Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Robust coverage of rescheduling at Marijuana Moment

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

"Local Moratoriums for Ohio Adult Use Marijuana Operators"

The title of this post is the heading for this terrific new resource page just posted along with other Policy and Data Analyses at the website of The Ohio State University's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (which I help direct).  Here is how the resource is introduced:

In November 2023, 57% of Ohio voters voted for Issue 2, a ballot initiative which legalized adult recreational marijuana use and tasked the Ohio Departments of Commerce and Development with implementing a legal recreational cannabis industry in the state.  As of December 7, 2023, individuals 21 years and older can legally consume and possess marijuana throughout Ohio, although recreational dispensaries are not expected to open until the summer or early fall of 2024.  Like most other states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, Ohio allows local jurisdictions to enact ordinances to prohibit or limit the operation of adult-use cannabis businesses within their boundaries.  This page presents information on 47 local moratoriums that have been enacted by Ohio jurisdictions as of March 31, 2024.

May 7, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Student presentation examines the modern realities of modern marijuana politics and policy

Download (3)The politics of marijuana reform is an ever-evolving topic, especially here in Ohio. And this topic is a focal point for one of my students this week in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar. As noted many tmes before, prior to their presentations, students are expected to provide here some background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant materials. The second of our presentations taking place in class this week has been described (along with background readings) this way:

When legislators and citizens find themselves at odds when contemplating policy, the citizens often turn to the ballot initiative. This is often the case in a number of states where legislators are hesitant to enact what might be divisive marijuana reform.  As such, the ballot initiative has found itself intertwined with the direct democracy engaged in marijuana advocacy.  But what happens when the marijuana conversation enters particularly conservative states, and the legislators aren't keen to accept the voters' will?  With marijuana being legalized in most liberal-leaning states, the topic has become more controversial in areas with particularly deep-seated ideas about how marijuana will negatively impact communities.

Whether through vocal opposition or more insidious procedural challenges, legislators have made their disdain for marijuana known.  The embers of the war on drugs still glow warmly in red states as the formalities of the ballot initiative are weaponized to inhibit supporters.  Signature, district, and single-subject requirements all lend opportunities to prevent meaningful reform where policy-based opposition fails.  In the shadows of the 2020 presidential election where democracy was shaken, many officials have deemed the will of the people to be inconsequential and something to be ignored where inconvenient. Moving forward, the need for federal legalization is stronger than ever, and advocates must navigate a process and game where the chips are undoubtedly stacked against them.

Background reading:

Law review article:  "Taking the Initiative: Marijuana Law Reform and Direct Democracy"

Ohio law on Initiated Statute procedures

Ohio Issue 2 reform press coverage: "Ohio GOP Senate President Lays Out Process To Revise Marijuana Law, Arguing Voters Didn’t Understand Some Provisions"

April 7, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 12, 2024

Noting the peer pressure realities around marijuana policy reforms

Ab399ca2-38bb-4973-8707-50369ea566cd_1920x1080A range of research suggests peers can play an important role in influencing substance use behaviors. But this new Marijuana Moment article, headlined "Pennsylvania Governor Says Lawmakers ‘Don’t Even Have A Choice’ But To Legalize Marijuana As Other States Move Ahead," got me to thinking about how state substance use policy reforms can be influenced by peer pressure.  Here is how the article starts:

Pennsylvania’s governor says he thinks officials in the state “don’t even have a choice anymore” on legalizing marijuana, and he feels there’s bipartisan momentum that lawmakers should leverage to get the job done.

With neighboring states such as Ohio enacting legalization in recent years, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) said last week that “this really comes down to an issue now of competitiveness,” as the state is currently “losing out on 250 million bucks a year in revenue that could go to anything from economic development, education, you name it.”

“The reality is, as long as we have safeguards in place to make sure our children aren’t getting their hands on it—it’s just like, we don’t want our kids out drinking, right?” he said. “And a lot of that is going to be a burden on parents and schools and others to make sure we educate on that. Then I think this is something we’ve got to compete on.”

“I actually think we don’t even have a choice anymore given the way in which this is moving so quickly across our region and across the country,” Shapiro told WILK News Radio, adding that he’s personally “evolved on” the issue and wants a legal cannabis market “focused on lifting up Pennsylvania businesses in the process—not these big national conglomerates—and we’re empowering people in local communities to it that I think some good can come from it.”...

