight required to manage risks.  Although these actions illustrate that the federal government is shifting its approach on cannabis, the mechanics of the scheduling review and the implications of such shift are not well understood.

Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and a panel of experts as they discuss the role of other federal agencies in the scheduling review process and the legal implications of marijuana’s status as a controlled substance and the potential impact of rescheduling marijuana or descheduling it entirely.  This panel will consider impacts on criminalization, research, medical access, and the medical and adult use cannabis industries currently regulated by states.

Panelists:
Cat Packer, Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation, Drug Policy Alliance

John Hudak, Director of the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy

Robert Mikos, LaRoche Family Chair in Law, Vanderbilt University Law School

Khurshid Khoja, Principal, Greenbridge Corporate Counsel

Fatima Afia, Attorney, Rudick Law Group, PLLC,

Shane Pennington, Partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP 

Moderator:
Patricia Zettler, Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

June 13, 2023 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

As federal marijuana reform remains stalled, new coalition formed to advocate for rescheduling under CSA

Images (3)As many of my students should recall, I have long stressed in many of my marijuana classes that a complicating question in the debates over possible federal reforms concerns whether advocates should prioritize rescheduling or descheduling of marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  Most reform advocates certainly have a clear preference for removing marijuana entirely from the CSA (descheduling), which would mean marijuana is treated the same legally as alcohol and tobacco.  But rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III or lower would seem to be more politically viable in the short term and would at least soften some of the legal problems created by the current conflict between state marijuana reforms and the drug's federal status.

Though the rescheduling versus descheduling debate has been long simmering, it has gotten some renewed energy since Prez Biden in October 2022 directed his Administration to review the Schedule I status of marijuana under the CSA.  In addition, with Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives and perhaps poised to take back control of the US Senate in 2024, robust descheduling marijuana reforms from Congress may not be a realistic possibility for many years to come.  Consequently, it perhaps make sense that folks still eager for descheduling would, at least in the short term, now be open to supporting rescheduling.

Against this backdrop, it is not to surprising to see this news from Marijuana Moment under the headline "New Coalition Of Major Marijuana Groups Launches Push For Scheduling Reform, Even If It Falls Short of Legalization."  I recommend this lengthy piece in full, as it effectively highlights various aspect of the rescheduling versus descheduling debate.  And here is how the story starts:

As federal agencies work to complete a marijuana scheduling review at the president’s direction, a new coalition of major cannabis companies and advocacy organizations has launched, aiming to advance the conversation in a way that embraces the potential benefits of an incremental rescheduling move even as they push for broader legalization.

The Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform (CCSR), which detailed its plans exclusively to Marijuana Moment ahead of an official launch on Tuesday, will be working with advocates, stakeholders, lawmakers and administration officials to promote education about the need to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Unlike other leading advocacy groups focused on full descheduling and legalization, however, its members are also united around the idea that moving cannabis to Schedules III, IV or V of the CSA would represent “historic progress” that shouldn’t be discounted.

But while there’s general agreement that such a move would resolve key federal tax issues for the industry and ease research restrictions, some advocates have cautioned against anything short of complete removal of marijuana from the CSA, insisting that a mere rescheduling would effectively capsize existing state markets and give way to further big business control of the industry.

June 6, 2023 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Political perspective on reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 2, 2023

"Where does the revenue from Missouri marijuana sales and license fees go?"

Revenue-go-300x300The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new Missouri Independent article that shows everyone where marijuana revenue is going in the Show Me State. Here are excerpts:

Since Missouri’s marijuana sales began in 2019, the state has collected nearly $100 million in revenue from taxes and program fees, according to state authorities. Etched in the state’s constitution is a road map for where the revenue can go.

The first stop is operational costs. By law, any expense it takes to run both medical and recreational marijuana programs — like salaries or professional services — all must be paid for through marijuana revenues.  That means the salaries for cannabis inspectors will never compete with that of school teachers, which come out of the state’s main pot of money, the general revenue fund. The agency that regulates the program, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told the Independent last week that their expenses have been $38.4 million to date....

After expenses, the revenue can go towards supporting veterans, funding drug addiction treatment programs and adding to the Missouri Public Defenders System’s budget.... As of April 30, there was $22.7 million in the state’s medical marijuana fund and $10.9 million in the recreational marijuana fund, according to the state treasurer’s records and DHSS.

Medical marijuana first went on the market in 2019. Since then, the medical marijuana program has brought in $85.2 million in total — $57.7 million has come from fees, including for new license applications and annual license fees, according to DHSS. And $27.4 million has come from sales tax revenue.

The constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in 2018, which appeared on the ballot as Amendment 2, mandated that revenues after operational expenses go towards the Missouri Veterans Commission. So far, $27 million has gone to support veterans....

The revenue road map is a bit different for the adult-use recreational marijuana program, and it’s defined in Amendment 3 that was approved by voters in November. By law, direct revenues first go towards operational costs and then to expenses incurred by the court system for expunging certain marijuana offenses from people’s criminal records. After that, revenues will be split in three ways: Public defenders, drug addiction treatment and veterans.

Since recreational marijuana sales opened in February, the revenue collected is already at $13.8 million, and almost all is from sales taxes, according to DHSS. Marijuana monthly sales in Missouri have tripled since February, but so has the workload for DHSS. For the past two years, DHSS has had 50 full-time employees to regulate the medical marijuana program. The total employees will now be just over 170 employees — 23 for medical marijuana and 148 for recreational, Cox told The Independent.

Between the medical and recreational program, lawmakers appropriated about $32 million for operational expenses. That’s a little more than double what it’s appropriated in past years. However, DHSS has yet to ever use the full appropriated amount, though there was plenty in the fund to cover it, according to budget documents. In the fiscal year 2020, lawmakers appropriated $13.5 million for DHSS’ personal services, expenses and equipment. But the department only spent $6.3 million. In fiscal year 2021, DHSS was appropriated $13.5 million and spent $9.4 million. In fiscal year 2022, DHSS was appropriated $13.8 million and spent $8.4 million....

This year lawmakers signed off on $4.5 million for state courts to pay their employees overtime or to hire temp workers to complete the massive number of expungements required by law. They approved an additional $2.5 million in a supplemental budget on May 5. After that, $1.3 million was appropriated for each public defenders, treatment programs and veterans. And out of the medical revenues, $13 million will go towards the Veterans Commission again this year, as it did last year.

June 2, 2023 in Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (1)