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)

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Kentucky becomes 38th state to legalize marijuana

KYUnder the US Constitution, any proposed amendment requires ratification by three-fourths of the states.  That means now approval of 38 of our 50 states are required to amend the Constitution. I thought it worth highlighting this math of constitutional reform in conjunction the news from Kentucky that the Bluegrass state has now become the 38th state to legalize medical marijuana.  This local piece, headlined "Kentucky bill legalizing medical marijuana signed into law," provides these details:

After a decade of failed attempts in the state legislature, a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky received final passage Thursday just hours before the adjournment of the 2023 session. Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law Friday morning before a bipartisan crowd of legislators and advocates, making Kentucky at least the 38th state to legalize medical cannabis.

The actual implementation of the state program will not go into effect until the beginning of 2025....

Senate Bill 47 passed the House by a bipartisan 66-33 vote shortly after it cleared a House committee, with most Republicans and all but one Democrat voting to legalize and regulate the drug.  The passage was a celebration for those who had pushed for legalization in Frankfort over the past decade, coming very close in recent years.

The House had passed a medical marijuana bill two out of the last three years, only to have it die in the Senate due to lack of sufficient support in the socially conservative Republican caucus.  This year the bill started in the Senate, passing through that chamber for the first time two weeks ago by a significant margin.

In the committee meeting, longtime legalization advocate Eric Crawford — a quadriplegic since a vehicle accident 30 years ago — told legislators how marijuana is the only drug that has effectively treated his severe pain and spasms without side effects, saying he and others with serious medical conditions should not have to live in fear of obtaining and using a drug that works....

Under SB 47, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services would be responsible for the implementation, operation, oversight and regulation of the program and its cultivators, dispensaries and producers.  Patients with at least six medical conditions would be eligible to receive a medical marijuana card in Kentucky's program.  The conditions include: Any type or form of cancer regardless of stage; Chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain; Epilepsy or any other intractable seizure disorder; Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity; Chronic nausea that has proven resistant to other conventional medical treatments; Post-traumatic stress disorder

A patient also could be eligible if diagnosed with a medical condition or disease and the newly established Kentucky Center for Cannabis at the University of Kentucky determines they could be helped by use.  The center would determine through data and research that the patient is "likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits."

Card holders would have to be 18 years old or a caretaker for an eligible child.  Patients receiving medical marijuana at a dispensary would not be able to smoke it, but would be able to consume it through vaporizing or edible and topical products.

In committee, Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, a supporter who was the lead sponsor of medical marijuana bills in sessions past, warned that under the bill, patients who smoked marijuana instead of consuming it by other methods would be breaking the law and subject to losing their medical cannabis cards.  "You will lose your card if you get caught smoking and you will go to jail, as you ought to," Nemes said. "This is not a wink wink, nod nod medical program."...

In a tweet Thursday, Beshear cheered the passage of HB 551, noting that he signed an executive order last year to help some individuals with certified medical conditions avoid prosecution for possessing and using marijuana — partly out of frustration with the legislature and as an incentive for them to pass it into law....  In the signing ceremony in the Capitol rotunda Friday morning, Beshear and Republican legislators spoke about the historic nature of the moment and praised each other for pushing it into law — celebrating the fact that thousands who are in pain and suffering will be helped.

April 1, 2023 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)

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)

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Student presentation on "The Role of Medical Cannabis Programs in a Society Moving Towards Adult-Use Regulation"

1659520761Rounding out an exciting first week of student presentations in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, the fourth presentation scheduled for the coming week will look at "The Role of Medical Cannabis Programs in a Society Moving Towards Adult-Use Regulation." Here is how my student has previewed his topic along with a bunch of background readings:

Over the last three decades, cannabis has slowly become an increasingly salient topic of debate in the United States – for a litany of different reasons.  As the plant began to shed the stigma placed on it by politicians and citizens alike, pioneering researchers in the 1980s and 1990s started to take a closer look at cannabis’ properties and effects on humans (based on hundreds of years of cannabis use as medicine in eastern cultures).  Beginning with California in 1996, states began to fulfill their purposes as laboratories of democracy with respect to cannabis through legalization of medical cannabis programs based on data collected by researchers.

However, as the debate over cannabis has progressed into more modern contexts, society has become increasingly perceptive to federal de-scheduling of the drug and implementation of adult-use policies in states across the country.  As state adult-use programs have continued to grow in numbers, there is a split in opinion as to a) how medical programs should be treated moving forward; b) whether they were ever really more than a trojan horse for the eventual full legalization of cannabis across the country; c) and whether resources should continue to be applied to their improvement and growth at all, if full legalization occurs. 

This research project will focus on addressing this debate through i) an examination of history behind medical cannabis and the data supporting cannabis’ viability as a medicine; ii) determining issues present in medical cannabis programs as adult-use programs continue to burgeon; iii) potential effects of federal de-scheduling of cannabis on medical markets; and iv) examining Ohio’s medical cannabis program as a case study on the law, policy, and politics underlying the debate -- and whether Ohio’s program is worth “fixing” with the growing imminence of an adult-use regime.