“It’s obviously wildly popular across the country and certainly in polling regionally and in the states. So if someone’s going to be against it, I think they’re going to have to justify that to their constituents as well,” he said. “There does seem to be an emerging bipartisan consensus that we’ve got to compete on this issue, and we’ll see if we can get it done. We’re going to work hard.”...

In a separate interview with KDKA News Radio that the governor’s office also promoted last week, Shapiro noted that his office estimates that Pennsylvania could bring in $250 million in tax revenue annually from cannabis sales. “The reality is we are leaving all that money on the table. We are falling behind other states,” he said. “I think it’s another story of us not being as competitive as we need to be, and I think its time has come.”

“It’s time to shut down the black market. It’s time to take the strain off of cops. It’s time to be competitive. And this is a way to do that,” the governor said. “We can’t let Ohio and the other states around us keep eating our lunch on this or any other issue. As I’ve said many times, I’m competitive as hell and this is one of those areas. We’ve got to compete it.” A staffer in Shapiro’s office similarly remarked on the need to legalize marijuana after Ohio voters approved the reform at the ballot last November.

February 12, 2024 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 7, 2023

"The Social Equity Paradigm: The Quest for Justice in Cannabis Legalization"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by William Garriott and Jose Garcia-Fuerte now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Today, many states have adopted a commercial-based approach to cannabis legalization which reflects the market for alcohol to govern the production, distribution, and consumption of the cannabis plant and its derivatives.  As a result, legalization has prioritized economic benefits and structures over justice concerns that would dismantle the old infrastructure of prohibition. This continues to shape the way legalization is unfolding across the United States.

One impact of this market-based approach is the push for social equity within the cannabis industry.  Though poor people and people of color have disproportionately suffered under prohibition, it is those least likely to have been targeted — wealthy and/or white people — that have disproportionately benefited from legalization.

To change this dynamic, social equity advocated have argued for a suite of policies that we term “the social equity paradigm.”  These policies are multifaceted and take various forms, but focus on three priorities: (1) increasing access to the industry, (2) addressing criminal records, and (3) re-investing cannabis tax revenues into disproportionately impacted communities.  All three priorities reflect the shortcomings of the market-based legalization model. They also reflect the principle of equity, which in this context simply means that those disproportionately harmed by prohibition should receive disproportionate benefit under legalization.

This article surveys the social equity paradigm across the country, and discusses the many legal, political, and social challenges confronting the paradigm that may require a shift in the approach to social equity.  The article provides recommendations for how the principles of the social equity paradigm can be sustained while avoiding the challenges that seek to undermine it.

December 7, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Employment and labor law issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Rounding up some perspectives on the politics and practicalities of marijuana reform

A handful of recent articles about the politics and practicalities of marijuana reform in the US caught my eye over the holiday weekend, and a quick round-up of these pieces seemed in order:

From the Financial Times, "Cannabis redraws US’s 2024 electoral map: Republicans and Democrats face an electorate that increasingly favours looser marijuana laws"

From Real Clear Politics, "Republicans Need To Take the Win That Marijuana Legalization Presents"

From the Washington Post, "Loosening restrictions on marijuana may not be boon for reform"

And a two-fer from different opinion writers with Bloomberg:

Jonathan Bernstein, "The Biden Campaign Needs to Pivot to Marijuana"

Jessica Karl, "Biden Should Go After the Stoner Vote"

 

November 26, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 9, 2023

A number of notable new marijuana reform milestones right after Election Day 2023

From Axios, "Marijuana legal for more than half of Americans after election win"

More than half of Americans reside in states where marijuana will be legal after Ohio voters approved a measure to allow recreational marijuana use....

By the numbers: The legalized marijuana market is worth $64 billion and has nearly tripled in three years as legalization efforts have swept the nation, a 2022 Coresight Research report found.

From Gallup, "Grassroots Support for Legalizing Marijuana Hits Record 70%":

Seven in 10 Americans think marijuana use should be legal, the highest level yet after holding steady at 68% for three years.

The latest results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 2-23. Aside from those in favor, 29% of U.S. adults think marijuana should not be legal, while 1% are unsure.

Twelve percent of Americans backed legalizing marijuana when Gallup first asked about it in 1969.  Support cracked the 50% threshold in 2013, jumping 10 percentage points to 58% after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Support has since increased by another 12 points, paralleling the rise in Americans’ self-reported use of the drug. According to Gallup’s July Consumption Habits survey, the percentage saying they personally smoke marijuana has risen 10 points to 17% since 2013, and the percentage who have ever tried it has increased 12 points to 50%.

