Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Student presentation on "Employers accommodating medical marijuana users"

One final student presentation in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar focused on employment law.  Here is the student's description of her topic and some background readings she provided:

My presentation will explore how the legislative requirement that employers accommodate versus not accommodate medical marijuana use impacts the facial validity of medical marijuana statutes.  In doing so, I will analyze how state disability statutes interact with the federal Controlled Substances Act and the doctrine of preemption.  Ultimately, using language that specifically does not require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use best protects the interests of those who require such use by avoiding challenges to the statute’s validity. 

For some background reading on anti-discrimination provisions, preemption, and employment, take a look at the links below: 

April 23, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Employment and labor law issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Student presentation on "Marijuana Reform and Gun Ownership"

This will be another exciting week as students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are finishing up their presentations on research topics of their choice. The fourth presentation slated for this week will focus on how marijuana reforms intersect with gun ownership. Here is the student's description of his topic and some background readings he has provided:

My presentation will focus on the interaction between legal marijuana and gun ownership.  I will begin by analyzing federal firearms laws and their practical implementation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). I then look through examples of the conflicts these laws present in states which have legalized marijuana, and how federal laws currently prohibit any individual from exercising both their right to consume marijuana in legal states and their right to own a firearm under the Second Amendment. For some background reading, here are some helpful links:

Paul Barach, Why Can’t Medical Cannabis Patients Own Guns?, PotGuide (Jan. 17, 2020). 

Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (Sept. 21, 2011).

Aimee Green, Medical Marijuana Cardholders Can’t Be Denied Concealed Gun License Solely Because they Use Pot, Oregon Supreme Court Rules, OregonLive (May 19, 2011).

Mike Lowe, Mixed Legality of Marijuana on State, Federal Levels Leaves Gun Owners in Limbo, WGN9 (Jan. 9, 2020).

April 22, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation on "How Farm Bill's legalization of hemp-derived CBD products could impact federal marijuana reform"

As mentioned before, the semester is winding down and students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, soldiering on via Zoom, are making presentations on research topics of their choice. The third presentation slated for this week will focus on the the Farm Bill and federal reforms. Here is part of the student's description of the issue and some background readings she has flagged:

My presentation and my paper focus on how the legalization of hemp-derived CBD products, through the Farm Bill, could have an impact on the federal legalization of marijuana.  A few sources I used to help with this research are:

Jeff Smith, What marijuana companies can learn from federal legalization of hemp, Marijuana Business Daily (Feb. 27, 2020).

Jeremy Burke & Skye Gould, States where marijuana is legal, Business Insider (Jan. 1, 2020).

Kimberly Holland, CBD v. THC: What's the Difference?, Healthline (May 20, 2019).

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Bill

John Hudak, The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer, Brookings Institute (Dec. 14, 2018).

April 22, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation on "Producing a Better Marijuana Tax Scheme"

Students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are continuing to complete their presentations on research topics of their choice, and the second presentation slated for this week will focus on marijuana tax issues. Here is the student's description of his topic and some some "light" reading selected to help set the stage for his presentation.

In my paper, I set out to find a tax scheme that gives greater weight to the public health concerns of legalization while balancing the desire for revenue and fairness.  In doing so, I analyze the three primary tax bases that may be chosen by a legislature: (1) Price, (2) Weight, and (3) Potency, pausing a moment to describe just how complex the concept of marijuana "potency" really is.  In doing so, I lay out the benefits and disadvantages of each tax base and use Illinois' tax scheme to illustrate these pros and cons.  I also consider whether medical marijuana should be taxed on a separate scheme, exempted from tax, or treated the same as product intended for adult use.  Finally, I make a case for a hybrid tax base: tax flower and bud by weight, and edibles and concentrates by potency (as measured by THC). 

In making my case, I recognize that there is no perfect marijuana tax scheme.  The science is too young, marijuana is too complex a substance (both scientifically and by dint of being both "fun" and medicine), and these factors serve to amplify the push-pull between social goals, revenue, simplicity, and fairness inherent in any tax.  I have thus included in my proposal a five-year sunset provision that will force legislators to return to the table and incorporate new science (along with the previous five years of data what worked and did not work in the original law) and hopefully produce a better tax scheme.

