Friday, January 26, 2024

DEPC event: "Implementing Issue 2: Criminal Justice Reform After Marijuana Legalization"

A7f44381-b00d-4d72-96b5-890ae7490964The title of this post is provides the title of this online event being hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC)  next week.  Here is how this panel discussion, which I am honored to moderate and takes place on January 31, 2024 from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. ET, is described on this page (where you can register):

Criminal justice reform has been a component of marijuana reform in most states, and Ohio’s newly enacted Issue 2 includes a directive and resources for efforts to “study and fund judicial and criminal justice reform including bail, parole, sentencing reform, expungement and sealing of records, legal aid, and community policing related to marijuana.” In the wake of Issue 2’s passage, criminal justice reform advocates are renewing calls to address harms caused by the past criminalization of a substance that is no longer illegal. The nature and scope of past harms are not always clearly defined nor easily remedied, though efforts to eliminate direct or collateral consequences from past cannabis offenses are often a focal point for action.

Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts as they discuss how Ohio should approach criminal justice reform after marijuana legalization, what Ohio can learn from other states’ experiences, and the unique political and practical challenges Ohio may face.

Panelists:
Ohio Representative Juanita Brent, District 22
Adrian Rocha, Policy Manager, Last Prisoner Project 
Daniel Dew, Policy Director, The Adams Project
Louis Tobin, Executive Director, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

January 26, 2024 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | 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)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

DEPC event: "Will of the Voters?: The Future of Adult-Use Marijuana in Ohio"

C0225049-6f1a-4f06-b835-9d499dad5ca1I am pleased to spotlight another great Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) event taking place next month titled "Will of the Voters?: The Future of Adult-Use Marijuana in Ohio."  Here is how this online event, which is on October 23, 2023 from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. EDT, is described on this page (where you can register):

To date, 23 states have legalized adult-use cannabis for recreational purposes.  In November of this year, Ohioans will have a chance to voice their views on whether the Buckeye state should follow in their footsteps. While the Ohio initiative is similar in many ways to other states’ reforms to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use, Ohio’s cannabis reform history and the particular details of the ballot proposal’s approach to legalization give a unique Buckeye character to this effort. Also, as initiated legislation (rather than as a proposed constitutional amendment) the Ohio General Assembly will be able to modify any parts of the initiative if it passes.

Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for a panel discussion featuring experts as well as former and current legislators.  The event will explore this initiative’s structure, and its expected implementation, and how this initiative could impact the state’s existing medical marijuana market.  It will also delve into the chances of passage given the off-cycle election year and other political dynamics related to how the Ohio General Assembly might respond to the outcome of the election.

Panelists:

State Representative Josh Williams, Ohio District 41

John Carney, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP

Jason Ortiz, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Last Prisoner Project

Moderator:

Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law; Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

September 21, 2023 in Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

Monday, July 17, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 8, 2023

"Nondemocratic Efforts Suppressing Voter-Backed Cannabis Legalization"

I am excited to continue to be able to post the latest papers from the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  In so doing, it is such a pleasure to get to review and highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates on so many important and cutting-edge topics.  The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Mac Patrick who is a student at  The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Here is its abstract:

Cannabis legalization continues to be placed on the ballot.  One way in which the legislation is passed is through voter initiatives and public referendums, whereby voters can use their voices to directly enact popular legislation. Yet, those voices have been silenced by the use of political manipulation to keep cannabis off the ballot or to invalidate laws once passed.  This type of political manipulation has been utilized since cannabis legislation was first introduced and the consequences are long-standing.  This paper explores the history of direct democracy, which states have experienced this democratic crisis, how a reduction in popular democracy may further damage the state and federal governments’ relationships with its constituents, and what solutions may be possible.

July 8, 2023 in Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Marijuana legalization loses resoundingly in Oklahoma special election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 7, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 20, 2022

New CRS report (incompletely) reviews "Recent Developments in Marijuana Law" in Fall 2022

This notable new five-page Congressional Research Service report titled "Does the President Have the Power to Legalize Marijuana?". Here is how it gets started:

Marijuana and other products derived from the cannabis plant are regulated under both federal and state law.  In recent years, a significant divide has developed between federal and state regulation.  Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is strictly regulated and may not legally be used for medical or recreational purposes.  In contrast, a substantial majority of states have relaxed state law prohibitions on medical or recreational marijuana.