November 9, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Reviewing the state of marijuana politics in the US on Election Day 2023

22068050-election-day-celebration-star-vectorLater tonight or early tomorrow I expect I will be blogging about the results of today's initiative vote on the full legalization of marijuana in Ohio.  And, as voters head to the polls in the Buckeye State and in some other states, I am tempted to make the case that cannabis reform politics may be at an inflection point.  But maybe not, especially when possible federal reforms may be looming.  I suspect I will opine a bit on marijuana politics after seeing some actual outcomes on this intriguing off-off-year election day, but for now I will lean on recent Marijuana Moment coverage of both state and federal politics in this arena:

"Ohio Voters Will Decide On A Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative On Tuesday As Polls Show Strong Support"

"Virginia Election Forecast Predicts Democratic Wins In House And Senate, Which Could Lead To Legal Marijuana Sales"

"Colorado Should Be At The ‘Center’ Of Global Marijuana Market, Governor Says As He Unveils New Cannabis Budget Proposals"

"Pennsylvania House Committee Holds Marijuana Legalization Hearing As Lawmakers Consider State-Run Stores"

"Congressional Committee Urges DOJ To Study ‘Adequacy’ Of State Marijuana Laws And Address Federal Research Barriers"

"Congress Considers Opposing Amendments To Protect Legal Marijuana States And Block Biden From Rescheduling Cannabis"

"RFK Jr. Releases Presidential Campaign Ad Calling For Marijuana Legalization ‘To End Addiction’"

Happy Election Day to all who celebrate!

November 7, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

By 14-9 vote, Senate committee finally advances marijuana banking bill

No-SAFE-Banking-On-The-NDAAAs reported here by Marijuana Moment, the "Senate Banking Committee has approved a bipartisan marijuana banking bill with amendments, sending it to the floor."  Here are some details:

On Wednesday, members voted to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), in a 14-9 vote. This comes one week after it was filed with revisions that were meant to bolster its bipartisan buy-in....

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), the lead GOP sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, emphasized that he does not view the legislation as a step toward legalization, which he opposes. But “the current all cash model of legal cannabis businesses makes him targets for theft, for tax evasion and for organized crime,” he said. “The key to addressing this risk is by ensuring that all legal businesses have access to the banking system,” Daines said....

The road to Wednesday’s vote has been bumpy. While the House has passed earlier versions of the legislation several times, this marks the first time the Senate has taken the lead—and bipartisan negotiations have proved trying.

Leadership aimed to move the bill through committee in July, but disagreements over provisions related to broad banking regulations shot that timeline down. Then, over the August recess, lawmakers drafted a revised version, with a slightly updated title and new language that earned some praise from both sides of the aisle.

But the amended SAFER Banking Act that was finally released last week is likely not in its final form. Beside amendments adopted during Wednesday’s markup, there are additionally plans to amend it on the floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to use that opportunity to incorporate legislation on incentivizing state-level cannabis expungements, as well as protecting gun rights for marijuana consumers.

September 27, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Officially, Ohio voters will get to consider legislative ballot initiative to fully legal marijuana in November 2023

07b37569-0df5-44cd-90fb-1de3e3e0a0f1-large16x9_NewIVotedStickerwithOldFrankLaRoseAs reported in this local news piece, "It's official: Ohioans will decide this fall whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana." Here is more:

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol secured enough signatures to put its proposal before voters on the Nov. 7 ballot, Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office announced Wednesday. Advocates worked for over a year to hit this milestone as the GOP-controlled Legislature refused to go further than the current medical marijuana program.

Now, the coalition faces a new challenge: Getting Ohio voters on board and staving off opposition from the state's top leaders....

“We are grateful to the thousands of Ohioans who helped us get to this point and are excited to bring our proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol before Ohio voters this coming election day,” Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Tom Haren said in a statement Wednesday.

The proposed statute would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.

Products would be taxed 10%, with revenue going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and a social equity and jobs program. A certain number of cultivator and dispensary licenses would be reserved for participants in that program, which aims to help those who are disproportionately affected by the enforcement of current marijuana laws.

The measure is an initiated statute, which means the Legislature could modify or repeal the law if it passes in November. Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, are staunchly opposed to adult-use marijuana, but Haren said previously that he expects lawmakers to respect the will of the voters.