BOTEC Analysis LLC, Cannabis Potency Tax Feasibility Study (Oct 2019)

NPR, Highly Potent Weed Has Swept The Market, Raising Concerns About Health Risks (May 2019)

BOTEC Analysis Corp., Testing for Psychoactive Agents (Aug 2013)

Tax Foundation, How High Are Recreational Marijuana Taxes in Your State? (Apr 2019)

Pat Oglesby, Laws to Tax Marijuana (How To Tax It) (June 2012)

April 22, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Student presentation on "Key arguments against legalization of recreational marijuana"

Students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are finishing up their presentations on research topics of their choice. The first presentation slated for this week will focus on certain arguments made against recreational marijuana reform. Here is the student's description of his topic and some background readings he has provided:

For my project, I examined some of the arguments that opponents of the legalization of recreational marijuana often stress.  My research gave particular attention to the external "costs" of the legalization of recreational marijuana.  The three arguments that I will be focusing on for class discussion are (1) the cost of car accidents both fatal and non-fatal, (2) the cost of employee productivity, and (3) the cost of high school dropout rate.  I will examine these arguments, discuss some of their strengths and weaknesses, and finally talk about how they can be used in inform better policy in the marijuana space.

Here are some useful articles that I used when researching:

"Does Marijuana Increase the Risk of Vehicle Crashes?"

"Prevalence of Marijuana Involvement in Fatal Crashes: Washington, 2010-2014"

"Impact of smoking status on workplace absenteeism and productivity"

"The Causes and Costs of Absenteeism"

"Marijuana use and high school dropout: the influence of unobservables"

"Cause and Effect: The High Cost of High School Dropouts"

April 21, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Student presentation on "Transportation of Hemp and Marijuana"

With the semester winding down, numerous students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are scheduled for presentations on research topics of their choice this week.   The fourth presentation slated for this week will focus on the transportation of cannabis.  Here is part of the student's description of the issue and some background readings he has flagged:

For all the discussion that has been had about the legalization of marijuana, we have not sufficiently discussed how these products should be moved around. The goal of my presentation is to explore this issue by looking at cases that have unfolded and the policies of institutional players. For some background, please see:

Hemp Suppliers at Odds With Hazy Regulations” 

The Great American Cannabis Experiment” 

Inability To Ship Across State Lines Hurts Cannabis Businesses, Especially Small Operators” 

Travelers caught with weed in Chicago airports won’t be busted, police say” 

April 16, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Student presentation on "Marijuana Stocks"

As students "take over" my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar through presentations on research topics of their choice, I continue to enjoy hearing about (and posting here about) their selected topics. The third presentation slated for this week will focus on marijuana stocks. Here is part of the student's description of the issue and some background readings he has flagged:

While the market for investors is nearly impossible to predict, as the Covid-19 pandemic is currently demonstrating, certain industries seem to be “recession proof” and are viewed as “safer” investments. One such industry is the “sin” industry.  Stocks that fall under this category include tobacco, alcohol, weapons, gambling, sex, and most importantly, marijuana.  While many of these industries have been publicly traded on major US stock exchanges for decades, the first marijuana stock was not traded until February 27, 2018.  Thus, the industry is still in its infancy with many questions left unanswered.  I will focus on three areas of law impacting marijuana stocks: 1) the Controlled Substance Act, 2) taxes, and 3) fraud. Further, the history of marijuana stocks in the US, the potential outlook for marijuana stocks in the future, and my opinion on which marijuana stock will be the most successful will be discussed.

Fabian Gorsler, A Marijuana Company is Listed on the U.S. Stock Exchange for the First Time, Highsnobiety (Feb. 27, 2018).

Casey W. Baker, Marijuana’s Continuing Illegality and Investors’ Securities Fraud Problem: The Doctrines of Unclean Hands and IN PARI Delicto, 12 J. Bus. Entrepreneurship & L. 93 (2019).

