Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

"The Right Prescription: High Cost Savings and Other Benefits from Medicare and Medicaid Coverage of Medical Marijuana"

As I continue to 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, I continue to have the chance to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates.  The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Nathan Ecker who recently graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract:

As medical marijuana usage continues to grow, coverage options under federal and private health insurance schemes have wilted away.  Despite the expanding list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, patients seeking coverage under Medicare, Medicaid, or other governmental health insurance programs are consistently denied funding under these plans.  Instead, patients are forced to either rely on “traditional pharmaceuticals” or incur the out-of-pocket expenses for medical marijuana.  However, by expanding health insurance coverage to include medical marijuana, medical treatment options would expand, and the government would experience significant cost savings.  This Paper examines the benefits to expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage to encompass medical marijuana and suggests possible solutions for implementation.

June 7, 2022 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 26, 2022

"Legal-ish: An Analysis of Cannabis Law in Ohio and Recommendations for the Future of State Drug Reform"

Continuing to 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 means continuing to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates.  The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by John Berk who just this month graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract:

While bans on marijuana have been eliminated in a majority of states over the past several years, Ohio continues to be stuck in the past with a limited medical program that imposes strict limitations on cultivators, dispensaries and patients.  Full legalization in Michigan and Illinois have been hugely successful, but Ohio’s timid approach has had mixed results due to overregulation and outdated ideas about cannabis users.  It is time for Ohio to move boldly on drug reform in the cannabis space with full legalization, eliminating excessive regulation, creating aggressive criminal justice reform and possibly legalizing other substances before it is left behind by its neighbors.

May 26, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (2)

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 (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Florida official sues feds, stressing Second Amendment and Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, on gun purchasing limits for medical marijuana patients

Florida-guns-and-mmjThis interesting NBC News piece reports on an interesting new federal lawsuit under the headline "Top Florida Democrat sues Biden administration over marijuana and guns: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried's lawsuit targets a federal requirement that prohibits medical marijuana users from purchasing firearms." Here are excerpts:

Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, plans to sue the Biden administration Wednesday to try to block a federal rule that prohibits medical marijuana users from buying guns or maintaining concealed-carry permits. NBC News obtained a draft copy of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit targets a federal form that asks whether the gun buyer is an unlawful user of drugs and specifies that marijuana is illegal under federal law. A person allowed by the state to use marijuana must then check “yes,” which results in denial of the purchase. Lying by checking “no” runs the risk of a five-year prison sentence for making a false statement.

Fried, whose office oversees concealed weapons permits and regulates some aspects of medical marijuana, argues in her lawsuit that the form violates the Second Amendment rights of lawful medical marijuana patients and runs afoul of a congressional budget prohibition on federal agents’ interfering with state-sanctioned cannabis laws.

The suit has ramifications beyond Florida: At least 37 states have legalized medical marijuana, and recreational use is legal in 18 states, as well as Guam and Washington, D.C. The lawsuit is timed to land on April 20 — a nod to the slang reference of "420" for marijuana.

The suit is laden with political opportunity for Fried, who became the only Democrat elected statewide in 2018 when she ran on an unabashedly pro-cannabis platform. Two years before, 71 percent of Florida voters legalized medical marijuana, and polls show a majority favor legalization of recreational use. Florida also has 2.5 million concealed weapons permit holders, according to Fried’s office.

“Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal. This is all about people’s rights,” Fried said in a statement to NBC News. “And I don’t care who I have to sue to fight for their freedom.”

In her official capacity as agriculture commissioner, Fried is bringing the suit with three citizens who have been affected by the federal rules. It names the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants. While it’s rare for a Democrat to sue a Democratic administration during an election year, Fried said the issue can no longer wait because of the volume of complaints her office has received.

A spokesperson for ATF said the agency “can’t speculate on possible litigation or discuss any pending litigation” but implicitly blamed federal lawmakers for not changing the Controlled Substances Act and the Gun Control Act, which respectively regulate marijuana and firearms....

Fried’s former pollster, Keith Frederick, said any risks for her by bucking the Biden administration are offset because she’s raising her profile by embracing a popular issue. “You can have the best affordable housing plan possible, but once you get to point No. 2, people’s eyes glaze over, and they stop paying attention,” Frederick said. “People care about this.”