It remains to be seen how much time and energy opponents will invest to defeat the proposal. Some critics of recreational marijuana, such as the Center for Christian Virtue, will be focused on keeping an abortion-rights amendment out of the state constitution.

Having both issues on the ballot in November could also generate significant turnout among progressive Ohioans in an odd-year election. A recent USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll found 58% of likely voters support legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older, and the number was even higher among young voters and Democrats.

August 16, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 29, 2023

"Federalism, Limited Government, and Conservative Outcomes: The Republican Case for Marijuana Legalization"

I continue to be excited to post some the latest papers from the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center in order to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates on many important and cutting-edge topics.   The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Jesse Green, who is about to start his final year as a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract:

Marijuana legalization is sweeping the United States by storm.  Almost half of the states have legalized recreational marijuana and an overwhelming majority have legalized medical marijuana.  However, a partisan divide in both recreational and medical marijuana legalization is present.  Democrats tend to be quicker to support legalization, while Republicans tend to be slower to embrace it.  And importantly, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level as a Schedule I controlled substance.

This paper lays out the key Republican arguments in favor of marijuana legalization.  After detailing the political realities of marijuana legalization in the United States, it addresses the benefits of keeping legalization efforts within the legislative process instead of letting the issue be subject to direct democracy.  This paper then concludes by providing specific Republican-supported policies that marijuana legalization can help advance.

July 29, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 17, 2023

How might marijuana reform in Ohio fare in an off-year with abortion rights also on ballot?

Because I live and work in central Ohio, I certainly pay attention to Ohio political developments more than others.  But, assuming two new initiatives qualify for state ballot in 2023 (which we should know soon), I suspect lots of folks around the country will be paying more attention Buckeye State politics.  Specifically, two high-profile topics --- full legalization of marijuana and abortion rights --- could come before Ohio voters this November.  That possibility prompts the question in the title of this post and also the question in this new local article headlined: "How will two hot-button ballot initiatives impact Ohio’s November turnout?"

07b37569-0df5-44cd-90fb-1de3e3e0a0f1-large16x9_NewIVotedStickerwithOldFrankLaRoseThe local piece mostly discusses turn-out issues generally; I am also especially wondering how having an abortion initiative at the same time as a marijuana initiative may impact not only voter turn-out, but also the advertising budgets and advocacy efforts by backers and opponents of both initiatives.   Here is a segment of the press piece covering just some of the issues a unique off-year Ohio election might raise:

Heading into this year’s election season, Ohio voters could wind up voting on two hot button issues at the same time. Election officials are currently combing through petitions for an abortion rights amendment and a recreational marijuana statute that could both go before voters in November.

Received wisdom holds that those hot button ballot issues are good way to juice turnout. Political science literature confirms that to a certain extent, that’s true. But what happens when two show up at once?...

Ohio State University political scientist Vladimir Kogan  [has research showing] turnout in an average Ohio school district during a presidential election was about 62% of the 2010 voting age population.  In a midterm, turnout dropped by 15 points and in odd year election it fell another 8 points.  Even with abortion and marijuana initiatives boosting awareness, he explained, that’s a lot of ground to make up.

And Kogan argued the nature of the electorate in odd-year elections could present a challenge for an initiative’s backers, too.  “The important thing is not the overall turnout but who’s voting,” Kogan said, “and again we know that not only this turnout overall quite different off-cycle but particularly the age profile.  Really, it’s a much, much older electorate that votes in these lower turnout elections.”

“Probably not the target demographic for people that are trying to legalize marijuana,” he added....  In terms of how the two issues might interact with one another, [University of North Florida political scientist Mike] Binder and Kogan dismiss the idea that they might amplify or cancel one another out.  Binder allowed that there are likely voters who would favor one issue and oppose the other, but probably not many.  Instead, he described the two issues’ appeal like a Venn diagram — not a complete overlap, but a pretty significant one.

Notably, Ohio votes are already going to the polls — I voted last week — to weigh in on a special election concerning whether to raise the support threshold for constitutional amendments to require future amendments to surpass 60% for adoption. That initiative, which was put on the ballot by Ohio's General Assembly, would impact the Ohio abortion initiative (which is a proposed constitutional amendment), but note the marijuana initiative (which proposes only statutory changes).

My sense is that the marijuana reform initiative may ultimately benefit in various ways from the abortion initiative garnering much attention.  For starters, I suspect overall turnout will be higher, especially among younger and more left-leaning voters.  Also, I suspect many elected Ohio leaders will likely be more focused on speaking out against the abortion initiative rather than the marijuana initiative (same for likely campaign contributors).  There may also be the broader benefit of more public polling on this topics before the vote and also a richer understanding of political trends and coalitions around these issues after the vote.  Interesting times.

