Tuesday, June 11, 2024

"Drug Crimes: The Case for Abolition"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by my Ohio State colleague Sean Hill now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Nonwhite communities experience higher rates of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration than white communities for drug offenses, and these disparities have persisted even in the wake of decriminalization and legalization. Although a diverse array of political stakeholders increasingly agree that drug policies should be reformed, they are nearly unanimous in their opposition to abolition.  While select drug crimes may be worthy of reduced punishment or conversion into civil offenses, these stakeholders contend that the abolition of criminal institutions will inevitably jeopardize public safety.

This Article challenges the widespread presumption that drug law and policy correlates with the protection of the public.  Drug crimes are, instead, an essential vehicle for the subordination of nonwhite people and for the misallocation of resources across racial groups.  Part I of the article contests the presumed correlation between illicit drugs and violence and illuminates how drug criminalization erodes individual and collective safety.  Part II addresses how drug policy sustains white and American hegemony, respectively, by legitimating racist ideologies and by justifying force against marginalized people both in and outside of the country's borders.  Finally, Part III explains how abolition represents a viable path away from the harms of prohibitionist policies.

June 11, 2024 in History of Alcohol Prohibition and Temperance Movements, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 6, 2024

"Just Don't Do It: Why Cannabis Regulations are the Reason Cannabis Businesses are Failing"

The title of this post is the title of this new article available now via SSRN authored by Edward Adams. Here are parts of its abstract:

In the last decade, more and more states have legalized the recreational or medicinal use of cannabis and, in the coming years, many more are likely to follow.  The change that has been advocated by proponents of cannabis reform, including some organizations like NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, that have existed since the 1970s, is finally upon us....  Due to political variation among the states and the protracted process of reform, the cutting edge of cannabis regulation is in an incredible state of flux, and the nation-wide regulatory scheme is a jumble of policy choices; many of which are directly opposite to those of neighboring states.

In attempt to impose some order on the complexities of state cannabis regulation, Part III will canvas the current legal status of the substance in the United States, including a state survey and an in-depth exploration of the various policy decisions facing states that are considering reform.  This portion will also examine some recent, incremental shifts in the federal laws that overlay what is primarily a state level regulatory scheme.  Even after looking to the past and the present, the future remains uncertain.  Many significant impediments to the reform movement remain in place.  For example, even in states where cannabis has been recreationally legalized, local governments have retained (and exercised) the power to prohibit the substance within their jurisdictions.

Part IV will contain a discussion of this and similar roadblocks to reform that lurk in the background of the dynamic environment surrounding cannabis regulation in the United States.  Through understanding the complex history of cannabis regulation and legalization, the current legal landscape, and the existing roadblocks to reform, Part V will discuss how the legal and regulatory landscape causes so many cannabis companies to fail. Cannabis reform needs to happen in order for cannabis companies to become profitable.  For now, the cannabis legal regime creates significant hurdles that result in failing companies with little chance of success. 

June 6, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

"The False Promise of Rescheduling"

The title of this post is the title of this timely new paper authored by Robert Mikos and now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

The federal government appears poised to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Advocates have suggested the move will generate substantial benefits for the state-licensed marijuana industry, which has struggled to secure basic legal and business services under federal prohibition.  But this Essay serves as a reality check.  It suggests the expectations surrounding rescheduling are highly inflated, for two reasons.

First, rescheduling still might not happen.  To reschedule marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would have to change its long-standing interpretation of key statutory scheduling criteria.  Even if the Biden Administration were willing to do that (the jury is still out), a future Administration might reconsider.  If President Biden loses the fall 2024 election, nothing would stop his successor from quickly returning marijuana to the tightly regulated Schedule I.

Second, even if it happens, rescheduling to a lower schedule under the CSA will not greatly improve the fortunes of the marijuana industry.  The CSA will continue to impose a litany of restrictions on the manufacture and sale of marijuana.  What is more, the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) will still ban all interstate commerce in the drug.  (Marijuana would still not be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, post-rescheduling.)  If firms in the industry fail to comply with the rules imposed by these two statutes — as seems almost inevitable — they could still be denied banking, bankruptcy protection, intellectual property protection, contract enforcement, and other key services, just as they are today.  The Essay suggests that only Congress can remove all these challenges. To obtain more impactful and comprehensive reforms to federal marijuana policy, advocates should eschew the false promise of administrative rescheduling and focus instead on convincing Congress to enact reform legislation.

May 1, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Widespread new reporting that DEA is rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act

ImagesAs reported in this new AP article, the "U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, The Associated Press has learned, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country."  Here is more on a legal developments that has been expected, but is still a very big deal:

The DEA’s proposal, which still must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. However, it would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use. The agency’s move, confirmed to the AP on Tuesday by five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive regulatory review, clears the last significant regulatory hurdle before the agency’s biggest policy change in more than 50 years can take effect.

