Friday, January 26, 2024

DEPC event: "Implementing Issue 2: Criminal Justice Reform After Marijuana Legalization"

A7f44381-b00d-4d72-96b5-890ae7490964The title of this post is provides the title of this online event being hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC)  next week.  Here is how this panel discussion, which I am honored to moderate and takes place on January 31, 2024 from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. ET, is described on this page (where you can register):

Criminal justice reform has been a component of marijuana reform in most states, and Ohio’s newly enacted Issue 2 includes a directive and resources for efforts to “study and fund judicial and criminal justice reform including bail, parole, sentencing reform, expungement and sealing of records, legal aid, and community policing related to marijuana.” In the wake of Issue 2’s passage, criminal justice reform advocates are renewing calls to address harms caused by the past criminalization of a substance that is no longer illegal. The nature and scope of past harms are not always clearly defined nor easily remedied, though efforts to eliminate direct or collateral consequences from past cannabis offenses are often a focal point for action.

Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts as they discuss how Ohio should approach criminal justice reform after marijuana legalization, what Ohio can learn from other states’ experiences, and the unique political and practical challenges Ohio may face.

Ohio Representative Juanita Brent, District 22
Adrian Rocha, Policy Manager, Last Prisoner Project 
Daniel Dew, Policy Director, The Adams Project
Louis Tobin, Executive Director, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

January 26, 2024 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2024

Rounding up some recent reporting about Ohio cannabis realities (thanks in part to Ohio Gov DeWine)

As flagged in this prior post, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last week leaned heavily into advocacy for greater regulation of Delta 8 and other so-called "intoxicating help" products.  From various reporting, it has been unclear whether Gov DeWine wants a complete ban on these products or just regulations to reduce youth access.  More broadly, it has been challenging to sort through how Gov DeWine and other Ohio leaders want to regulate in the entire cannabis field ever since Ohio voters overwhelming passed Issue 2, a full legalization ballot initiaitive, in Nov 2023. 

In part because I am expecting students in my marijuana seminar to sort through some of these Ohio issues for their mid-term assignment, I thought it might be useful to round up here some recent reporting on these topics.  (I am inclined to joke that the Buckeye State is proving to be a tough nut to crack when t comes to cannabis laws.)

From Bloomberg Tax, "Ohio’s Adult-Use Cannabis Bill Still Needs to Work Out Kinks"

From, "Ohio bill would move hemp products from gas stations and grocery stores to marijuana dispensaries"

From Dayton Daily News, "From ‘mom room’ to dispensary, here’s how pot is legally grown in Ohio"

From Ideastream Public Media, "Marijuna 101: Ohio medical dispensaries prepare for new customers, rules after Issue 2 passage"

From Marijuana Moment, "Ohio Marijuana Law Has Created A ‘Goofy Situation,’ Governor Says, With Legal Possession But No Place To Buy It"

From the Ohio Capital Journal, "Ohio House leaves marijuana users in limbo with weed policy"

From the Ohio Capital Journal, "What is delta-8 and why does Ohio Gov. DeWine want to ban it?"

From the Statehouse News Bureau, "Ohio retailer says delta-8 THC crackdown would 'tear' at business"

From WTOL11, "Interest in marijuana cultivation at home is growing, local business owner says"

January 22, 2024 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

"Governor DeWine Calls for Quick Action on Intoxicating Hemp"

The title of this post is the title of this new release coming from the Office of the Ohio Governor this evening. Here are some excerpts:

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today encouraged the Ohio General Assembly to work quickly to regulate intoxicating hemp to prevent its sale to children.

Rogue chemists are modifying hemp, which is a legal, non-intoxicating plant, to extract a compound (Delta 8 THC) that causes a high similar to marijuana. The intoxicating hemp is being marketed in stores across Ohio as candy, cereal, gummy candy, and other products that are attractive to children. Because intoxicating hemp products are not currently regulated, Ohio law does not prevent its sale to children.

"The current loophole that allows these dangerous products to be sold to children needs to be closed as soon as possible. Right now, Senator Steve Huffman is working on a bill to address this, and once it is introduced, I encourage members of the Ohio General Assembly to act quickly to pass it," said Governor DeWine. "These products are marketed to kids and are made to look like their favorite candy and treats. With no regulation and wide availability, it is all too easy for kids to get them."

According to data from the Ohio Poison Control Center, there have been at least 257 reports of Delta 8 poisoning in Ohio over the last three years. In 2023 alone, there were 102 reported poisonings, including 40 involving children under the age of six. Ninety percent of these children required emergency care or were hospitalized after ingesting the intoxicating hemp....

By regulating intoxicating hemp, Delta 8 products would be sold with restrictions similar to Ohio's new recreational marijuana laws that require products to only be sold by licensed retailers to those 21 years old or older. Regulation would also prevent flashy advertising and packaging that attracts children.

To demonstrate how easily youth can purchase intoxicating hemp, Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Andy Wilson asked two 15-year-old children to purchase Delta 8 gummy candy at a gas station in Clark County. "Their instructions were not to be tricky and not to try to act older than they were. There was no doubt in looking at them that they were clearly underage," said Director Wilson. "In under 10 minutes and within three miles of their high school, the kids walked into a BP gas station and purchased THC gummies with no questions asked." Under current law, both the purchase and sale of the item were legal.

Until intoxicating hemp products are regulated, Governor DeWine encourages retailers to remove these items from their shelves to prevent harm to children.

January 17, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 12, 2024

Federal government makes public documentation behind HHS recommendation to reschedule marijuana

DownloadAs reported here by Marijuana Moment,  the "U.S. government has released hundreds of pages of documents related to its ongoing review of marijuana’s status under federal law, officially confirming for the first time that health officials have recommended the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) place the substance in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)."  Here is more:

The 252 pages of documents explain that cannabis “has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and has a  “potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II.” 

Federal health officials said they conducted an analysis that found more than 30,000 healthcare professionals “across 43 U.S. jurisdictions are authorized to recommend the medical use of marijuana for more than six million registered patients for at least 15 medical conditions.”

These documents are now available at this link.

UPDATE:  Over at the substack On Drugs, Shane Pennington has this lengthy new entry titled "The Unredacted HHS Docs: What do they say? What do they mean? What difference do they make?".  Here is an excerpt from the start:

 I was up all night last night reviewing the unredacted copy of HHS’s 252-page analysis. A month ago, I went through a similar exercise with the heavily-redacted copies. Although HHS had revealed only scattered fragments and snippets of its analysis back then, I read the tea leaves and gave my best guesses as to what the agency’s analysis might say. My key predictions were that we would eventually learn that HHS

  1. recommended that DEA move cannabis to schedule III;

  2. established a “newly-minted standard” for currently accepted medical use based on “state-level data regarding widespread medical use of marijuana under state law” and deference to the “State laws and State licensing bodies [that] collectively regulate the practice of medicine” under our federalist system;

  3. applied that new standard to conclude that cannabis does, in fact, have a currently accepted medical use;

  4. “include[d] a broader and more current data set” in its analysis; and

  5. “focus[ed] less on the sheer amount of illegal marijuana use and more on marijuana’s abuse potential and safety profile compared to other substances of abuse” when compared to past rescheduling proceedings.

Having reviewed the unredacted documents carefully now, I’m happy to report that my predictions were pretty much spot on across the board. We’ll probably do multiple posts on the implications of HHS’s analysis. For now, though, I’m just going to describe the key standards and conclusions underlying HHS’s analysis and flag a couple of things that really jumped out at me.

January 12, 2024 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Now for some marijuana year-in-preview pieces