July 17, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2023

"An Equity Action Plan for Marijuana: The Biden Administration’s Opportunity to Advance Equity Through Cannabis Reform"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Cat Packer now available via SSRN. (Note: Cat is my former student and also is now serving as a Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence with the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at the The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.) Here is its abstract:

This paper examines the Biden Administration’s executive orders on equity, its position on marijuana reform before and after President Biden’s related October 2022 statement, and it's repeated statements acknowledging both cannabis criminalization’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latino communities and marijuana reform as an opportunity to advance equity.  Moreover, this paper critiques the omission of marijuana reform within the Biden Administration’s Equity Action Plans and highlights the opportunity for the Biden Administration to use its existing executive orders on equity as a framework to understand and address how marijuana laws and policies create barriers for underserved communities through the development of an equity action plan for marijuana reform.

May 18, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Political perspective on reforms, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Upcoming DEPC event on "Prosecuting Cannabis: Approaches from States without Legalization"

Prosecuting cannabisAs a follow-up to new research (to be discussed in a future post) concerning marijuana enforcement by district attorneys in states that still prohibit recreational marijuana use, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University and the Prosecutors and Politics Project at UNC School of Law is hosting on May 17, 2023, a conversation with a panel of legal experts and academics.  You can register for the online event here, and  this event page provides some backgrouns along with the scheduled panelists:

Over the last decade, a large number of states have adopted various forms of marijuana reform. To date, 21 states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and 38 have legalized medical marijuana use. While public opinion polls suggest that the vast majority of people support marijuana legalization, less is known about the opinions and policies of prosecuting attorneys in states that have not yet legalized marijuana for any purpose.

Panelists:

Amy Ullrick, Project Manager, Prosecutors and Politics Project, University of North Carolina 
Sam Kamin, Professor, Chauncey G. Wilson Memorial Research Chair, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Zachary Price, Eucalyptus Foundation Endowed Chair, University of California College of the Law, San Francisco
Lauren Ouizel, Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Moderator:

Carissa Byrne Hessick, Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina

May 2, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Political perspective on reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Student presentation exploring how Republicans might tackle marijuana reform from a conservative direction

Republicans-marijuanaI always find the poltics of marijuana reform to be interesting and even more dynamic than is often recognized. Consequently, I am excited that the second presentation slated for this week is focused on in this arena. The topic is described by my student this way (along with background readings):

It is no secret that marijuana reform efforts — both medicinally and recreationally — tend to start in blue states with red states lagging behind.  Every blue state and almost every purple state has established some sort of medical marijuana program, while around half of red states still have not addressed medical marijuana . Almost every blue state has legalized recreational marijuana, while most red states have not done so.  And importantly, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level with Republican members of Congress being the most resistant to a change in policy.

So, are Republicans bound to oppose marijuana reform efforts with no argument in favor?  Not necessarily! Several Republican priorities overlap with the priorities of those in the marijuana reform crowd.  For example, Republicans tend to oppose an increase in federal power, while marijuana reform advocates support a reduction in federal power over marijuana.  Similarly, Republicans support gun rights, while marijuana reform advocates support allowing marijuana users to exercise their Second Amendment rights.  Given these overlaps in policy, Republicans have an opportunity to tackle the marijuana issue from a conservative direction — maybe even winning over some support from the marijuana reform crowd.  And in doing so, Republicans can ensure the legislative process tempers the excesses of many marijuana reform proposals.

Background Readings:

Kyle Jaeger, "Majority Of Kentucky Residents Back Legalizing Marijuana For Any Purpose, Poll Finds As Medical Hearing Approaches," Marijuana Moment (Feb. 2020).

Ted Van Green, "Americans overwhelmingly say marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use," Pew Research Center (Nov. 2022).

Rebecca Rivas, "Marijuana vote divided Missouri social-justice leaders. Can an equity officer be a bridge?," Missouri Independent (Nov. 2022).

Maeve Walsh & Natalie Fahmy, "How marijuana could become legal in Ohio in 2023," NBC4i (Jan. 2023).

United States v Harrison, No. CR-22-00328-PRW (W.D. Okla. Feb. 3, 2023).

Jeffrey Miron, "The Budgetary Effects of Ending Drug Prohibition," CATO Institute (July 2018).

