Thursday, May 16, 2024

Biden Administration moves federal marijuana rescheduling forward to start public comment period

ImagesAs reported in this Washington Post piece, "President Biden on Thursday publicly endorsed the Justice Department’s recommendation to loosen restrictions on marijuana, a long-expected measure that marks a historic shift in the nation’s drug policy." Here is more on an important next step in the rescheduling process:

The Justice Department, after receiving the go-ahead from the White House, published an official notice, opening a two-month period for the public to comment on the proposed change. The rule reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III controlled substance would not go into effect until afterward.

Marijuana would not be legalized federally, but would move out of the Schedule I category reserved for tightly controlled substances such as heroin and LSD. If the rule goes into effect, marijuana will join a category including prescription drugs such as ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone....

The move comes a little more than two weeks after Attorney General Merrick Garland recommended to the White House that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule III substance. The recommendation was applauded by cannabis supporters who for decades have complained that the federal government exaggerated the dangers of the drug.

Marijuana’s Schedule I status means it is tightly controlled because the federal government sees no proven medical value and a high potential for abuse. Stripping that designation would provide researchers easier access to cannabis and allow marijuana companies to deduct business expenses from their tax bills — a boon for an industry that has struggled because of high operating costs and competition from the illicit market. “Our ultimate goal is federal legalization, and we see Schedule III as a necessary and critical step along the way,” Edward Conklin, executive director of industry group U.S. Cannabis Council, said in a statement....

Some cannabis advocates say reclassification is an incremental step that doesn’t address the fundamental disconnect between the federal criminalization of the drug and the reality that a majority of Americans live in states where they can legally buy it. The implications of rescheduling for existing legal state markets are especially murky because marijuana has not been treated as a federally regulated medicinal product sold at pharmacies.

Meanwhile, cannabis critics fault the Biden administration for normalizing a drug that can still be harmful to individual and public health. Reclassification of marijuana — which is opposed by some former federal law enforcement officials, some Republicans in Congress and the anti-cannabis group Smart Approaches to Marijuana — could be delayed again by legal and regulatory challenges.

In announcing this move, the Justice Department released its formal federal register rule which will  start a 60-day comment period, as well as this 36-page document from the  Office of Legal Counsel detailing legal arguments surrounding rescheduling issues.

May 16, 2024 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Student presentation examines impact of taxation schemes on medical marijuana

Images (6)As we come down the homestretch in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar, students continue to cover terrific issues in their research and class presentations.  This week in my class, the third scheduled presentation has been given this title: "Getting Too Into the Weeds?: An Analysis of the Impact of Different Taxation Schemes on Medical Marijuana Programs and the Potential Impacts of H.B. 86 in Ohio."    Here is how the student describes her topic (along with background readings):

Medical marijuana programs are at risk of ceasing to exist to any meaningful extent in many states that have legalized recreational marijuana.  There has been a consistent trend of declining registered medical marijuana patient numbers in those states post-legalization.  While there are potentially many causes of this decline, there is one policy decision each of these states has had to make that could have a large impact on the magnitude of this decline: taxation structure.  There are three common taxation structures selected by these states: sales tax, tax exemptions, and excise tax.  All three structures are supported by reasonable policy rationales.

At the end of 2023, Ohio joined the group of states that have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use via an initiated statute.  The Ohio Legislature, in turn, has been left with the obligation to make any changes it deems necessary to Ohio’s recreational program before it becomes fully effective.  One of the proposals that is most likely to pass is House Bill 86 (H.B. 86).  Under H.B. 86, the excise tax on recreational marijuana would increase from ten percent to fifteen percent.  This may not seem like it will impact patient registration rates in Ohio, however, the language of H.B. 86 may open the door to application of this excise tax to medical marijuana sales in Ohio if it is passed as written.

To attempt to predict what will occur to Ohio’s medical marijuana program post-legalization of recreational marijuana under the ambiguous language of H.B. 86, this paper aims to determine if there is any correlation between the type of taxation scheme a state has for medical marijuana and the likelihood of its medical marijuana program surviving.

Background Materials:

Ohio House Bill 86 (specifically Section § 5739.27(A)).

