Thursday, December 7, 2023
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
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
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
Later 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:
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
As 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.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Officially, Ohio voters will get to consider legislative ballot initiative to fully legal marijuana in November 2023
As 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.
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
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?"
The 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
As 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.
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
Carissa Byrne Hessick, Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina
Sunday, April 16, 2023
Student presentation exploring how Republicans might tackle marijuana reform from a conservative direction
I 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.
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).
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Students 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.
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)
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Marijuana 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
Students 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).
Monday, January 23, 2023
Highlighting the hazy "who" of marijuana reform with state reforms and persistent federal prohibition
In 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
Stateline 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)
As I am gearing up for another exciting new semester of teaching my always exciting Marijuana Law and Policy seminar at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, I was especially drawn to this lengthy new op-ed by Justin Strekal at Marijuana Moment which has the same title as this post. I recommend the full piece, and here are excerpts highlighting some of its main themes:
2022 was the best of times for marijuana policy reform in America—but if you read the headlines or (god forbid) log onto Twitter, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was the worst.
This Orwellian doublethink is understandable if you look at it through the lens of a minute-by-minute analysis, or by only looking at the stock prices of the young, dominant players in the emerging cannabis industry. But we must keep the long game in mind when we think about ending the 85-year policy of marijuana prohibition and criminalization....
I have been a supporter of the SAFE Banking Act since I started at NORML in 2016, and I even took pro-SAFE meetings with groups that have since evolved their positions on the bill and are now demanding reforms to its underlying structure.
Back then, the purpose of the effort was to advance an aspect of legalization and the regulated marketplaces in Congress at a time when neither chamber had a leader who explicitly said they supported reform, be it SAFE or comprehensive. In other words, being for SAFE Banking was a form of harm reduction, not a cure.
Since the 115th Congress, a lot has changed. This includes the funding power of the reform movement, which has shifted dramatically in recent years, with the number of earnest advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project and Americans for Safe Access shrinking, for example. On the flip-side, K Street lobby shops are hiring new suits seemingly every month, many of whom never thought about marijuana prohibition before being paid by a private company or trade association to do so....
As for what the Republican flip in the House means for this reported agreement between Schumer and Daines? What about comprehensive reform? Well, I’m not going to give you a percentage likelihood because only snake oil salespeople treat Congress like a betting market.
Whatever comes next in the House majority, it’s important to remember that 51 percent of House Republicans already voted for SAFE in the last Congress, including leaders like Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Bryon Donalds (R-FL), Kevin Hern (R-OK) and many others....
Because democracy is a verb and, as recent and ongoing events clearly show, things are not working well in America. But for the first time ever, there is actually a pathway to accomplish something pertaining to marijuana law reform — but only if the monied interests are willing to live up to the rhetoric they espouse.
January 10, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, November 10, 2022
US House subcommittee hearing scheduled on "Developments in State Cannabis Laws and Bipartisan Cannabis Reforms at the Federal Level"
Interestingly, on the morning of Election Day, the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform released this notice announcing that on "Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will host a hybrid hearing titled 'Developments in State Cannabis Laws and Bipartisan Cannabis Reforms at the Federal Level'.” The next evening, this follow-up memo was released providing a lot more notable details about this notable congressional hearing (including a list of scheduled witnesses). Here are excerpts:
On October 6, 2022, President Biden announced that he granted a pardon to everyone convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law and called for a review of how marijuana is scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Advocates for cannabis reform welcomed the President’s actions but continue to call for action in the legislative branch to decriminalize cannabis....
This hearing will be a bipartisan examination of the many benefits of decriminalization at the federal level, including: criminal justice reform, which will largely benefit communities of color, as well as the justice system more broadly; access for veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the ability for the legal cannabis industry to access financial services.
And this official website provides some more interesting background and also the expected witnesses. Here is a snippet:
On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Nancy Mace, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, will hold a hybrid hearing to examine the many benefits of cannabis decriminalization at the federal level, including addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, improving treatment options for veterans, and allowing marijuana companies to access traditional banking services.
Marijuana arrests account for 43% of all drug arrests, and nine in ten of those marijuana arrests are for simple possession. Although Black and white people use cannabis at roughly the same rates, Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for violating marijuana possession laws, which carries life-altering implications for employment, housing, and education. Decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level and expunging criminal convictions for possession would alleviate these burdens and allow for societal advancement.
November 10, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
The approval of marijuana legalization in the two biggest states considering ballot initiatives this election cycle — Maryland and Missouri — means that a lot more people voted for than against legalization this Fall. But reform opponents are surely pleased that voters in three other states — Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota — rejected legalization initiatives. This MJBizDaily piece, headlined "US marijuana industry wins in Maryland and likely Missouri but suffers losses elsewhere," reviews the details and starts this way:
Marijuana legalization’s yearslong winning streak finally stopped at a red wall in conservative states in the South and West on Tuesday, but the 2022 election still brought a solid win in Maryland – and legalization advocates declared victory in Missouri early Wednesday, too. Together, the two states could lead to nearly $2 billion in adult-use sales within a few years of their launch.
Voters in Maryland approved the 20th adult-use market, one that is projected to generate as much as $600 million in its first year and up to $1 billion by year four.
Recreational marijuana legalization in Missouri was too close to call for most of election night, but with yes votes ahead by about 6 percentage points with more than 90% of the votes counted, both the statewide campaign and national advocacy groups claimed victory. First-year sales of an adult-use marijuana market in Missouri could reach up to $550 million, according to MJBizDaily estimates, with fourth-year sales projected to be $800 million-$900 million.
November 9, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
I have sensed that marijuana reform ballot meansures and related topics have received more mainstream media attention than usual this election cycle. Consequently, I will not try to round up here all the mainstream press coverage and instead will just highlight a set of resources I find useful that readers might also find useful.
Of course, I need to start with the "Drugs on the Ballot: 2022" resource put together by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC). That resource page not only includes a detailed accounting of the measures on the ballot in 2022, but the page also has a set of terrific interactive graphics mapping out both "Marijuana Ballot Measures Over Time" and "Marijuana Legalization Over Time."
Next, I want to flag the great work of the folks at Bolts, a relatively new "digital magazine that covers the nuts and bolts of power and political change, from the local up." Bolts covers lots and lots of ground extremely well, and it recently has a piece reviewing the ballot measures headlined "Six States Are Voting on Legalizing Weed or Psychedelics."
Moving from an election site to a marijuiana one, MJBiz Daily already has lots of election coverage and has a lot more promised. Here are a few of their recent election pieces that caught my eye:
- "New adult-use marijuana markets worth more than $1.5 billion on the ballot"
- "Key congressional races the marijuana industry should watch"
- "Polls suggest mixed results for adult-use marijuana legalization ballot measures"
- "MJBizDaily to provide in-depth Election Day coverage of marijuana measures"
And, staying in the marijuana news space, Marijuana Moment will also be sure to keep delivering great election-related coverage. Here are some of its recent notable postings:
- "Live 2022 Marijuana Election Results"
- Detailed articles assembled here about all the state and many local reform initiatives
- "Congress Will Hold A Marijuana Hearing One Week After Five States Vote On Legalization Ballot Measures"