April 16, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Student presentation examining the history and failures of D.A.R.E.

DAREStudents in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are continuing with their amazing efforts "taking over" my class through presentations on the research topics of their choice. The first of our presentations for the coming week will be looking at D.A.R.E. Here is how my student has described her topic along with background readings she has provided for her classmates (and the rest of us):

D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) began in the 1980s as a school based program designed to prevent tobacco use, alcohol use, and drug use.  Its beginning is rooted in the War on Drugs and the Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” movement.  The program consists of lectures and simulations conducted by uniformed police officers in classrooms.  D.A.R.E. was extremely prevalent at its height.  As of 2016, 75% of U.S. school districts and 52 countries taught the D.A.R.E. program.  Worldwide over 200 million K-12 children have been taught the D.A.R.E. program.  However, despite D.A.R.E.’s popularity, in the 1990s and early 2000s numerous studies found that D.A.R.E. did not reduce students use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.  In fact, D.A.R.E. likely had a “boomerang effect”, making students more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.  Since 2009 D.A.R.E. has been teaching a revamped program, Keepin’ It Real, but does the Keepin’ It Real program address the issues of the original D.A.R.E. program? Furthermore, in the era of marijuana legalization, how does D.A.R.E. address marijuana? Overall, major changes still need to be made to the D.A.R.E. program for it to remain relevant and useful to K-12 students.

BACKGROUND LINKS

D.A.R.E. website

Press report, "STUDY: D.A.R.E. Teaches Kids About Drugs But Doesn’t Prevent Use" (1994)

Letter from United States General Accounting Office, "Youth Illicit Drug Use Prevention: DARE Long-Term Evaluations and Federal Efforts to Identify Effective Programs" (2003)

Article from Washington Post, "D.A.R.E. Gets Duped by Anti-Pot Satire" (2015)

D.A.R.E., "D.A.R.E.’s Position and Curricula Regarding Marijuana and Legalization" (2018)

Article from Herb, "Has D.A.R.E. Removed Cannabis from 'Gateway' Drugs List?" (2019) 

Commentarty from American Addiction Centers, "Does the New D.A.R.E. Program Work?" (2022)

April 2, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Marijuana legalization loses resoundingly in Oklahoma special election

Oklafeatured2-672x353Marijuana reform ballot initiatives were on quite the hot streak between 2012 and 2020.  Though a handful of initiatives lost in this period, a far larger number prevailed.  Medical marijuana reforms almost always won in both red and blue states, and full legalization initiatives were also almost always successful (in part because they were mostly brought in blue states).  But, in 2022, as full legalization efforts were brought to red states, the reform initiative winning streak came to an end.  As detailed here, though Maryland and Missouri voters approved legalization measures, ballot initiatives failed in Arkansas and North Dakota and South Dakota.

And, as detailed in these special election results from Oklahoma, the full legalization ballot initiative losing streak continued tonight in the Sooner State.  And, with still a few votes yet to be counted, it appears that the initiative is losing big, by 25% points.  This New York Times article, headlined "With a Marijuana Shop on ‘Every Corner,’ Oklahoma Rejects Full Legalization," provides some context:

In the past few years, Oklahoma, long a solid bastion of conservatism, has quietly undergone a street-level transformation when it comes to marijuana. Dispensaries dot the landscape, with more than 400 in Oklahoma City alone. And that’s just for medical marijuana.

On Tuesday, voters across Oklahoma opted against going further, according to The Associated Press, rejecting a ballot initiative that would have legalized recreational marijuana use by adults 21 and over.

With the vote, Oklahoma joined a number of conservative states whose voters have recently decided against recreational marijuana legalization. Though Missouri approved a state constitutional amendment to allow for recreational marijuana in November, voters in other conservative states, including Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, rejected similar proposals.

The vote on Tuesday was a setback for marijuana legalization proponents in Oklahoma who had anticipated that laissez-faire economic attitudes and growing support among younger Republicans would provide a pathway for the state to join a diverse assortment of 21 states and the District of Columbia in adopting legal recreational marijuana, from Alaska and the Mountain West to the coasts and parts of the Midwest.

But voters in Oklahoma, where nearly 10 percent of the population already has a medical marijuana card, appeared to have decided that the current level of access to the drug was enough. In the end, the measure failed. Sixty-three percent voted no, while 38 percent voted yes, with about 90 percent of ballots counted as of Tuesday night....