Suggested background:

Britannica ProCon.org, "Timeline on Medical Cannabis Progression" (Focus 1974 – Present) 

Antonio Waldo Zuardi, "History of cannabis as a medicine: a review" (published in 2006)

New York Times article on California’s Prop 215, "Medical Marijuana Use Winning Backing" (Oct. 1996)

Third Way Report, "America’s Marijuana Evolution" (Aug. 2017)

Hannah Carliner et al., "Cannabis use, attitudes, and legal status in the U.S.: A review" (published in 2017)

Mayo Clinic, "Medical Marijuana

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Chapter 4 on State of Evidence, "Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids" (published in 2017) 

News report on 'fixing' Ohio’s medical cannabis program, "Lawmakers look to solve issues with Ohio's medical marijuana program" (May 2022)

March 5, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, February 3, 2023

Americans for Safe Access releases "2022 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States"

SoS_2022_Spread_Graphic_(1024_×_768_px)My wonderful marijuana seminar is about to turn to a close examination of the laws, policies and practices around medical marijuana reforms, and I am incredible grateful that the folks at Americans for Safe Access (ASA) unveiled their latest comprehensive annual report on medical marijuana reform just in time for our collective review. This new 150+ page report, titled "2022 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States," provides both a national and state-by-state perspective on medical marijuana reforms.  This ASA press release about the report provides a bit of an overview:

The report evaluates the effectiveness of each state cannabis program from a patient perspective and assigns a grade using a rubric that reflects the key issues affecting patient access, broken down into more than 100 categories, including: barriers to access, civil protections, affordability, health and social equity, and product safety. The report also assigns penalties for harmful policies. ASA distributes the report to state legislators and regulators in every state, as well as hundreds of health and patient organization across the country.

Despite an increase in registered patient numbers and states with medical cannabis programs, the report highlights the fact that states are still falling short in creating programs that fulfill the needs of all patients-- the average grade among states was only 46.16% with Maryland earning the highest score of 75.71%. The report also highlights new issues facing patients including a decline in legislative improvements to state medical cannabis programs and the negative impacts recreational adult-use laws are having on medical cannabis access.

The report also offers solutions to improve state programs including legislative and regulatory language. Since the first edition in 2014, advocates and state legislators have utilized ASA’ report to pass new legislation and regulations to improve medical cannabis access. This year’s report offers policymakers a Medical Cannabis Equity Checklist with legislative improvements for states with recreational adult-use programs or those considering adopting such programs, to ensure patient access is not harmed.... ASA recognizes that state policymakers and regulators have been tasked with creating the infrastructure for a supply chain that remains illegal at the federal level and are now addressing a new health concern of the seemingly federally legal, unregulated cannabinoid market. In 2022 alone, 99 pieces of legislation were introduced regarding the unregulated cannabinoid market. The State of the States report calls on state legislatures to join patient advocates in calling on Congress to pass comprehensive federal legislation, and offers steps to do so in the “State's Government's Role in Ending Federal Prohibition” section.

February 3, 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 (1)

Friday, January 13, 2023

"Building Solidarity in Support of Immigrants’ Rights in the Evolving Marijuana Legislative Landscape"

As I have mentioned before, after a very busy Fall semester, I am catching up on the posting of some recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.   And now I have just started teaching a new semester of my marijuana seminar, it is especially enjoyable to be able to highlight some of the great work that was done by students in my last class.   The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Charlotte Kalfas who was in my marijuaan seminar last year and who now completing her 3L year at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is the abstract of her paper: 

This paper attempts to raise the profile of and build solidarity among disparate groups on the issue of considering how immigration law should be amended or enforced in the wake of the move towards legalization, whether on a state-by-state or federal level.  It goes into detail on perspectives and policy rationales for amending the INA to remove marijuana from disparate political perspectives -- those who are already committed to immigrants' rights, those who are already committed to marijuana legalization, and those who are less amenable to either.

For the first group, it's fairly self-explanatory: marijuana use is a deportable offense for immigrants whether or not it is legal, which makes little sense in the era of marijuana reform.  For legalization supporters, I focus on economic developments and social justice.  Allowing immigrants into the group of people who could purchase and use marijuana would both bring more revenue into the market and create a new group of folks who could work in both agricultural and retail ends of the business.  Further, given the divisive history of the connections between marijuana criminalization and immigration, noncitizens should be a key consideration in legalization legislation and regulation just as social equity programs are now for women and other minoritized people. Finally, for those who aren't familiar or amiable to either perspective, the paper dives into arguments about justice and fairness from a legal perspective, and the assertion that supporting minoritized individuals such as immigrants and people of color is beneficial for all members of the U.S.

January 13, 2023 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Race, Gender and Class Issues | 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)