The fall of 2022 saw two key developments in federal and state marijuana regulation.  In October 2022, President Joe Biden granted clemency to certain low-level federal marijuana offenders and directed the Attorney General to review the status of marijuana under federal law.  While some observers consider President Biden’s grant of clemency to represent a significant change in federal marijuana policy, as a legal matter it did little to alter the growing disparity between federal and state marijuana regulation.  Then, in November 2022, voters in five states considered ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana at the state level, two of which were adopted.  Legislators and commentators have proposed a number of legal reforms that would alter federal marijuana regulation and potentially reduce the divergence between federal and state law.

This Legal Sidebar provides an overview of the legal status of marijuana under federal and state law, then discusses recent developments including the grant of clemency for federal marijuana possession offenses and November 2022 state ballot initiatives related to marijuana.   The Sidebar concludes with an overview of selected legislative proposals related to marijuana.

This CRS document is dated November 16, 2022, so it only makes a brief reference/link to the federal research bill that was passed by Congress on that very day, the "Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act." As of this writing (Nov 20, 2022), that bill is still awaiting the President's signature.

November 20, 2022 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Mixed results for marijuana reform ballot measures on Election Day 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.

Elsewhere, recreational legalization measures in Arkansas as well as in North Dakota and South Dakota were defeated.

November 9, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Rounding up helpful resources on another Election Day full of importance for marijuana reform

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:

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:

November 8, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2022

DEPC event: "Cannabis on the Ballot: Lessons Learned from the Marijuana Reform Movement"

I am pleased to spotlight a great Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) event taking place later this month focused on ballot initiatives as marijuana reform.  Here is how this event is described on this event page (where you can find this registration link):

Ever since California voters legalized medical marijuana via ballot initiative in 1996, many advocates in the U.S. have embraced direct democracy as a means to bypass reluctant legislatures to advance marijuana legalization and broader drug policy reforms.  But reforms advanced through ballot initiatives can raise distinct political and policy challenges, and recent initiatives have sometimes produced legal uncertainty about regulatory regimes and even new limits on the availability of direct democracy.

On the eve of another major election, please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts as they discuss the pros and cons of efforts to enact and implement drug policy reforms via the ballot box and these efforts’ impact on direct democracy more generally.

Panelists:

Burrel Vann Jr., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, School of Public Affairs, San Diego State University
Daniel Orenstein, Independent Researcher
Tamar Todd, Legal Director at New Approach PAC; Lecturer at Berkeley Law

Moderator:

Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law; Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

October 13, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Legalization ballot initiative sidelined by state Supreme Court in Oklahoma, while initiative cleared to go forward in neighboring Missouri

Kansas-missouri-oklahoma-arkansas-map-vector-23600096As students in my marijuana seminar know (too) well, I find the modern history of marijuana reform throughout the United States to be a fascinating legal and political story.  And sometimes I view some of the regional variations in these stories to be especially remarkable, and one such recent example comes from the center of our great nation.  Specifically, I am referencing here the notably different outcomes of legal challenges to state ballot legalization initiatives in neighboring Oklahoma and Missouri.  Though these states share a (small) border, they are not sharing the same outcomes in lawsuits challenging efforts to put marijuana legalization before votes, as reported in this Marijuana Moment articles:

"Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative Will Appear On November Ballot After State Supreme Court Rejects Prohibitionists’ Challenge"

An initiative to legalize marijuana in Missouri is officially cleared for ballot placement following a month-long legal back-and-forth between the campaign and prohibitionists.  A lawsuit filed last month sought to keep the Legal Missouri 2022 reform proposal off the ballot after it was certified by the secretary of state.  But after two lower courts dismissed the challenge, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered the final word that the legal battle is over.

"Oklahoma Supreme Court Says Marijuana Legalization Won’t Be On November Ballot, But Will Be Voted On In Future Election"

Oklahoma voters will not get the chance to vote on a marijuana legalization initiative in November, with the state Supreme Court on Wednesday rejecting the campaign’s lawsuit that sought to secure ballot placement this year.  However, justices also dismissed two separate legal challenges to the ballot title, clearing the initiative’s path for a vote during the state’s next general or special election.