Once OMB signs off, the DEA will take public comment on the plan to move marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. It moves pot to Schedule III, alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids, following a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department. After the public comment period and a review by an administrative judge, the agency would eventually publish the final rule....

Biden and a growing number of lawmakers from both major political parties have been pushing for the DEA decision as marijuana has become increasingly decriminalized and accepted, particularly by younger people. A Gallup poll last fall found 70% of adults support legalization, the highest level yet recorded by the polling firm and more than double the roughly 30% who backed it in 2000. The DEA didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

Schedule III drugs are still controlled substances and subject to rules and regulations, and people who traffic in them without permission could still face federal criminal prosecution. Some critics argue the DEA shouldn’t change course on marijuana, saying rescheduling isn’t necessary and could lead to harmful side effects....

Federal drug policy has lagged behind many states in recent years, with 38 having already legalized medical marijuana and 24 legalizing its recreational use. That’s helped fuel fast growth in the marijuana industry, with an estimated worth of nearly $30 billion. Easing federal regulations could reduce the tax burden that can be 70% or more for businesses, according to industry groups. It could also make it easier to research marijuana, since it’s very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies on Schedule I substances.

The immediate effect of rescheduling on the nation’s criminal justice system would likely be more muted, since federal prosecutions for simple possession have been fairly rare in recent years. But loosening restrictions could carry a host of unintended consequences in the drug war and beyond.

Critics point out that as a Schedule III drug, marijuana would remain regulated by the DEA. That means the roughly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the U.S. would have to register with the DEA like regular pharmacies and fulfill strict reporting requirements, something that they are loath to do and that the DEA is ill equipped to handle.

Then there’s the United States’ international treaty obligations, chief among them the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which requires the criminalization of cannabis. In 2016, during the Obama administration, the DEA cited the U.S.’ international obligations and the findings of a federal court of appeals in Washington in denying a similar request to reschedule marijuana. 

April 30, 2024 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

"Budding cannabis law courses are growing — but not fast enough"

Though I am done teaching my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar for this semester, I am still having a grand time working with students on their final papers.  And all the work by and with my students all semester long deeply reinforces my sense that marijuana courses in law school can serve as a terrific way to cover all sorts of legal doctrines and policies and pragmatic issues that lawyers can and will confront in many settings.  With these matters in mind, I am so very pleased to see this new ABA Journal article with the headline that serves as the title fo this post.  Here are some excerpts:

Inspired by President Joe Biden’s call to review cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I controlled substance and many states’ moves to legalize weed for medical and general use, an increasing number of law schools around the country are offering cannabis law courses.

In the 2022-2023 academic year, 45 law schools—or about 22% of the 197 ABA-accredited schools—offered a combined total of 47 cannabis law courses, according to research by the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  Although that’s an increase of 24 schools compared to four years earlier in the 2018-2019 academic year, some professors think that even more are needed. “We’re still playing catch-up,” says Robert Mikos, a professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School who has taught a class on marijuana law and policy for more than 10 years....

As the weed business grows, so does the need for lawyers. There are jobs in this field, and they extend far beyond representing cannabis dispensaries, says Mikos ...  Opportunities include working for government regulatory agencies tasked with supervising the licensed cannabis industry, working as advocates and representing investors whose holdings touch the industry, such as real estate that a dispensary wants to rent....

In the classroom, professors must balance theory with myriad practical and ethical issues embedded in the ever-changing state laws and federal regulation, they say. Intersections with cannabis law include constitutional law, taxes, intellectual property, real estate, the environment and workers’ rights.

Most cannabis law classes are directed at upper-level students.  “It’s a great capstone course,” Mikos says. “If you’re a 3L, you might have encountered already constitutional law, criminal law, corporations or administrative law. Now, you get to put that into practice and put it all together in a very concrete way.”

April 16, 2024 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 25, 2024

Student presentation exploring Delta-8 THC products

Images (2)As noted in this prior post, there is an on-going debate in Ohio (as well as in many other jurisdictions) about so-called Delta-8 or "intoxicating hemp" products.  Helpfully, the last planned presentation for this week in my Marijuana Law seminar is going to cover issues surrounding Delta-8, and here are some resources that she provided for some background:

Background information about Delta-8:

Leas, EC. The Hemp Loophole: A Need to Clarify the Legality of Delta-8-THC and Other Hemp-Derived Tetrahydrocannabinol Compounds. Am J Public Health. 2021 Nov;111(11):1927-1931.