Erin Fuchs, The Legal Risk of Investing in Weed is ‘Remote’ and ‘Theoretical’, Yahoo Finance (Nov. 3, 2018).

April 15, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student presentation on "Employment rights in a world of marijuana reform"

Continuing to provide in this space background on from students who are "taking over" Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar through presentations on research topics of their choice, the second presentation this week will focus on employment law issues.  Here is how the student working on this topic describes her plans along with background readings she has provided:

While marijuana is legal in some form in thirty-three states, it does not mean that any citizen of those states is immune to negative repercussions for their legal consumption.  Even where medical marijuana is legal, not every state guarantees legal protections.  My presentation will center on the current state of consumer rights, specifically in the realm of employment.   Just as states vary on legalization, few states agree on how marijuana consumption should be treated in an employment context.  Many states are hesitant to require an employer to change its hiring or drug-enforcement policies, despite the change in marijuana law.  Other states provide employment protections by forbidding an employer from retaliating against an employee for any legal activity performed outside work so long as it does not affect the employee’s ability to perform, without regard to marijuana specifically.  I will explore the current trends in employee protections as marijuana law gradually becomes more robust and organized.

Marijuana Accommodations In The Workplace: Your Employees Are Smoking Pot—Now What?

Legal marijuana use still costs people jobs. A new California bill takes on the issue

The Sham Of Drug Testing For Benefits: Walker, Scott And Political Pandering (old, but still very good)

Economy Needs Workers, but Drug Tests Take a Toll

Impact of marijuana legalization important lesson for employers

April 15, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Student presentation on "The history of marijuana in Canada"

Students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar continue "taking over" through presentations on research topics of their choice, and I will continue providing in this space background on their topics and links to relevant materials they provide. The first presentation this week will focus on the country to the north, and here is how the students working on this big topic describes their plans along with background readings they have provided:

The presentation will focus on medical marijuana in Canada. Like with the United States, the national attitude towards medical marijuana in Canada has evolved over the years.  It was only four short years after California effectively legalized medical marijuana in 1996, that a Canadian court ruled Canadians had a right to use medical marijuana.  It took almost two decades after that court ruling for marijuana to be fully legalized in Canada. Because marijuana is legal in Canada, there is much that can be learned from research conducted in the country.  Research on illegal drugs is often met with push back from the government.  Full legalization has opened the door for all aspects of research into the effectiveness of marijuana for treating all kinds of illnesses.  This research is necessary to facilitate a better understanding of marijuana and it benefits world-wide.

Sources:

"Canada Goes From Weed Prohibition To Legalization In 95 Years"

"A timeline of some significant events in the history of marijuana in Canada"

"Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC: Laws, Fees, and Possession Limits"

Government of Canada, "For people registered or designated to produce cannabis for medical purposes"

Government of Canada, "Information for Health Care Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the cannabinoids"

"Ontario cannabis stores to close after removal from ‘essential’ list"

"In COVID-19 fight, medical cannabis retailer eyes use of cannabinoids in clinical trial"

April 14, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, International Marijuana Laws and Policies, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Student presentation on "Regulatory Frameworks States Have Developed for Edibles"

As students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar continue "taking over" my class by making presentations on research topics of their choice, I will continue providing in this space background on their topics and links to relevant materials they provide.  The last of three presentations this week will focus on the (always hot) topic of edibles, and here is how my student has described his topic along with background readings he has provided:
 
For my paper, I'll be looking at the regulatory frameworks states have developed for edibles.  After some background on edibles and their significance to the marijuana industry, I'll discuss the varying levels regulations that states have employed.  Then I discuss the three major types of regulations for edibles: (1) testing; (2) packaging and labeling; and (3) THC content.  Finally, I conclude by assessing the effectiveness of each type and making my own recommendations for moving forward.
 
For background, please see the resources below:

Alice G. Walton, Is Eating Marijuana Really Riskier than Smoking It?, FORBES (June 4, 2014).