Support for medical marijuana and cannabis legalization cuts across party lines, as does opposition to the conflicting regulations in state and federal law. Gun rights are also generally popular in Florida.

Fried’s lawsuit notes that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas groused in an unrelated case about the “half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids use of marijuana.” “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary,” Thomas said.

Other plaintiffs have tried and failed to sue the federal government over gun purchases. Fried’s lawsuit singles out the most recent lawsuit for presenting “a thin and stale factual record” that improperly ignored a federal study concluding that “marijuana use does not induce violent crime.” In addition, unlike the other unsuccessful federal case, Fried’s lawsuit argues that the form violates the so-called Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits ATF from enforcing anti-cannabis policies in states that have opted for legalization.

The full lawsuit is available at this link.  The complaint runs 33 pages, followed by more than 200 pages of notable attachment.  

April 20, 2022 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Student presentation on marijuana reform and the Fourth Amendment

Marijuana1I mentioned previously that a big group of Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar students are scheduled to present this week on the research topics of their choice. The fifth exciting (and excitingly different) topic for this coming week's presentations is to be focused on the Fourth Amendment. Here is how the student describes the topic and some background readings:

The Fourth Amendment protects the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  Warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, but this protection has been watered down over the past 100 years.  The War on Drugs led to significant changes in Fourth Amendment law as police began using more intrusive tactics to enforce drug laws, in particular with a focus on marijuana law enforcement from the 1990s to the present.  Police use tactics such as the Terry stop and frisk, warrantless vehicle searches, and drug sniffing dogs are commonly used to detect even small amounts of marijuana, and as of 2018, 89.6% of marijuana arrests were for possession only.

Giving police officers significantly lead way to decide when a search is appropriate has arguably led to racial profiling and consequently, contributed to the racial disparities we see in marijuana law enforcement today.  From 2001 all the way through 2018, a Black person was almost four times as likely to be arrest for marijuana possession as a white person, despite studies showing these groups use marijuana at substantially equal rates.  Further, a Black person is also more likely to be stopped by police for alleged traffic violations and more likely to be searched during a stop.

With the passage of marijuana legalization (decriminalization, medicinal legalization and recreational legalization) we have began to see some of these police practices, restoring some of the Fourth Amendment rights lost due to the war on drugs.  In particular, my project will focus on whether the scent of marijuana is still sufficient to prove probable cause for a search under these various regimes, and whether a drug sniffing dog that is trained to detect marijuana can likewise provide probable cause for a vehicle search.  The hope is that by eliminating these intrusive tactics (saying they do not provide probable cause), we will regain the Fourth Amendment rights lost due to the war on drugs, particularly for those who have been the most affected, people of color, and that racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement will begin to decline.

Background:

Please watch this video explaining police procedures (and misconduct) in the traffic stop of Tae-Ahn Lea. Audit the Audit, Officers Sued for Searching Vehicle During Traffic Stop, YouTube, (Sept. 30, 2019) .

Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group (OMAG) piece analyzes the application of the Fourth Amendment in legal states. Matt Love, How Other States Apply the Fourth Amendment to Medical Marijuana (Oct. 15, 2019)

ACLU Report: A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform (2020) 

April 14, 2022 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Student presentation exploring "Expansion of Medical Marijuana in Ohio and its Impact on the Opioid Crisis"

Medical-marijuana-in-fight-against-opiodsAfter a Spring Break break, students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are back to taking over my class through presentations on the research topics of their choice.  As I have mentioned, before their presentations, students are expected to provide in this space some background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant.  The first of this coming week's presentation is title "Solving A Drug Epidemic with More Drugs: A Discussion on the Expansion of Medical Marijuana in Ohio and its Impact on the Opioid Crisis."  Here is how the student describes the topic and provided readings:

Summary:

Ohio’s current Medical Marijuana Control Program has identified 25 qualifying conditions for the recommendation of medical marijuana.  Ohio Senate Bill 261 proposes to expand that list of qualifying conditions to include “opioid use disorder.”

Ohio declared a public health emergency in 2010 due to the rising opioid overdose deaths and currently ranks as one of the top states with a high opioid death rate.  At the root of the opioid epidemic is the proliferation of over-prescription methods to treat chronic pain with opioid pain killers.  The question emerges — if medical marijuana may be recommended to treat chronic pain and opioid use disorder, could medical marijuana provide a solution to the opioid crisis?