Jenn Jarecki, Bob Kinzel, & Nathaniel Wilson, "Vermont Lawmakers Consider Changing Medical Cannabis Program, Retail Potency Limits"

Carol Kokinis-Graves, "State by State Sales Tax on Cannabis"

Kevin F. Boehnke, Owen Dean, Rebecca Haffajee, & Avinash Hosanagar, "U.S. Trends in Registration for Medical Cannabis and Reasons for Use from 2016-2020: an Observational Study"

April 7, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2024

Student presentation: "Chronic pain management: Exploring the relationship between marijuana, and opioid use"

Download (1)As I have mentioned before, I am always pleased when students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar focus for their research and class presentations on medical marijuana topics. It is certainly understandable, but still problematic, that medical-related issues get now seemingly a lot less attention that adult-use issues. But this week in my class, the fourth scheduled presentation will be on cannabis and pain management.  Here is her description of the topic (along with background readings):

While marijuana use for its’ medicinal properties is nowhere near a new piece of conversation, there are several areas of this topic that are under-researched.  In the U.S. 51.6 million adults suffer from chronic pain.  Many of these adults are prescribed opioids to lessen the pain.  Lessening the pain by no means actually eliminates the pain, and that is where marijuana comes into play.

The relationship between marijuana, and opioid use can be quite complex, especially considering the U.S.’s history, and present issues with misuse of opioids.  Understanding how these two drugs interact together is pertinent to helping people who suffer from chronic pain.  Generally, studies have found that using marijuana has lessened patient dependency with opioids when used as a pain management tool.

However, being able to use marijuana as a gap filler or pain management tool is not so easily done.  Recreational, and medicinal legalization in a state does not guarantee that a person will be able to access this type of approach.  State laws play a big role in this issue.  My paper aims to explore why people on opioids are turning to marijuana to supplement their pain management, the results of such, risks associated, which demographics are affected at disparate rates, as well as the various laws, and regulations that hinder the ability to safely use marijuana as a pain management tool.

Related Links: 

For information on relevant state laws pertaining to doctors in this space: "Conscience’ Bills Let Medical Providers Opt Out of Providing a Wide Range of Care."

For information on results of using marijuana as a pain management tool while on opioids: "Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report."

April 1, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Student presentation examines "cannabis’ new home in the wellness industry"

Marijuana_Wellness_Products _Portland _Oregon_(2014)_-_2I am always excited by the wide range of diverse topics that students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar focus upon for their research and class presentations. And, these days, when it seems many folks have moved beyond having any interest in (always interesting) medical marijuana topics, I get excited that students remeain eager to keep exploting modern medical-related issues.  The third presentation slated for this week is in this space, and my student has titled her presentation as "Modern Medical Marijuana: Cannabis’ New Home in the Wellness Industry." Here is her description (along with background readings):

Many medical professionals and patients alike have long considered Cannabis to be medicinal; it has been used in a multitude of medical capacities – from alleviating side-effects of cancer treatment to helping manage chronic pain.  While medical marijuana schemes were the predominant way of consuming cannabis legally in the United States, there is a paradigm shift now that legal adult-use recreational cannabis is growing in popularity. How does the medical marijuana industry evolve from here?  The answer may lie in the increasingly powerful and popular wellness industry.

 

In 2022, the global wellness industry amounted to $5.6 trillion dollars.  Notably, Public Health, Prevention, & Personalized Medicine amounted to $611 billion and Traditional & Commentary Medicine rang in at $519 billion. Cannabis consumption has become an increasingly prevalent tool in the wellness space, especially for helping to calm the nervous system and serve as an alternative to alcohol consumption – “California Sober” is a trendy new “healthy” way to indulge, and THC infused drinks for “relaxing” are booming in production.  However, some research suggests that substituting alcohol with marijuana is just an exchange of toxic effects.  So where does this leave “medical” marijuana in 2024; should we consider Cannabis to be a medicinal pain-management and disease-curing tool?  Or is it a healthier vice with some tangible wellness benefits?  This paper evaluates the medicinal properties of marijuana, its current place in the wellness system and marketability as a “healthy” indulgence, the wellness benefits of Cannabis, as well as some concerns in viewing the substance as part of this new wellness push.