Legal battles over initiatives are never unusual, and a range of legal tripwires can often attend efforts to bring ballot measures directly to voters on any topic.  But I surmise that these kinds of challenges to marijuana reform measure have found growing success, perhaps unsurprisingly, as initiative move from bluer to redder states. Judges and other legal actors in bluer states can often seem more welcoming of ballot initiatives in this arena (and we have seen politicians in Maryland and New Jersey place marijuana reform initiatives on the ballot), whereas these actors in redder states sometime seem far more keen to keep voters from having a chance to directly weigh in on these issues.

September 22, 2022 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 (0)

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Reviewing just some of the dynamic marijuana reform stories from the states

The stories of marijuana reform in the United States are still mostly dynamic state stories, and here is just a handful of state stories from big states making headlines in just the last few days:

From California, "The casualties of California legalizing pot: Growers who went legal"

From Florida, "Florida Gov. DeSantis wants pot companies to pay more"

From Michigan, "Marijuana growing moratorium?: Supply and demand could lead to changes in Michigan"

From New York, "New Yorkers with pot convictions will now be the first to get to sell it"

From Virginia, "Inside the ‘wild, wild west’ of Virginia’s marijuana market"

And, of course, there are at least a half-dozen additional states with marijuana reform initiatives on the ballot this fall.  This Hill article provides an overview of these state stories under this full headline: "Voters in these states may soon decide whether to legalize marijuana: Six states could have ballot measures up for vote in the November midterm elections, and should they pass, will join 19 others in legalizing recreational marijuana."

August 28, 2022 in Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (12)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

"Why Now? Medicine, Media, and Mysticism in Past and Present American Thought on Psychedelic Drugs"

With the Spring semester coming to a close, this space will no longer be needed to highlight all the research topics and presentation plans of students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar.  And so, I can now return to, and catch up on, posting a lot of recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  To that end, the title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Aaron Roberts, a third-year student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

The public perception of psychedelic substances has become considerably more favorable in recent years.  This shift can be seen in decriminalization measures passed in several U.S. cities as well as Oregon’s commitment to establish a state-licensed psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy program.  These dramatic developments beg the question: Why now? Three particular aspects of psychedelic drugs have shaped the public response to them in the modern era: the established medical potential of psychedelics, the shift in media treatment of these substances, and their “entheogenic,” or spirituality-inducing, properties.  This paper examines these three factors historically.  Additionally, this paper relates ayahuasca specifically to each of the three areas. Ayahuasca is a useful case study due to its intense psychoactive effects, its onetime popularization, and its longer history of ritualistic, shamanic use. 

April 27, 2022 in Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Religion | Permalink | Comments (10)

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Initiative effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio advances to legislative consideration, on track for Nov 2022 vote if Ohio General Assembly does not act

Ohio-marijuana-1280x720As reported in this local article, headlined "Recreational marijuana proposal clears another hurdle, heads to Ohio legislature before November ballot," an interesting reform effort in the Buckeye State is now one step closer to getting recreational marijuana on Ohio ballot this year.  Here are the details:

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told state legislative leaders in a Friday letter that a proposed initiated statute that would legalize recreational marijuana obtained enough signatures to get on the November ballot, and now the General Assembly has four months to consider passing the measure. State law requires at least 132,887 valid signatures to get on the ballot, which the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol obtained. County boards of election recently finished verifying the signatures, and LaRose sent the letter to lawmakers.

But before the proposal makes the Nov. 8 ballot, the General Assembly gets to take a stab at passing the measure or passing it in an amended form. According to the Ohio Constitution, if lawmakers fail to pass a proposal, the coalition can circulate more petitions, demanding it appears on the ballot in the next general election.

The coalition, made up of businesses in Ohio’s medical marijuana industry, prefers the legislature to pass a law expanding the program to Ohioans age 21 and older. However, it also said that it has polling showing that marijuana is no longer a partisan issue in Ohio, and it believes the initiated statute would pass at the polls. “We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio,” coalition spokesman Tom Haren said in a statement. “We are also fully prepared to collect additional signatures and take this issue directly to voters on November 8, 2022, if legislators fail to act.”

Under the proposal, adults would be allowed to purchase, possess and grow marijuana at home. Existing Ohio medical marijuana dispensaries could expand their businesses to sell to adults 21 and older, and new marijuana businesses could be added to accommodate recreational demand. Marijuana purchasers would be taxed 10% at the point of sale for each transaction. The coalition estimates recreational marijuana revenues could generate $400 million a year in new revenue.