Other states have gone before Ohio to add “opioid use disorder” as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. There may be hope medical marijuana can serve as a form of treatment for those struggling with opioid addiction and an alternative for managing the disease and pain.  From a policy perspective, the idea seems hopeful, but further research is needed to ensure any potential relationship between medical marijuana and the opioid crisis.

The goal is to work through some of the research available on this relationship and develop a comprehensive discussion on the potential benefits and risks of using medical marijuana in the realm of opioids.

Background Reading:

News Article: "Legal marijuana either eases opioid crisis or makes it worse. The evidence is split."

Law Review Article: "From Opioids to Marijuana: Out of the Tunnel and into the Fog"

Study: "Medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in the United States, 1999-2010"

Study: "Association between medical cannabis laws and opioid overdose mortality has reversed over time"

Study: "Association between fatal opioid overdose and state medical cannabis laws in US national survey data, 2000-2011

March 19, 2022 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Register now for "Ohio Cannabis Reform in Focus"

Download (13)The quoted portion of the title of this post is the title of this exciting event taking place next month, on April 7, 2022 from noon-2:30 pm as a  hybrid even in person in Saxbe Auditorium in Drinko Hall at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and also on Zoom.  Folks can and should Learn More and Register at this link.  Here are the basics about the event:

The year 2022 might see significant cannabis reforms in the state of Ohio, both to the existing medical marijuana regime as well as the proposed legalization of adult-use marijuana. Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for two expert panels that will put focus on these two possible routes to reform and the implications they may have for patients and Ohioans alike.

Medical Marijuana Reform panelnoon-1:10 p.m. EDT

After three years of operation, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program continues to grow and yet continues to be plagued by high levels of patient dissatisfaction due to access limits and high costs. The recent approval of dozens of new dispensary licenses comes as major reform bills have been introduced in the Ohio General Assembly with the aim of improving the Ohio MMCP's functionality for both patients and the cannabis industry. Please join our panel of experts as we discuss on-going and proposed reforms, why they are needed and how they could impact the various stakeholders.

Panelists:Ohio Senator Steven HuffmanAndrew Makoski, Administrative Attorney, Ohio Department of CommerceAdditional panelist TBA

Adult-Use Marijuana Reform panel1:20-2:30 p.m. EDT

The fall of 2021 was eventful when it comes to Ohio marijuana reform proposals. Two major bills were introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, and a voter-initiated statute campaign collected enough signatures to be sent to the General Assembly for considerations. Yet, despite polling suggesting public support for these kinds of reforms, the Ohio political leadership appears unlikely to advance adult-use legalization in 2022. Please join us for a panel of experts and policy advocates as they discuss the future of marijuana legalization in Ohio as a matter of politics and policy, including the arguments for and against reform and the possible consequences of action or inaction on the part of Ohio General Assembly.

Panelists:Ohio Representative Ron FergusonThomas Haren, Partner, Frantz WardJodi Salvo, Director of Substance Use Prevention Services, OhioGuidestone

March 16, 2022 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 7, 2022

Reviewing the need for, and barriers to, additional medical marijuana research

Students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are continuing to "take over" my class through presentations on the research topics of their choice, and are continuing to provide in this space some background on their topic and links to some readings or relevant materials. The second of our presentations taking place this week will focus on medical marijuana research, and here is how my student has described his topic along with background readings:

Medical Marijuana and the federal government have a long, complicated history.  By complicated, I mean not complicated at all.  Marijuana has been illegal at the federal level ever since the Controlled Substances Act was signed into law.  Medical marijuana research in the U.S. has so far been limited, although two FDA approved, marijuana-derived drugs have been on the market since the 1980’s.  The overwhelming consensus is that the research space is not nearly as large as it could be, given the large user base, and that potential therapeutic effects of marijuana are largely unknown.

Even though its medicinal use goes back millennia.  Even today, many users self-report more managed symptoms from a variety of diseases and ailments; nausea and vomiting, chronic pain, and spasticity.  Researchers in the United States would like to further study some of these self-reported medicinal benefits of marijuana, but they claim that the federal government makes marijuana research too hard to be worth the effort.

This paper and my accompanying presentation begin by discussing the brightest research areas for medical marijuana consumption, and why those are not enough.  Then I will explore why marijuana has not received as much attention as the scientific community would like to give it.  Finally, I will discuss potential legislative fixes.