Jeff Rossen & Jovanna Billington, Rossen Reports Update: Edible Marijuana That Looks Like Candy Is Sending Kids to the ER, TODAY (Sept. 16, 2017).

Robert J. MacCoun & Michelle M. Mello, Half-Baked--The Retail Promotion of Marijuana Edibles, 372 NEW ENG. J. MED. 989 (2015).

Mike Montgomery, Edibles Are the Next Big Thing for Pot Entrepreneurs, FORBES (July 19, 2017).

Ryan Vandrey et al., Cannabinoid Dose and Label Accuracy in Edible Medical Cannabis Products, 313 JAMA 2491-93 (2015).

Daniel G. Barrus et al., Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles, RTI PRESS 6 (Nov. 2016).

April 9, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Student presentation exploring "Intersectionality of Sports and Marijuana"

As I mentioned in this recent post, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are now "taking over" my class by making presentations on research topics of their choice. The COVID-19 crisis means my resilient students are doing their presenting online,  and students are still providing in this space background on their topic and links to some relevant materials before they present.  Another coming presentation will focus on sports (remember those?), and here is how my student has described his topic along with background readings he has provided:

For my paper, I will be discussing the intersectionality of Sports and Marijuana.  I will primarily focus on athletes, both past and present, being used as a vehicle in leading the charge for reforming marijuana in their respective sports, but also in America.  Athletes of past have had influences on a variety of societal issues and inequalities, and I will compare some of the past actions to how athletes of today can affect marijuana.  I will also focus on the new agreements in both the MLB and NFL regarding their stance on marijuana, and what impact that will have on the reformation of sports.  I will conclude my paper by predicting what the future of sports’ stance will have on the reformation of America.  Below are a few links I’ve read over which I will be using in my paper:

"Politics and Sports: A Long and Complicated Relationship"

"If you thought sports were ever separate from politics, think again"

"'All my best games I was medicated': Matt Barnes on his game-day use of marijuana"

"Miami Heat: Sports, Race and the Murder of Trayvon Martin"

April 8, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Sports, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Student presentation on "Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana, or 'High Driving'"

As I mentioned in this recent post, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are now "taking over" my class by making presentations on research topics of their choice. Though the COVID-19 crisis means my resilient students are doing their presenting to the class online, going online has been going pretty well so far.   

As regular readers know, students provide in this space a little background on their topic and links to some relevant materials before they present.  Our first presentation planned for this week will focus on marijuana-influenced driving, and here is how my student has described his topic along with background readings he has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):

Marijuana legalization proponents quite often compare marijuana use to that of alcohol, claiming that alcohol consumption is far more dangerous, especially when a vehicle is involved.  Legalization dissenters, on the other hand, often make the argument that legalization would lead to rampant use and, inevitably, increases in traffic fatalities and damages as the result of people driving while stoned.  The aim of my class presentation and paper is to explore three topics related to Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana, or, as I like to call it, "High Driving": (1) Marijuana’s effect on driving ability, (2) The different state approaches to testing and prosecuting High Driving, and (3) what research shows about the relationship between the different legal marijuana regimes, the prevalence of High Driving, and the resulting consequences.

For background on these three interrelated topics, please reference the resources below:

"It’s High Time: A Common Sense Approach To Marijuana-Impaired Driving"

"Crash Fatality Rates After Recreational Marijuana Legalization in Washington and Colorado"

"The effects of medical marijuana laws on cannabis-involved driving"

"Drug Impaired Driving/Marijuana Drug-Impaired Driving Laws" (slightly out of date)

"Marijuana Use and Highway Safety"

April 7, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Student presentation on the very timely topic of "The Legal and Regulatory Framework for Marijuana Delivery"

As long-time readers know and as I mentioned in this recent post, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this time of year typically "take over" my class by making in-class presentations on research topics of their choice. This year, of course, the COVID-19 crisis has precluded in-person gatherings, but my resilient students are still hard at work on their projects and will be presenting to the class online.