The state legislature passed a two-year moratorium on new medical marijuana business licenses last year. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, which opposes recreational marijuana legalization, has said the existing marijuana industry in the state is already straining rural infrastructure.

March 7, 2023 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 (1)

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Some background on the recent history of marijuana reform efforts in Ohio

Ballot Initiative Process Diagram_final_7.2022_webStudents in my marijuana reform seminar are quite fortunate to have a special guest speaker coming to class next week.  Tom Haren, who has been called "the Face of Marijuana Legalization in Ohio," serves as a leader with the Coalition to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol in Ohio.  This group collected over 200,000 signatures in 2021 in order to get this statutory initiative petition seeking to fully legalize marijuana for full use in front of the Ohio General Assembly.  A dispute over filing deadlines resulted in a delay in when the initiative could move forward to a ballot vote, as this local article explains, so Ohio voters will now see this issue on their ballots in 2023 if the General Assembly does not address the measure and the campaign collects a second round of signatures after the legislative period.

Though I expect Tom Haren to speak to my class about his work on this initiative and its prospects, I still recall the last major ballot campaign over full legalization in Ohio back in 2015.  Helpfully, the rich and often ugly stories surrounding Ohio marijuana reform efforts in that off-off-year election are chronicled in a 2018 law review article: "Responsible Ohio: Successes, Failures, and the Future of Adult Marijuana Use in Ohio."  That article, though already quite dated, provides an important reminder that "Had Responsible Ohio not brought legalization to the political fore in 2015, it is unlikely that Ohio would have [had] a viable medical program" enacted the following summer.

Of course, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center is the place to go for a lot more information about Ohio's existing medical marijuana program and reform proposals (including the timelines for the ballot initiative).

February 9, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 23, 2023

Highlighting the hazy "who" of marijuana reform with state reforms and persistent federal prohibition

FederlismIn the classroom and also in some of my scholarship, I often lean into the questions relating to "who" takes the lead with various legal doctrines and reforms. In the marijuana space, of course, these "who" questions have the added complications from conflicting federal and state (and sometimes local) laws and regulations.  Usefully, this lengthy new Grid piece provides something of an overview of the messy realities of discordant "whos" in the marijuana policy space.  The full title for the piece highlights its themes: "Marijuana can be legal and illegal at the same time: How the hazy mix of state and federal laws is creating a mess: It’s hard to figure out when and where using or selling marijuana is a crime — and when it’s not."  Here are excerpts:

America is a little dazed and even more confused when it comes to how legal (or not legal) marijuana is. State laws have been changing dramatically over the past decade — but they’re also inconsistent across state borders. Something legal in one state could get you arrested the next state over. It has created a dizzying patchwork of rules, regulations and exceptions made even worse by the federal government’s complete ban of the substance....

[J]ust because federal agents aren’t exactly arresting every single person with a cannabis plant on their windowsill (there aren’t enough agents for that) that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. In child custody cases, for instance, one party can cite marijuana use as a violation of federal law when arguing that someone shouldn’t get custody.

There are also no workplace protections at the federal level, even for workers who use cannabis legally or medicinally in a state. That means that workers can be fired if they fail a drug test, even if they’re in a state where it’s legal and they aren’t currently using or high. Some states have passed worker protections for off-duty use of marijuana to address the issue.

And then there is housing: Federally subsidized public housing bans cannabis use. An applicant or tenant who is found to be in violation of this law might be denied housing or evicted — even if it’s legal in the state they are living in....

Besides the matter of taxes and prices, the matrix of federal and state policies has allowed a thriving “gray market” to proliferate.... This market might take the form of storefronts offering marijuana as a “gift” accompanying a purchase in D.C., where buying and selling weed is illegal — but possessing it isn’t — because of congressional members opposed to legalization putting a rider in a budget bill nearly a decade ago....

The removal of a federal prohibition might result in consolidation. Any huge company, which would be able to ship the product across state lines, could buy out any smaller competitors and bring down prices for legal cannabis products. (For reference, Rand previously estimated that all the cannabis used in the U.S. could be grown on a few dozen industrial-size farms.)

January 23, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Taking a particular look at the middle of US marijuana reform map as the calendar turns to 2023

Mj-map-nov-9-2022Stateline has this notable new article, headlined "Motley Marijuana Laws Drive Consumers — and Revenue — Across State Lines," that gives particular (but still incomplete) attention to the fact that marijuana reform storys have become somewhat consistent on the coasts while being quite varied in the middle of the USA.   I recommend the article in full, and here is a flavor of its coverage:

Less than half a mile south of the Wisconsin border in Illinois, the Sunnyside Cannabis Dispensary bustles with activity. Cars with license plates from Wisconsin, Minnesota and other pot-banning states slide in and out of the shop’s expansive parking lot.