Sources and Background Reading

N.I.D.A., What is the scope of cannabis (marijuana) use in the United States? (2022).

Nat’l Academies of Sciences, Eng’g, and Med., Health and Med. Div., The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research (2017)

U. of Mississippi, Marijuana Research (2022)

21 U.S.C. § 811

Michael H. Andreae et al., An Ethical Exploration of Barriers to Research on Controlled Drugs, 16 Am. J. Bioeth. 36 (2016).

Caleb Hellerman, Scientists Say the Government’s Only Pot Farm Has Moldy Samples – and no Federal Testing Standards (2017)

March 7, 2022 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 7, 2022

Pleased to see The National Jurist include "cannabis law" on list of "20 hottest law jobs for the next decade"

6a00d8341c4eab53ef0278806273ce200d-800wiThanks to Paul Caron's posting, I just saw that the latest issue of The National Jurist has an extended feature headlined "20 hottest law jobs for the next decade" which makes mention of cannabis lawyering. Here is a bit of the piece's preamble along with its short discussion of "Cannabis Law":

Crystal balls are hazy, but we’re following the trends to predict which practice specialties will be most in demand.... What’s next on the horizon? That’s a tough question, but it’s not impossible to predict.

We turned to top experts, the three authors of “Law Jobs: The Complete Guide,” to get their opinions on which fields show the most promise. They know their stuff. In their book, they identify hundreds of specialties and sub-specialties.

The most pertinent advice from the authors: “While it makes sense to take a close look at hot specialties, the most important thing is to find a job that fits one’s personality, passions and values.  Our book gives readers the information about the pros and cons of each major career type in order for people to find their fit.”

The authors are: Andrew McClurg, professor emeritus of The University of Memphis-Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law; Christine Nero Coughlin, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law; and Nancy Levit, a professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.  They offer personal and professional advice on the 20 hottest practice areas.

Cannabis Law by ANDREW McCLURG

Legal job experts are high on the emerging area of cannabis law.  Yes, pun intended.  Seriously, nearly all lists of hot legal specialty areas include cannabis law.  Makes sense.  A majority of Americans now live in states where marijuana is allowed for recreational and/or medical use.

Legal marijuana is a heavily regulated area, and laws vary considerably from state to state.  Because everything is new, regulators are struggling to interpret the rules as they go.  Throw in the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and you have plenty of potential pitfalls that require lawyers.  A mistake can result in criminal prosecution for your client, and maybe for yourself.

Cannabis law is a blend of areas, including administrative law, banking law, entity formation, intellectual property, tax law and venture capital.  Because it requires knowledge of so many areas, most cannabis lawyers work in small specialty firms or in specialty groups within large firms.  It’s a competitive niche field, not something to dabble in.  Even though the area is expanding, jobs aren’t ever going to be as widely available as in traditional fields.

I think this description is generally sound, as is the full list of job areas on the list of 20 including sound and obvious choices like health law and environmental law and immigration law and M&A. But I did find it notable that just about every other "hot" jobs area of law was one that just about every law school has at least one and often multiple courses in the subject. But, as my Center has highlighted in recent reports (see here and here to download), only a handful of law schools regularly teach classes on cannabis law.

January 7, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Another Veterans Day with veterans still not getting support when it comes to medical marijuana access

Weed-canvasBecause the US Department of Veterans Affairs prohibits its doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients, current federal law essentially puts veterans last, not first, when it comes to access to medical marijuana.  I have regularly blogged about a range of issues relating to veterans and their access to marijuana (many posts on this topic are linked below), and this week brings more discussion of these depressingly evergreen issues:

From Politico, "VA rejects cannabis research as veterans plead for medical pot."  An excerpt:

The recent withdrawal from Afghanistan has exacerbated the demand for more understanding of using cannabis for treatment. Calls to the Veterans Crisis Line, which is operated by the VA, increased by six percent in the weeks immediately following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and veterans of America’s longest war use cannabis at the highest rates among veterans to self-medicate their ailments.

Advocates, Hill aides and former VA staff told POLITICO the VA defers on this issue to the Justice Department, which classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. A Schedule I drug by definition has no medicinal value, which in turn prevents the VA from treating patients with cannabis.