Sensing the pressure from the Just Like Alcohol proposal, the legislature has advanced several marijuana bills lately. But none of them have moved across the finish line. On Tuesday, the Ohio House Health Committee advanced a bill to legalize marijuana for people on the autism spectrum. On Dec. 16, the Ohio Senate sent to the House a bill that would legalize marijuana to any patient whose symptoms ‘may reasonably be expected to be relieved by the drug. Democratic and Republican lawmakers also introduced bills that would legalize recreational marijuana.

Those of us working at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, which is based at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, have been closely following this initiative and all the other marijuana reform proposals being actively discussed in the Buckeye State.  DEPC has created a set of materials to aid in understanding the Ohio initiative process as well as the substantive particulars of different legislative reform proposals.  These Ohio materials are collected here under the heading "A Comparison of Marijuana Reform Proposals in Ohio." 

A few prior recent related posts:

January 29, 2022 in Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 3, 2022

"Cannabis decriminalization and racial disparity in arrests for cannabis possession"

The title of this post is the title of this encouraging new research in the January 2022 issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.  This piece is authored by Christian Gunadi and Yuyan Shi, and here is its abstract:

Rationale

Minorities often bear the brunt of unequal enforcement of drug laws. In the U.S., Blacks have been disproportionately more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than Whites despite a similar rate of cannabis use. Decriminalizing cannabis has been argued as a way to reduce racial disparity in cannabis possession arrests. To date, however, the empirical evidence to support this argument is almost non-existent.

Objectives

To examine whether cannabis decriminalization was associated with reduced racial disparity in arrests for cannabis possession between Blacks and Whites in the U.S.

Methods

Using FBI Uniform Crime Report data from 37 U.S. states, cannabis possession arrest rates were calculated separately for Blacks and Whites from 2000 to 2019.  A difference-in-differences framework was used to estimate the association between cannabis decriminalization and racial disparity in cannabis possession arrest rates (Blacks/Whites ratio) among adults and youths.

Results

Cannabis possession arrest rates declined over 70% among adults and over 40% among youths after the implementation of cannabis decriminalization in 11 states. Among adults, decriminalization was associated with a roughly 17% decrease in racial disparity in arrest rates between Blacks and Whites.  Among youths, arrest rates declined among both Blacks and Whites but there was no evidence for a change in racial disparity between Blacks and Whites following decriminalization.

Conclusions

Cannabis decriminalization was associated with substantially lower cannabis possession arrest rates among both adults and youths and among both Blacks and Whites.  It reduced racial disparity between Blacks and Whites among adults but not youths.  These findings suggested that cannabis decriminalization had its intended consequence of reducing arrests and may have potential to reduce racial disparity in arrests at least among adults.

January 3, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 20, 2021

Initiated statute effort to legalize marijuana in Ohio advances with submission of signatures to prompt legislative consideration

Ballot Initiative Process Diagram_final_16Dec202_webAs reported in this local article, headlined "The Just Like Alcohol campaign submits signatures to state, one step closer to getting recreational marijuana on Ohio ballot next year," a notable effort to advance marijuana reform in the Buckeye State advanced a bit today.  Here are the basic details:

A group of Ohio medical marijuana businesses with a proposal placing recreational cannabis on the ballot said they submitted 206,943 signatures to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office Monday.  The submission of signatures is just the latest step in the winding process to get the issue on the November 2022 ballot....

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign needed 132,887 signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties by Dec. 27.  The campaign’s spokesman, Cleveland attorney Tom Haren, said campaign workers also verified signatures as they came in.  “The success of our petition drive shows just how eager Ohioans are to end prohibition and legalize the adult use of marijuana,” Haren said. “We look forward to receiving the results of the Secretary of State’s review, and are eager to begin working with legislators on this important issue.”

If county election officials verify the signatures, the proposal will go before the Ohio General Assembly, which gets to first stab at creating a law based on it.  If the legislature fails, the proposal will go on the ballot as an initiated statute.  Haren said the campaign would prefer if the legislature passed a law.

Under the proposed law, Ohioans ages 21 and older could buy and use marijuana.  They could grow up to six plants per person and 12 plants per residence.  It would create a Division of Cannabis Control under the Ohio Department of Commerce to license, regulate, investigate and penalize adult-use cannabis operators, testing laboratories and individuals who would be required to be licensed.