The bright and airy retail store is an easy hop off Interstate 90, which spans the nation’s entire northern tier. For many westbound customers, Sunnyside is the last chance to legally buy recreational, or “adult-use,” marijuana products until Montana, more than 900 miles away. And heading south from this truck-stop town to the small Illinois city of Metropolis, dispensaries likewise hug the Prairie State’s boundaries with Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky, where pot sales are outlawed.

State lines delineate the vastly varying marijuana regulations across the Midwest. Illinois, Michigan and, since December, Missouri allow recreational marijuana, while neighboring states have some of the strictest laws in the nation.  The contrasting statutes create some law enforcement concerns in states where marijuana is outlawed — when residents legally use marijuana just across the border or bring it back home. 

But many elected officials in those states say the larger problem is the loss of potential revenue from an industry that could bring visitors, jobs and tax dollars.  Public support for the liberalization of marijuana laws in this region is growing, following national trends.  Much of the debate is economic, as restrictive states see their residents paying marijuana sales and excise taxes to neighboring states.

In Illinois, which legalized adult-use marijuana in 2019, out-of-state residents account for 30% of recreational marijuana sales, according to state filings. Sales in the state have risen from just more than $400 million in fiscal 2020 to more than $1.5 billion in fiscal 2022.  Tax disbursements to local Illinois governments in fiscal 2022 reached $146.2 million, a 77% increase over 2021.

Illinois law mandates that a fourth of marijuana tax revenue be used to support communities that are “economically distressed, experience high rates of violence, and have been disproportionately impacted by drug criminalization.”  The significant revenue is a big pull for states that outlaw marijuana to consider changing their policies. But some opponents to legalized cannabis worry about what other effects marijuana sales could have on their communities....

Indiana, which has some of the nation’s toughest marijuana laws, borders two states (Illinois and Michigan) with recreational sales. “I try to enforce the laws as best I can based on what Indiana wants us to do,” said Ken Cotter, prosecutor for St. Joseph County, Indiana, along the Michigan border. The region is known as Michiana.

“I was worried that if Michigan legalizes marijuana, folks from Indiana might want to go to Michigan, get the marijuana and drive back — that's one thing. But if they then went to Michigan, legally smoked it there and then drove [under the influence], that's a whole different ball game,” Cotter said. Cotter, a Democrat, said there has not been an increase in marijuana possession cases in his jurisdiction since Michigan legalized recreational sales in 2018, but that marijuana-based DUI charges have “increased dramatically.”

But Cotter was cautious not to draw broader conclusions from his jurisdiction of 270,000 residents, stressing that more data and reporting is a pressing public safety need. That’s in line with an expansive 2021 report from the Cato Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank based in Washington, D.C., suggesting it’s too soon to know all the effects of the changing laws.  The report noted that early studies, including those on public safety, have varied conclusions, and that data comparisons at this point can be problematic.

A recent survey by a national law firm finds some Midwestern states among those least favorable to the cannabis industry. Indiana’s laws rank 49th among states and the District of Columbia in receptiveness to cannabis, according to Thompson Coburn, a national law firm that has a cannabis practice. Wisconsin stands 47th, Kentucky 41st and Iowa 38th. In Wisconsin, for example, the first conviction for a small amount of marijuana possession is a misdemeanor, but any subsequent possession charge is a felony....

In Minnesota, where Democrats now control the governorship and both chambers of the legislature, lawmakers introduced an adult-use bill on Jan. 5. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz quickly tweeted his support: “It's time to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis convictions in Minnesota. I’m ready to sign it into law.”

And in Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers told Wisconsin Public Radio in December that recreational marijuana will “be in the budget,” but that a hostile GOP-led legislature stands in the way. "Even though the people of Wisconsin by huge numbers in polling support recreational marijuana in the state of Wisconsin, I just don't know if the Republicans are there yet," Evers told WPR. "All I know is that there is talk on the Republican side, from what I've heard, around medicinal."...

Iowa appears unlikely to move toward liberalization of its marijuana laws, despite a Des Moines Register poll from 2021 showing 54% of Iowans supporting the legalization of adult-use products.

January 10, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)