For veterans receiving VA health care, cannabis still occupies a gray area.  Official guidance states that veterans can talk to their VA doctor about their cannabis use without repercussions, but many vets say they fear mentioning it because it is still federally illegal.  VA doctors, meanwhile, still cannot prescribe cannabis or issue medical marijuana cards in any of the 36 states that have legalized medical marijuana.  

An average of 18 veterans a day committed suicide in 2018, according to data from the VA....  According to the VA, a number of studies have indicated that both PTSD and battlefield trauma contribute to a higher rate of suicidal ideation — and exposure to suicide, such as a friend or family member, can in turn contribute to PTSD. Many veterans and their advocates point to anecdotal evidence that cannabis successfully reduces the effects of PTSD — as well as insomnia, which can worsen PTSD symptoms — but there is yet no clinical evidence.

From Marijuana Moment, "This Veterans Day, Think About Cannabis And Veterans Healthcare (Op-Ed)." An excerpt:

Medical cannabis use would likely be even more prevalent among veterans if not for the oppositional stance that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken. According to national survey data compiled by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 75 percent of respondents “would be interested in using cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option if it were available.” Further, many veterans feel that they have been deterred from seeking medical cannabis due to the VA’s policy of “clinical relevance to patient care,” but “providers are prohibited from completing forms or registering veterans for participation in state-approved [medical cannabis] program[s].”

For those veterans that do acknowledge using medical cannabis, they most often report using it to mitigate their post traumatic stress, anxiety and chronic pain. Some veterans also report using it as a substitute for alcohol or other illicit drugs. Many chronic pain patients who begin using medical cannabis greatly decrease or even eliminate their use of opioids and other prescription drugs.

I feel a genuine and deep debt to anyone and everyone who serves this nation through the armed forces, and I feel strongly that veterans should be able to have safe and legal access to any and every form of medicine that they and their doctors reasonably believe could help them with any ailments or conditions.  Even though there are many issues that divide this nation, I would hope we could all come together to support treating veterans at least as well as other Americans when it comes to access to the medicine of their choice.

Some of many prior related posts:

November 11, 2021 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 25, 2021

"The Impact of Medical Marijuana Legalization on Opioid Prescriptions"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper recently posted to SSRN authored by Hayoung Cheon, Tong Guo, Puneet Manchanda and S. Sriram.  Here is its abstract:

Since the late 1990s, opioids have been increasingly prescribed for pain treatment in the U.S as a result of aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies.  This has resulted in more than 450,000 opioid overdose deaths since then.  In the same time period, several U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, a drug that can also be used for pain relief.  As a result, medical marijuana can be used as a substitute for opioids, leading to a reduction in opioid prescriptions.  On the other hand, marijuana use can lead to increased substance abuse, leading to a potential increase in opioid prescriptions.  The lack of scientific and medical knowledge along with the uncertain regulatory environment vis-a-vis medical marijuana use also makes it possible that its legalization has no impact on opioid prescriptions. 

With claims data from a large health insurance company in the U.S. between 2006 and 2016, we study the effect of medical marijuana legalization on opioid prescriptions, leveraging the temporal variation in state-wise legalization.  We find that, on average, opioid prescriptions decreased after medical marijuana legalization for all three outcome metrics that we consider (number of prescriptions, total days of supply, and total dosage in MME).  We also find that the role of physicians in reducing opioid prescriptions after legalization is more prominent than their corresponding role in increasing opioid prescriptions. 

October 25, 2021 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Full policy brief version of "Blowing Smoke at the Second Amendment"

Regular readers are familiar with my regular posts highlighting papers from the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  I am excited to now be able to highlight a partnership with the Reason Foundation to turn some of these DEPC student papers into extended policy briefs.   Ohio State College of Law‬⁩ alum Helen Sudhoff has this first full policy brief completed under the title "Blowing Smoke at the Second Amendment," which highlights constitutional problems with federal law prohibiting medical marijuana users from possessing firearms.  Here is the brief's introduction:

The federal government prohibits users of Schedule I drugs from purchasing or possessing a firearm.  Despite that most states have enacted legal medical marijuana programs, marijuana is still federally illegal and designated as a Schedule I substance with no medical value.  Individuals who use medical marijuana in accordance with their state’s licensed programs are nevertheless prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under federal law.  As such, the onus is placed on medical marijuana patients to either disclose their marijuana use, which disqualifies themselves from purchasing a firearm and requires they relinquish possession of all firearms, or misrepresent their status as a marijuana user, risking fines or imprisonment.  The following discussion will address the problems inherent in the federal government’s current regulatory framework for the right to keep and bear arms in the context of medical marijuana use, circumstances that implicate the privilege against self-incrimination, and how to revise the regulatory framework in accordance with the guarantees of the Constitution.