Suggested Reading:

March 24, 2024 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | 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)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

"What's Baked Within WADA’s 'Spirit of Sport' Criterion? Unpacking the Framework that Keeps Cannabis on the Prohibited Substance List"

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 new paper authored by Lily Dickson, who is in her final year as a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Here is its abstract:

The world is struggling to conceptualize a standard approach to cannabis policy.  Some states ban cannabis entirely, some states allow it for medical use, others fully legalize it.  At the same time, more and more athletes are coming forward about their experience with cannabis and its benefits.  WADA is the primary international source of power over both drug regulation and athletic federations.  Thus, WADA has the unique potential to develop a standardized approach to cannabis that can be applied consistently across all sports and countries. Despite WADA’s potential to use the “universal language” of sports for change, cannabis policy in sports is currently stagnant due to WADA’s presence in the conversation.  One obstacle to meaningful dialogue between athletic federations regarding cannabis use in sport first lies with WADA’s framework.  For a substance or method to be added to WADA’s Prohibited Substance List, it must meet at least two of the following three criteria: (1) it has the potential to enhance sports performance, (2) it represents an actual or potential health risk to athletes, or (3) it violates the Spirit of Sport.  Currently, the Spirit of Sport criterion is invoked as a catch-all. As opposed to the first two criteria, “the spirit of sport” it is inherently subjective.  As a result, it can have a significant impact on the way that anti-doping policies related to cannabis use are developed and enforced.  This paper suggests that WADA would be better equipped to approach the cannabis problem after (1) procedural change within WADA’s leadership structure to allow consideration of the changing legal and social context of cannabis use and (2) philosophical change to the principles underlying the Spirit of Sport criterion with the procedural changes in place.

October 19, 2023 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

"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)

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

"Teaching Drugs: Incorporating Drug Policy into Law School Curriculum, 2022–2023 Cannabis Curriculum Survey Update"

The title of this post is the title of this latest effort by researchers at Ohio State's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center to keep track of the number of law schools teaching marijuana-related classes.  Specifically, Jonathan Abele and Jana Hrdinova have put together this latest interesting accounting, and here its the work's abstract:

The landscape of cannabis prohibition has changed dramatically in the last decade.  These shifting attitudes towards cannabis are reflected in the continued wave of states legalizing cannabis for medical or adult-use and in President Biden’s call for a review of cannabis’s classification as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.  These new regimes present a complex legal environment for businesses and legal professionals given the individualized character of each state’s program and long-standing federal prohibition.

Yet, only a relatively small number of law schools appear to have addressed this challenging and ever-shifting legal area by offering courses on cannabis law and policy.  This report is the result of the fifth annual survey of law school curriculum focusing on courses on cannabis law offered by accredited law schools in the United States.  The survey shows a slow but steady increase in the number of law schools offering courses on cannabis law, including law schools located in states that have legalized adult-use cannabis.

July 25, 2023 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Student presentation explores medical marijuana programs across US

Istockphoto-509251255-170667aI can hardly believe we have already reached the final week of student presentations in my Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform class. But, happily, this final week will bring a large number of presentations, and the first one slated for this final week is on medical marijuana programs around the nation. Here is how the topic is described by my student (along with background readings):

The medical marijuana space can be confusing and complex for patients, physicians, attorneys, and lawmakers due to the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana.  Every state has discretion in creating its own medical marijuana program, each one subject to the rules and regulations of state lawmakers.  Although thirty-eight states have legalized marijuana for medical use, it currently remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act.  The discrepancy between the use of marijuana for medical purposes and its classification as a Schedule I substance, in conjunction with its federal illegality, affects the medical marijuana industry greatly.  Differing state-level medical marijuana programs create numerous barriers for patients including whether they qualify for a medical card, where they can access their treatment, and the cost and method in which they can use their medicine.  The federal illegality of cannabis also creates the issue of possible criminal prosecution for both patients and doctors in the United States.  Additionally, marijuana’s Schedule I status has created several obstacles for researchers and doctors to further their study on the efficacy and potential benefits of cannabis. 

Each of these problems only scrapes the surface of the difficulties patients and other players in the medical marijuana industry face due to the illegal status of cannabis and the disparities in medical marijuana programs.  Mitigating these differences and creating more uniform state medical marijuana laws will help create an affordable, accessible, and safer medical marijuana program for all patients, but as with every area in the marijuana space, the federal illegality and Schedule I status of marijuana remains a barrier to improving the cannabis industry.

Relevant background:

GreenHealthDocs, "Can I Use My Medical Marijuana in Another State?"