Before presentations, students typically provide in this space a little background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant materials. The second of our presentations planned for this week will focus on the very timely topic of marijuana delivery rules, and here is how my student has described her topic along with background readings she has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):

The topic I am interested in is the legal and regulatory framework of marijuana delivery services. In states that allow recreational use, several companies have tried, with varying degrees of success, to start marijuana delivery services, like Postmates but for marijuana products. In terms of additional reading, here are a few suggestions:

April 2, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Starting student presentations with "Better Branding on the Big Screen: How the Marijuana Industry Can Use Product Placement to Build Increase Support"

3504As long-time readers know, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar typically "take over" my class after Spring Break week through in-class  presentations on the research topics of their choice.  This year, of course, the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted our usual plans by disrupting usual schedules and precluding in-person gatherings.  But, I am pleased and proud to now be able to report that my resilient students are still hard at work on their projects and will be presenting to the class online.

As long-time readers also should know, before presentations, students are expected to provide in this space a little background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant materials.  The first of our presentations taking place this week will focus on marijuana and media, as the title of this post highlights, and here is how my student has described his topic along with the background readings he has provided for his classmates (and the rest of us):

Reefer Madness is often credited for spreading anti-marijuana sentiment across the country.  Could modern movies depicting marijuana have the opposite effect?  This paper asks whether film can influence our opinions on marijuana use and legalization.  While evidence regarding marijuana specifically is sparse, other data shows that movies can affect the viewer’s opinion on a given topic.

If movies do have a persuasive effect, how can the marijuana industry harness this effect to build public support?  Luckily, a mechanism for doing so already exists: product placement. Many different companies (including tobacco companies) use already use product placement to produce a positive view of their products among consumers, subsequently leading to higher sales.  The marijuana industry can use “generic” product placement not to increase sales of a specific product, but to build a positive image of marijuana more generally.

My paper discusses legal and industry barriers that could prevent or minimize the industry’s ability to engage in product placement.  Taking these barriers into account, the industry must place its products strategically.  However, if done correctly, product placement would be a viable persuasive tool.

Marijuana Product Placement, Branding on the Rise as Marketing Execs Reimagine Legal Ganja: An article covering the recent trend of marijuana product placement in an attempt to portray marijuana use in more positive light. The basis of my paper and presentation is that this type of product placement can be used to help push public opinion to support for marijuana use.

Changing Real-World Beliefs with Controversial Movies: An article discussing how film effectively influences viewers’ attitudes and beliefs on a given topic and an analysis of a study attempting to quantify this effect.

Here’s Smoking At You, Kid: Has Tobacco Product Placement in the Movies Really Stopped?: Written just before the turn of the century, this law review article discusses the history of tobacco product placement in movies and possible ways to prohibit the practice.

High Art: The Subversive History of Stoner Comedies: An article discussing the marijuana-user community’s interactions with film, and how stoner comedies provided leading-role opportunities for minority actors even when the rest of Hollywood wouldn’t.

A Christmas Miracle: Washington Court Overturns Marijuana Sign Rules That Banned String Lights Spelling ‘Pot’: A Reason piece discussing a recent Washington state court decision concluding that marijuana advertising is “lawful activity” for the purposes of commercial speech.  The case is relevant because commercial speech only receives First Amendment protection if it concerns lawful activity.

‘Easy Rider’ at 50: How the Rebellious Road Movie Shook Up the System: a look back at Easy Rider’s impact on the filmmaking industry.

March 31, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Teaching Drugs: Incorporating Drug Policy into Law School Curriculum"

the title of this post is the title of this great new report authored by The Ohio State University's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) now available via SSRN.  Though I am listed as a lead author on the report, this document is truly the product of the collective great work of so many DEPC folks.  the report also includes the input of dozens of legal academics who participated in a spring 2019 workshop bringing together those who teach or have an interest in teaching in law schools about various aspects of drug policy and law.  Here is an abstract for the report:

Despite the significant impact of laws and policies surrounding controlled substances, few classes in the typical law school curriculum focus on either basic legal doctrines or broader scholarship in this field.  This gap in law school curricula is especially problematic given the shifts in the landscapes of legalized cannabis and hemp, as well as the range of legal and policy responses to the recent opioid crisis. 