FDA and DEA Regulation:

FDA advises against use: 5 Things to Know about Delt-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC. Food and Drug Administration. May 5, 2022.

Coverage of warning letters sent to Delta-8 brands by FDA.

Good summary of case interpreting "hemp" to include Delta-8 products under Farm Bill 

Good summary of possible DEA Interpretation

Coverage of the push from the states for federal regulation

Report on study regarding Delat-8 use and state regulation

March 25, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | 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)

Monday, February 5, 2024

Marking new era (and new generation) substituting marijuana for alcohol?

When I first started paying attention to marijuana reforms and its potential impacts, I recall a number of public health experts suggesting that greater use of marijuana could end up a public health benefit if marijuana was used as a substitute for alcohol, but greater use would likely be a public health problem if used as a supplement to alcohol.  Against that backdrop, all these new press stories about trends in the start of 2024 seemed worth flagging:

From Bloomberg, "Weed Sales Boom in Dry January as People Drink Less"

From Forbes, "Almost Half Of Those Doing Dry January Use Cannabis — Can It Help You Quit Alcohol?"

From Fortune, "Gen Z’s buyers’ strike on alcohol turns ‘Dry January’ into skyhigh new year"

From Kiplinger, "Dry January Can Boost Weed Sales: This Week in Cannabis Investing"

From Modern Retail, "Cannabis beverage brands capitalized on Dry January interest"

From the New York Times, "What Does Being Sober Mean Today? For Many, Not Full Abstinence."

From Vice, "The Rise of 'Sober But', the Dry January Where You Still Do Drugs"

February 5, 2024 in History of Alcohol Prohibition and Temperance Movements, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Now for some marijuana year-in-preview pieces

Friday, December 29, 2023

Reviewing some marijuana year-in-review stories

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)

Friday, November 10, 2023

"Putting Patients First: Medical Cannabis Use Patterns and Policy Protections"

Download (1)The title of this post is the title of this notable new R Street policy study authored by Chelsea Boyd.  Here is  its executive summary:

Historically, cannabis has been used for medical purposes for millennia. Cannabis was introduced into western medicine in the mid-1800s but began to decline in use by the early 1900s.  It was made a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which effectively prevented research on its potential medical uses and benefits. Nevertheless, since 1996, more than three-quarters of states have legalized the medical use of cannabis in some form. This policy study explores what is known about medical cannabis patients’ use patterns and preferences; describes marketplace trends and medical relevance of cannabinoid content; and suggests policies that promote the availability of safe, effective and accessible medical cannabis products for patients.

Because there is limited research on cannabis as a therapeutic treatment, it is hard to make conclusive statements about effective dosing and use patterns for specific conditions or patient populations. Nevertheless, compared to non-medical users, medical cannabis patients tend to use daily, via multiple routes of administration, and do not report a desire to experience cannabis’ psychotropic effects. Medical patients also seem to prefer different cannabinoid profiles than non-medical users. Keeping in mind that, for many patients, finding the most effective use pattern is a process of trial and error, ensuring a wide variety of products with different cannabinoid ratios is one policy that can enable patients to find the most beneficial product combinations for their conditions. Similarly, because medical patient preferences are different from non-medical users, insulating medical markets from the potential pressures of the adult-use market can ensure that patients have access to products they prefer, even after a state legalizes adult use.

Additionally, when states legalize medical cannabis, they have a duty to ensure that any markets that emerge are safe. Because cannabis is regulated at the state level, there is notable variability in cannabis markets and product standards. Ensuring that each state has accurate, comprehensive and (when possible) evidence-based labeling standards can help patients make informed decisions about the products they use. States can also protect patients by regulating contaminants appropriately. Practical medical cannabis policies are necessary to ensure patient safety and allow the greatest accessibility.

November 10, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Ohio votes for legalizing marijuana by a (surprisingly?) large margin for a red state

DownloadOhio was long considered a swing or bellwether state, though the state has started trending quite "red" with Donald Trump and state GOP candidates carrying the state by significant margins in recent years.  This recent "red" trend would seem to make the Buckeye State's vote today on marijuana legalization especially significant.  Specifically, as of this writing just before midnight, a marijuana legalization initiative, Issue 2, has secured a nearly 13% point victory with 93% of the votes reported.  As detailed in this NY Times accounting, Yes on Issue 2 has garnered 56.5% of the Ohio vote, even a higher percentage that the abortion rights initiative also on the Ohio 2023 ballot (which still is passing handily at 55.8%)

Marijuana legalization initiatives had recently been a losing proposition in deep red states like Arkansas and Oklahoma and North Dakota and South Dakota.  But light red Missouri legalized marijuana by initiative in 2022, and Ohio tonight follow the same path despite the fact that nearly all the state's GOP leaders advocated against the marijuana legalization initiative.