Jennie Ryan et al., "Medicinal Cannabis: Policy, Patients, and Providers"

Leafly, "Cannabis testing regulations: A state-by-state guide"

Americans for Safe Access, "State Medical Cannabis Laws Graded by Patient Advocates in New Report"

April 16, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Student presentation exploring legality of gun possession and marijuana use

Medical-Marijuana-in-Miami-Miami-Criminal-Attorney-GunStudents in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar often focus on cutting-edge issues in their class presentations on the research topics of their choice.  The second presentation slated for this week could not possibly be more cutting edge, as my student will be discussing gun possession and marijuana use.  Here is how she has described her topic along with background readings she has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):

                Although individual states have not necessarily legislated that possessing a gun is unlawful for state compliant marijuana users, cannabis’s federal illegality seems to produce this result.  The process for obtaining a gun – regardless of what state the individual resides in – requires the individual to fill out the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ Form 4473. Form 4473 question 21g states:

"Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?  Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreation purposes in the state where you reside."

                Consequently, individuals that are fully in compliance with the marijuana laws in their home state are being stripped of their Second Amendment right, regardless of if the plant is being used for medicinal or adult use purposes.  Therefore, marijuana users who wish to possess a gun have three options: stop using marijuana entirely, stop using state compliant marijuana and instead obtain it from an illicit source, or lie.  Although ATF agents and prosecutors report that due to limited resources, they are not inclined to prioritize the nonviolent crime of lying on a form over more serious charges, lying on the form and obtaining a gun while being a marijuana user remains a federal felony offense. 

                In the wake of the 2022 Bruen holding, litigation on this matter seems to (so far) sway in favor of gun rights activists.  But there remain many unanswered questions in this area.  The implications of either a legitimization of state-legal marijuana use on the federal level (while the plant remains on Schedule I), or of an acknowledgement that the gun control/background check process can be changed, could be massive.

Links to Background Reading:

From the Washington Post, "Lying to ATF on gun-purchase form yields few prosecutions, data shows"

From the US Attorney's Office in the Western District of Oklahoma, "Federal Prosecutors Aggressively Pursuing Those Who Lie in Connection With Firearm Transactions"

From the Reason Foundation, "Medical Marijuana Patients Are Being Denied Gun Rights"

From US Congressman Alex Mooney, "There Are Two Sides Of The Fence, Use Marijuana And Give Up Gun Ownership Or Give Up Marijuana And Be A Gun Owner."

From CNN, "Gun form liars may go on to commit gun crimes, internal ATF research suggests"

March 27, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

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, March 3, 2023

Student presentation exploring "Medical Marijuana and the Mental Health Crisis"

Download (3)When students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar "take over" the second half of my class by giving presentations, they always cover a diverse array of cutting-edge topics.   So, this very first week of  presentations, a look at tax issues will be followed by a presentations focused on "Medical Marijuana and the Mental Health Crisis."   Here is how my student has described her topic along with background readings she has provided:

The mental health crisis in the United States is growing.  The stigmas surrounding mental health, as well as the barriers surrounding treatment, lead many individuals to self-soothe.  Drug use may be one method of choice. Medical marijuana could be an effective form of treatment, particularly for anxiety and panic disorders, but the lack of research and education about its efficacy and use make it an unrealistic option for many.

Though medical marijuana is growing in popularity as an alternative treatment method, it remains taboo throughout the world of practicing physicians.  Medical marijuana is not prescribed by a doctor – though it can be recommended (see Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir. 2002)) – and medical education does not present marijuana as a viable treatment option.  These limitations pose significant obstacles to both research and effective use, perpetuating a growing crisis with a limited number of answers.  This presentation will discuss the role of medical marijuana in treating mental illness, focusing on the systematic barriers that leave prescribers without authority and patients without aid.

Suggested Reading:

National Alliance on Mental Illness, "Mental Health By the Numbers"

Susan A. Stoner, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, "Effects of Marijuana on Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders"

Anastasia Evanoff et. al, "Physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana," 180 Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 151 (Nov. 2017).