To better understand how law schools currently approach these issues and to identify how drug policy and law could be better incorporated into law school curricula, we conducted two surveys of all accredited law schools in the U.S. and hosted a workshop of legal scholars who work in this space.  The surveys and workshop were designed to identify law school courses currently taught and the primary obstacles to teaching this subject matter.  The results show that the vast majority of law schools do not teach courses touching on drugs or the evolving legal structures around cannabis, and this is true even for law schools located in states with legalized cannabis markets.

February 12, 2020 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Exploring the "complicated relationship between marijuana use and parenting"

The fourth and final planned presentation (both this week and for the semester) by a student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar will look closely at the intersection of marijuana use and parenting. Here's a brief summary of the student's approach to this topic, along with some relevant articles she assembled:

As states increasingly legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, one largely unexplored area is the complicated relationship between marijuana use and parenting.  As with other substances (both legal and illicit), marijuana can have a significant impact on the lives of both parents and children.  Parents who use marijuana likely have conflicting interests and may prioritize their own use over the care of their children.  This could take the form of neglect, through inadequate supervision, or through misallocation of family resources to buy marijuana and other non-essentials.  Parents who use marijuana also risk exposing their children to marijuana in any number of ways.  Second-hand smoke is an obvious risk, as is the potential for children to gain access to marijuana (particularly edibles).

Expectant and breast-feeding mothers are also of particular concern, as there is some data linking marijuana use at these critical stages in development to a whole host of lifelong issues in children.  As with most issues surrounding marijuana use, there simply is not yet enough data in this area.  For example, although some studies have linked marijuana use during pregnancy to particular developmental problems, existing studies have not been able to isolate marijuana as the cause (as opposed to other drugs, nicotine, etc.).  I plan on providing background on existing public health research, giving examples of how various states are dealing with this issue, and presenting issues that have not been adequately addressed by research or policy.

Readings:

"The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Child Maltreatment: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1995-2014"

"Marijuana and Child Abuse and Neglect: A HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENT"

"The Contentious Issue of Parents Who Smoke Pot"

"Is Smoking Marijuana Child Endangerment?"

"No Cause for Marijuana Case, but Enough for Child Neglect"

April 10, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Critically and skeptically examining the claims in support of medical marijuana

The third planned presentations from a student in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming week will, in his words, "marshal the tools of critical thinking and scientific skepticism against the mounting claims about medical marijuana."  Here is how this student explains his plans and suggested background reading:

I have noticed worrying signs in the medical cannabis industry that bear all the hallmarks of pseudoscience and “alternative medicine.” For example, how many ailments fall under the ever-broadening curative umbrella of CBD? The ability to think critically and skeptically is the most useful skill we have as humans for discerning the truth, and it is most important to engage such skills when our biases most threaten our steady course. Remember the frequent allusions this semester to those who embrace medical legalization as a stepping stone to recreational use? Such people may be more inclined to jettison their critical thinking capabilities when it comes to scrutinizing claims in whose outcome one holds an interest.

I will provide a brief primer on thinking critically and skeptically, and then describe the signs of pseudo-scientific reasoning. Then, armed with this toolkit of sorts, I will explore the various claims about the benefits of cannabis as a medicine, including the current research, its blind spots, and its shortcomings. I will then critically explore the ethics and policy behind prohibition, comparing and contrasting cannabis with prescription drugs and alcohol; we shall see how the claimed justifications for cannabis prohibition stand up to critical scrutiny.

Links to Reading Matter

It is not vital that people read anything prior to the presentation, but here are some useful links for those wishing to get ahead of the game:

  • Steven Novella et al., The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe 57–140 (2018).

Of course, I understand that people might not have access to the above-mentioned book, in which case the following website will suffice (although I commend the book highly in its entirety to anyone interested in how we get at the truth of things).