For many reasons, I will be quite interested to see how Ohio moves forward with implementation of its legalization initiative.

November 7, 2023 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Tulsa Law Review examining "Contemporary Cannabis: Wading Through a Post-Prohibition Era"

I was asked to post this call for papers, which I am happy to do:

Tulsa Law Review, in conjunction with the University of Tulsa College of Law and the University of Tulsa, is hosting a Symposium on Cannabis Law and Policy on March 1, 2024.

Theme: Contemporary Cannabis: Wading Through a Post-Prohibition Era

Tulsa Law Review invites interested parties to write and submit relevant articles for publication consideration in our 2024 Symposium Issue.  One panel will focus on evidentiary and interdisciplinary issues with the increasing legalization of cannabis at the medical and recreation level.  The other panel will discuss legalization at the state level and its effects on corporate and banking spheres.

With the recent announcement of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III substance, we are excited to facilitate a thoughtful discussion and a variety of papers surrounding this timely topic.

Questions and paper proposals should be submitted to Cameron Skinner, Tulsa Law Review symposium editor, [email protected]

September 12, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical community perspectives, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

"A Prescription for Progress? Would a Schedule III Reclassification of Psychoactive Cannabis Help or Hurt State Operators?"

The title of this post is the title of this timely new paper now on SSRN and authored by Benton Bodamer, who is a member of Dickinson Wright PLLC and an Adjunct Professor of Law at OSU and affiliated with the Drug Enforcement Policy Center. Here is its abstract:

On August 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concluded a scheduling review of psychoactive cannabis and recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration “reschedule” psychoactive cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.  The next 6 to 12 months could be among the most transformative for the U.S. cannabis industry, but progress is unlikely to come without regulatory confusion, conflicts of federal laws, and unintended consequences.  This paper aims to answer major questions that remain following the release of HHS’s statement, including why psychoactive cannabis was on Schedule I given its medical uses, whether a move to Schedule III effectively legalizes existing state-compliant cannabis companies, if relief from 280E tax or advertising restrictions are likely, and whether a move to Schedule III opens up banking for existing cannabis companies.  The paper ends with a look at the road ahead.

September 12, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

"Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Through Administrative Action"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Scott Bloomberg, Alexandra Harriman and Shane Pennington.  Here is its abstract:

In October 2022, President Biden requested that the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General initiate a procedure to review how marijuana is scheduled under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”).  The announcement was historic.  After more than fifty years of federal prohibition, decades of advocacy and litigation from reform groups, and dozens of stalled efforts in Congress, a President finally decided to wield the Executive Power with an eye towards rescheduling or descheduling marijuana.  But just how far does that power go?

That question has been severely underexplored in legal scholarship.  Indeed, our Article is the first to fully navigate the thicket of statutory and administrative law that dictates the scope of the President’s power to unilaterally reschedule or deschedule marijuana.  In doing so, we conclude that the CSA’s administrative drug-scheduling procedure is much broader than prior scholarship has led on.  We identify several avenues for the President to move marijuana to a less restrictive schedule and highlight a narrower pathway to deschedule marijuana entirely.

These findings are of immediate relevance.   They can help guide the Executive Branch as it reconsiders how marijuana is scheduled and will prove useful to courts when the Biden Administration’s eventual decision is, inevitably, subjected to judicial review.

August 24, 2023 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, 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)

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Ohio voters seemingly likely to have opportunity to vote on marijuana legalization in November 2023

Ohio-flag-marijuana-minAs reported in this AP piece, headlined "A campaign to ask Ohio voters to legalize recreational marijuana falls short -- for now," the effort to put marijuana legalization before Ohio voters has hit a small (and surmountable) bump.  Here are the details:

A proposal to legalize adult use of marijuana in Ohio narrowly fell short Tuesday of the signatures it needed to make the fall statewide ballot. Backers will have 10 days, or until Aug. 4, to gather more.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose determined the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was short by just 679 signatures of the 124,046 signatures required to put the question before voters on Nov. 7.

Tom Haren, a coalition spokesperson, said he was confident the group could find the signatures by the Aug. 4 deadline.  “It looks like we came up a little short in this first phase, but now we have 10 days to find just 679 voters to sign a supplemental petition — this is going to be easy, because a majority of Ohioans support our proposal to regulate and tax adult use marijuana,” Haren said in a statement.

If the initiative makes the November ballot, a simple majority vote is required for it to pass....  The ballot measure proposes allowing adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow plants at home. A 10% tax would support administrative costs, addiction treatment, municipalities with dispensaries and social equity and jobs programs.