March 3, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Some notable news and notes about medical marijuana programs

As students in my marijuana reform seminar know, I think medical marijuana programs do not get nearly as much attention and study as they should.  Consequently, I was pleased to see a lengthy new Politico piece on persistent medical marijuana challenges.  That got me to thinking it was a good time to do a round-up on the medical marijuana news front:

From Politico, "Dodgy science, poor access and high prices: The parallel medical world of medicinal marijuana in America"

From Marijuana Moment, "Florida’s Medical Marijuana Patient Count Grew 71 Percent In The Past Two Years"

From MJBizDaily, "Utah medical marijuana sales up nearly 60% to $118.7M in 2022"

From Missouri Independent, "Missouri appeals court orders state to issue medical marijuana growing license"

From WLKY in Kentucky, "Republican candidate for Kentucky governor announces support for medical marijuana"

From WLOX in Mississippi, "Five medical marijuana dispensaries given green light to open in Gulfport"

From WRAL in North Carolina, "Medical marijuana legalization bill passes NC Senate in bipartisan vote"

From WTEN in New York, "Medical marijuana being denied to some probationers"

From Dakota News Now in South Dakota, "House committee passes bill clarifying medical marijuana ailments"

February 28, 2023 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

Saturday, December 31, 2022

NORML’s accounting "Top Ten" marijuana policy events in 2022

Aamcnews-top-stories-of-2022-resizedThe NORML folks have this effective and helpful new posting, titled "2022 Year In Review: Norml’s Top Ten Events In Marijuana Policy," which provides a useful review of 2022 reform highlights. I recommend the full post, for more of the details, but here are the headline "Top 10" items:

#10: Mississippi Becomes 37th State To Legalize Medical Cannabis Access

#9: Survey: Over 90% Of Pain Patients Report Reducing Their Opioid Intake Following Medical Cannabis

#8: Analysis: State-Legal Marijuana Industry Employs Over 428,000 Full-Time Workers

#7: Potus Signs Law Facilitating Clinical Cannabis Trials And Drug Development

#6: FBI Fails To Provide Comprehensive Marijuana Arrest Figures For The First Time

#5: Historic Percentages Of Americans Say Cannabis Should Be Legalized

#4: More Lawmakers Enact Workplace Protections For Cannabis Consumers

#3: Senate Fails To Move Safe Banking Act

#2: Tens Of Thousands Of Americans Receive Marijuana-Specific Pardons And Expungements

#1: Three More States Enact Adult-Use Legalization Laws

December 31, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 9, 2022

"Solving a Drug Epidemic with More Drugs: A Discussion on the Expansion of Medical Marijuana in Ohio and its Impact on the Opioid Crisis"

As I have recently mentioned, during a very busy semester, I have fallen a bit behind posting some recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  As I try to catch up in the days ahead, as I continue to relish the he chance to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates.  The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Brianna Sweeney who is in the midst of her 3L year at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract of this paper: 

Ohio has suffered greatly at the hands of the opioid epidemic, but a new form of treatment could be on the rise for those who struggle with opioid use disorder (OUD).  As Ohio Senate Bill 261 has proposed “opioid use disorder” as a new qualifying condition for the recommendation of medical marijuana, the possibility emerges of medical marijuana’s positive impact on the opioid crisis.  This paper will explore the relationship between medical marijuana and the opioid epidemic, including the policy debate of medical marijuana’s advantages and disadvantages, particularly in comparison to prescribing opioids, and its ability to assist in opioid use disorder treatment.  Next, it will turn to the research on how medical marijuana laws have potentially affected opioid related death rates across the country.  Narrowing in on the pertinent issue, the research discussion will also cover how medical marijuana impacts OUD and OUD treatment.  Finally, the paper discusses the lack of conclusive research available, the need for further research, and a possible route for Ohio to take as this topic and the understanding of it evolves.  It is this paper’s hope that Ohio can provide another opportunity to prevent lives lost to opioids, contribute to the end of the epidemic, and promote future work and conversations on this topic.

December 9, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (10)

Monday, December 5, 2022

Cannabis lawyering makes the cover of the ABA Journal

12012223-COVER-750pxI was intrigued and pleased to see that the cover story of the latest issue (December/January 2022-2023) of the ABA Journal is all about cannabis lawyering.  This new piece is headlined "Lawyers are lighting up the budding cannabis industry: Justice Cannabis Co. is one of the biggest of the little guys in the rough-and-tumble, fast-paced and legally treacherous world of marijuana growing and selling."   