Existing Ohio medical marijuana growers could expand their cultivation areas once they receive an adult-use cultivator license, the proposal says.  Nine months after the proposed law goes into effect, the state would have to issue recreational licenses for existing medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, processors and testing laboratories if they complied with other provisions of the proposed law....

People who buy recreational marijuana would be taxed 10% at the dispensaries, and have to pay any other state and local sales taxes at the time of the purchase.  Of that, 36% of tax revenues would go to communities with recreational dispensaries; 36% to a social equity and jobs fund that would seek to “redress past and present effects of discrimination and economic disadvantage” for communities that have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition, such as the more severe criminal penalties for Black men in comparison to white men possessing the same levels of marijuana; 25% to substance abuse and addiction efforts; 3% to the Division of Cannabis Control to support the costs of regulation....

To head off the initiated statute, the legislature is considering a few bills to broaden marijuana access.  Last week, the Ohio Senate passed and sent to the House a bill that would expand medical marijuana to anyone with a condition that would “reasonably be expected to be relieved” by the drug. It would increase cultivation areas and changes the medical marijuana regulation scheme, which currently is divided among three state agencies, to one under the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Those of us working at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, which is based at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, have been closely following this initiative and all the other marijuana reform proposals being actively discussed in the Buckeye State.  DEPC has created a set of materials to aid in understanding the Ohio initiative process as well as the substantive particulars of different legislative reform proposals.  These Ohio materials are collected here under the heading "A Comparison of Marijuana Reform Proposals in Ohio."  That page includes this link to the original graphic appearing above that we have created to follow the Ohio initiative process, and here is just a sampling of some of the original Ohio materials to be found at the page:

December 20, 2021 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

"An Overview of Decriminalization Efforts in Regard to Psychedelic Plants in the United States, 2019-2020"

The title of this post is the title of this paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Aaron Roberts, a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  (This paper is yet another in the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)   Here is this paper's abstract:  

This paper examines the recent developments made in psychedelic-related drug policy in the United States.  The paper gives an overview of the decriminalization efforts made at the state and local levels.  The paper also looks at the historical, cultural, political, and public health factors that have shaped psychedelic policy throughout American history and into the current day.  Lastly, the paper shares some concerns about discrimination and unequal access present in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

November 23, 2021 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Medical community perspectives | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Oregon Narcotics Decriminalization: Example or Outcast?"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Blake Gerstner, a recent graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  (This paper is yet another in the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)   Here is this latest paper's abstract:  

In November 2020, the people of the State of Oregon spoke loudly and clearly by passing Ballot Measure 110, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of narcotics across the board, from cocaine to heroin to methamphetamine.  As a state with a recent, large increase in overdose deaths, Oregon now stands at the forefront of the U.S. decriminalization effort, setting an example for, or becoming an outcast among, its sister states. While only time will tell the long-term implications of this pioneering initiative, such legislation has long been sought by doctors, care specialists, and legal professionals across the United States as a compassion-driven step toward reversing the consequences of a lost war on drugs.  By focusing on ending the cycle of addiction among narcotic users, rather than penalizing and ostracizing those trapped in said cycle, its supporters have high hopes for greatly reducing drug addiction and overdose deaths, ending the mass incarceration of narcotics-addicted individuals, and terminating the illicit drug trade by refocusing attention on those who perpetuate the narcotics black market. From the criminal justice system, to mental health and addiction support, and to broader sociological and political understandings, the effects of Oregon’s initiative will almost certainly be vast and far-reaching, likely changing forever how the U.S. government, its institutions, and its citizens view drug use and addiction.

We can begin to grasp the amplitude of Ballot Measure 110 by looking to Oregon’s specific drug problems and how the measure could solve them.  The purpose of this article is to provide a bird’s-eye view of Oregon’s new model by exploring two interrelated topics.  First, I provide an in-depth explanation of the Measure’s intent and purpose, analyzing its language, original objective, and subsequent developments to comprehend exactly what Oregonians voted for and what can be expected.  Second, I offer a brief presentation of one Oregon-specific problem, methamphetamine addiction, and how the initiative could change meth use, enforcement, and criminalization.  In doing so, I hope to expound upon potential future implications of the Oregon measure as a whole, with the hope of imparting some idea of decriminalization’s future in the Beaver State.

November 23, 2021 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states | Permalink | Comments (0)