If the issue passes, Ohio would become the 24th state to legalize cannabis for adult use.  The outcome of a special election Aug. 8 on whether to raise the bar for passing future constitutional amendments wouldn’t impact the marijuana question, since it was advanced through the citizen initiated statute process.

July 26, 2023 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Minnesota poised to become 23rd state to legalize marijuana for adult use

Minnesota-MN-Capitol-Marijuana-Cannabis-sqkAs reported in this Fox News piece, "The Minnesota Senate passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state for adults ages 21 and older.  The measure, approved early Saturday morning, will now head to Democrat Gov. Tim Walz's desk for signature.  He is expected to sign the bill into law."   Here are some of the particulars:

Starting August 1, the bill would allow people 21 and older to carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana in public and possess up to 2 pounds at home.   These adults could also grow home plants.  But possessing more than those limits or selling the product without a state license could result in criminal penalties and civil fines....

Minnesota would become the 23rd state, plus Washington, D.C., to legalize recreational marijuana. 

The legislation was approved by the state Senate in a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor.  The state House passed the bill Thursday night with five Republicans joining all but one Democrat in approving the measure....  The House had approved the bill in recent years, but the effort was stalled by a Republican-led Senate. That changed this year when Democrats took control of the chamber.

The bill would also automatically expunge low-level cannabis convictions and set up a board to consider expungement or resentencing of felony crimes.  "Starting right away, we will begin the process of expunging tens of thousands of cannabis convictions," House bill sponsor Rep. Zack Stephenson said on Twitter.  "But it took 50 years to create all those convictions, and it will take months, even years, to complete this process."

Newly regulated dispensaries, once operational, will be permitted for cultivation, manufacturing and lawful sale of cannabis products, depending on the licenses they are approved for.  There will be a 10% gross receipts tax on the products, in addition to existing local and state general sales taxes.  Stephenson said in his tweet that he expects it to take up to 18 months before licensed dispensaries would be available to shop in as a new state agency works to set up the legal market.

May 21, 2023 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The First State becomes the 22nd state to fully legalize marijuana

Download (1)As reported in this local article, "Gov. John Carney on Friday said he would let the bills to legalize marijuana and create a recreational industry become law without his signature, standing down from his aversions to recreational weed that put him at odds with his party." Here is more:

Delaware is the 22nd state to legalize recreational marijuana, after a nearly decadeslong fight by advocates and Democrats to enact these policies.  Carney, in a statement, said he still believes legalizing weed is “not a step forward.”

“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed,” the governor said in a statement.  “And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation.  I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day.  It’s time to move on.”

Carney said he could not sign these bills due to his concerns about the health consequences recreational marijuana will have on children, as well as roadway safety.  Along with House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, the governor is the rare Democrat to not support weed legalization....

Marijuana, in the quantity of personal use, becomes legal starting Sunday. Delawareans will not be able to purchase recreational weed in the First State for at least 16 months.  It will still be illegal to consume marijuana in public, and employers are still allowed to have a zero-tolerance policy.  Like it has in neighboring states, a Delaware recreational marijuana industry could bring in tens of millions in tax revenue.

The General Assembly in March passed two marijuana-related bills: House Bill 1 legalizes the "personal use quantity" of marijuana, which varies by cannabis form, for people ages 21 and older.  This is defined as 1 ounce or less of leaf marijuana, 12 grams or less of concentrated cannabis, or cannabis products containing 750 milligrams or less of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

The second bill, House Bill 2, creates and regulates the recreational marijuana industry in Delaware.  Within 16 months of the legislation going into effect, the state will distribute 30 retail licenses through a competitive bidding process.  There would be a marijuana control enforcement fee of 15% and 7% of the marijuana tax revenue into a Justice Reinvestment Fund.  This money, lawmakers say, will create grants and services that focus on restorative justice and reducing the state’s prison population....

The governor was sent the bills last week, starting a 10-day clock for him to make a decision on the future of the bills. He had three options: sign, veto or do nothing, which would allow it to become law.  The governor vetoed a similar legalization bill, resulting in a rare and historic moment for lawmakers: They attempted to override.  A successful veto override hasn’t been done since 1977.  And it’s rarely attempted.

The Delaware General Assembly has been hesitant to take on the governor, especially when he is a member of their own party.  So, despite the attempt last year, many lawmakers who supported the bill acquiesced. Yet this year appeared to be different.  The bills sponsor Rep Ed. Osienski, a Newark Democrat, said last week that he had the votes for successful overrides on both bills.

April 22, 2023 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)