Becuase I do not see too many really good pieces broadly reviewing the state of cannabis lawyering, I was a little disappointed that the ABAJ article is almost entirely about the practice and experience of lawyers involved with Justice Cannabis.  Still, the ABAJ piece is an interesting read that covers a good bit of marijuana law along the way.  Here is an excerpt:

As of early February, 37 states, three territories and the District of Columbia permitted the medical use of cannabis products.  And as of November, 21 states, two territories and D.C. had approved cannabis for adult nonmedical use.

The cannabis industry generated $25 billion in revenues from legal sales in 2021 and employs more than 400,000 people nationwide.  It was expected to reach $32 billion in annual sales in 2022 and could exceed $50 billion by 2030.

It can be a lucrative and fascinating area of practice, according to attorneys such as William Bogot of Fox Rothschild, who left the Illinois Gaming Board to take on cannabis work.  It also can be frightening, says Lisa Dickinson of the Dickinson Law Firm in Spokane, Washington, who is chair of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section's Cannabis Law and Policy Committee. “It's still the wild, wild west,” she says.

The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the production, distribution, sale, use or possession of cannabis--which is classified alongside heroin and LSD as a Schedule I drug with a high likelihood of addiction and no safe dose.  The federal statute provides no exception for medical or other uses authorized or regulated by state law. The penalties for some offenses are severe.  The rapid bifurcation of state and federal law has woven deep contradictions into the legal system and American society, and it has created a thorny dilemma for cannabis businesses and the attorneys they need to help them.

For attorneys, there are two issues that have a chilling effect on their participation: The first is whether by representing a business that is breaking federal law they are violating the ethics of the profession, which could cost them their license to practice; the second is they could be charged with engaging in criminal activity, resulting in fines and prison.

December 5, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 28, 2022

"Medical Cannabis and Autism Spectrum Disorder – Ohio's Marijuana Policy and its Intersection with the Historical Controversial Cannabis Treatment"

In a very busy semester, I have fallen a bit behind posting some recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  I am hopeful about catching up in the days ahead, as I continue to relish the he chance to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates.  And the title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Lindsey Mead who is in the midst of her 3L year at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract: 

In the state of Ohio, medical marijuana is offered as a treatment option for many different illnesses and disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.  However, one condition missing from this list of syndromes that may legally use medical marijuana as a form of treatment is autism spectrum disorder. This paper aims to understand why autism spectrum disorder is not included in this list while also analyzing relevant present legislation such as House Bill 60 and Senate Bill 261.  To answer these questions, this paper examines the benefits of treating autism with medical marijuana as well as the reasoning for why this treatment has been perceived so negatively.

November 28, 2022 in Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

"Foreshadowing an Inevitable Clash: Criminal Probation, Drug Treatment Courts, and Medical Marijuana"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Michael Sousa available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

The criminal justice system underwent two revolutionary developments over the past twenty years – the legalization of medical marijuana at the state level, which provides criminal immunity protections for qualifying patients, and the exponential rise of drug treatment courts as alternatives to incarceration.  Traditionally, offenders serving probationary sentences are generally prohibited from using drugs as one condition of probation. But courts are now increasingly confronted with challenges to probationary conditions prohibiting the use of medical marijuana in states where it has been legalized.  The trend among courts permits the medicinal use of marijuana during probationary sentences and invalidates conditions prohibiting such use for therapeutic purposes.  Drug treatment courts are a form of probation that offer intensive treatment services for offenders with substance abuse disorders. Most drug treatment courts across the country operate on an abstinence-based model.

While to date there have been no reported challenges to prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by participants in drug treatment court programs, the legal and practical issues are brimming just below the surface, and it is only a matter of time before a clash occurs between criminal immunity provisions under state medical marijuana laws and their consequential applicability in the drug treatment court landscape.  This article takes a forward-looking approach by foreshadowing this seemingly straightforward, but complicated question: how will criminal immunity provisions under state medical marijuana laws and the judicial protections afforded to offenders on regular probation be construed by appellate courts when inevitably challenged by drug treatment court participants?  This is the first scholarly article to address the knotty legal and practical issues underlying this inquiry.  The purpose of this contribution then is to provide future scholars, appellate courts, drug treatment courts, legal actors, and drug treatment court professionals with a robust foundation to draw upon in thinking about the adaptability of medical marijuana use in the drug treatment court domain.

October 20, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)