April 10, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Examining the development of cannabis churches and religious freedom

The last of four exciting presentations planned this week for my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar concerns the intersection of marijuana use and religion claims.  Here is how my student describes her project along with her selected background reading:

Since its founding, religious freedom has remained a core value of the United States.  Recently, small groups of individuals have tried to apply this core value to the use of cannabis, specifically with establishing “cannabis churches.”  These churches offer congregants a space to come together as a community and consume cannabis as a way to experience a new level of spirituality.  Cannabis churches have popped up in both states where recreational consumption is legal (in Colorado, for example) and in states where recreational consumption is illegal (Indiana). 

In Colorado, the founders of the International Church of Cannabis have been charged with public consumption.  In Indiana, the founder of the First Church of Cannabis asserts that his church is protected under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  As more cannabis churches are established in other states, the main question that church founders will need to answer is whether the use of cannabis is a sincerely held religious belief deserving of protection.

Links:

• "Cannabis Churches and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act"

• "Future of public pot smoking in Denver may be impacted as International Church of Cannabis co-founder heads to court Tuesday"

•  "About Us" page for the International Church of Cannabis

• "How The First Church of Cannabis Got Serious"

• "Smoking Cannabis Is Not Covered Under Religious Freedoms Law, Says Indiana Judge"

April 3, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Religion, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2019

"Challenges in Securing Intellectual Property (IP) Rights in the Cannabis Industry"

The title of this post is the title of a presentation to be made by one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming week. Here is part of his explanation of his topic and links to some background reading:

The cannabis industry has been growing rapidly and has become more mainstream.  In 2018, New Frontier Data forecasted that the legal U.S. cannabis market ― worth an estimated $8.3 billion in 2017 ― would grow to almost $25 billion by 2025.  While many innovators of the cannabis industry are heavily focused on the business activities to get the company off the ground by dealing with cannabis-specific challenges such as marketing, financing, and differentiations.  However, it is also critical to evaluate the significance of intellectual property (IP) and the benefits it can provide.

As with any other new ventures, enforcing an IP protection strategy early on can maximize the profits of a new invention and minimize the risk of potential infringement.  However, there are some challenges because cannabis (or at least THC) is still illegal under federal law.  My paper will focus on elucidating the IP issues and challenges in a budding cannabis industry.  Further, I will discuss some factors and complexities to secure IP rights on cannabis-related inventions.

Background readings:

* "Cannabis: IP Issues in a Budding U.S. Industry"

* "Building Cannabis IP Includes Both Your Brand and Your Technology"

* "The Complicated Relationship Between IP Law & Cannabis"

* "Protecting Your IP Is (No Surprise) Even Harder in the Cannabis Business"

* "Securing U.S. Patents in the Cannabis Industry"

April 1, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Federal scheduling and research challenges for cannabis and psychedelics

The second of four student presentation this coming week in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar will focus on  federal scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act and the research and market realities impacted by the placement of marijuana in Schedule I.  Here is how my student has summarized his topic, along with the background readings he has provided:

The placement of cannabis in Schedule I practically prevents comprehensive and meaningful research into its medical applications and potential harms.  The federal government cites cannabis' placement in Schedule I as the reason rigorous research must be conducted before it can be rescheduled, but places restrictions on its research, because of its schedule, that are nearly impossible to overcome.  Is there an alternative pathway to federal cannabis legalization, or at least rescheduling, so that more meaningful research can be conducted? 

My presentation will examine U.S. drug scheduling, looking at the criteria and examples of substances in each schedule.  I will then provide an overview of the FDA research model by which new drugs come to market, contrast it with the type of research conducted on cannabis, and discuss why meaningful, rigorous research into cannabis is so difficult.  With this background, I will discuss the findings of a former UK drug-policy adviser that suggests substantial rescheduling is necessary, and how these findings helped initiate research into other Schedule I drugs.  Finally, I will provide an overview of research into other Schedule I substances, particularly psychedelics, and how this research may accelerate the rescheduling or federal legalization of cannabis so that its impact on health may be studied more effectively.

Background Resources:

March 31, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)