October 19, 2021 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 27, 2021

"Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at Three Years: Evaluating Satisfaction and Perception"

2021-OMMCP-Report_for-web-768x256The title of this post is the title of this terrific new report authored by Jana Hrdinova of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  This DEPC webpage provides this overview:

Summary

H.B 523, enacted by the Ohio General Assembly, became effective in September 2016 and made Ohio the 25th state to adopt a comprehensive medical marijuana program.  A new report from the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) traces the development of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) since the start of legal sales in January 2019 and documents continued dissatisfaction among patients and prospective patients.

By gathering key program data and reporting on a new patient survey, this research fills gaps in our understanding of the OMMCP five years after becoming law.  With multiple new marijuana reforms under discussion in Ohio, the perceived effectiveness and success of the current system among patients and potential patients may shape the long-term prospects and future of the program.

Selected Findings

  • 55% of respondents reported some level of dissatisfaction with OMMCP, with 25.4% reporting being “extremely dissatisfied” and nearly 30% being “somewhat dissatisfied.”  However, when compared to previous years the overall dissatisfaction levels are declining (67% in 2019 reported being dissatisfied, compared to 62% in 2020 and 55% this year).  Additionally, the intensity of dissatisfaction has lessened.

  • 72% of survey respondents with a qualifying medical condition reported that Ohio dispensaries were their primary source of medical marijuana.  For people who indicated that they purchased marijuana from other sources, the primary reason for doing so was the cost of product in Ohio dispensaries and the cost and difficulty associated with becoming a registered patient.

  • High price of marijuana in Ohio dispensaries was the top reason cited by participants for their continued dissatisfaction, for not using licensed dispensaries, and for opting out of using medical marijuana.  Price of marijuana in Ohio continues to be considerably higher than in Michigan and significantly lower than in Pennsylvania.  The second and third top-cited reasons were lack of home grow and lack of employment protections, respectively.

  • 81% of respondents reported having trust in the safety of products sold in Ohio dispensaries. Only 8% reported not trusting the safety of dispensary products.

  • COVID-19 inspired changes, including telemedicine, online ordering and curbside pick-up have had a positive impact on patients’ satisfaction levels.

  • Despite growth in sales and in the number of patients and caregivers, the number of physicians with a Certificate to Recommend has actually decreased over the last 12 months.  Ohio is now second to last in the number of physicians per 100,000 residents able to recommend medical marijuana.

September 27, 2021 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Is the marijuana industry where everyone is going back to work?

Download (10)The question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable lengthy new Washington Post article, fully headlined "Greener pastures: Marijuana jobs are becoming a refuge for retail and restaurant workers: An estimated 321,000 Americans now work in the legal cannabis industry, outnumbering the country’s dentists, paramedics and electrical engineers." Here are excerpts:

After a year on the front lines, Jason Zvokel traded in his 15-year career as a Walgreens pharmacist for a different kind of drugstore: a marijuana dispensary.

Now instead of administering vaccines and filling prescriptions, he’s helping customers make sense of concentrates, tablets and lozenges. His pay is 5 percent lower, he says, but the hours are more manageable. “I am so much happier,” said Zvokel, 46, who’s worked in retail since he was 18. “For the first time in years, I’m not miserable when I come home from work.”

The cannabis industry is riding a pandemic high: Marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities — deemed “essential” by many states at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis — became an early refuge for retail and restaurant workers who had been furloughed or laid off. The industry has continued to grow, adding nearly 80,000 jobs in 2020, more than double what it did the year before, according to data from the Leafly Jobs Report, produced in partnership with Whitney Economics.

An estimated 321,000 Americans now work in the industry, a 32 percent increase from last year, the report found, making legal marijuana one of the nation’s fastest-growing sectors. In other words: The United States now has more legal cannabis workers than dentists, paramedics or electrical engineers....

That surge in cannabis hiring has put pressure on traditional employers — particularly in the 18 states and the District where recreational marijuana use is legal — to ease drug testing requirements. Amazon, the nation’s second-largest private employer, said in June that it would stop screening employees for cannabis use and would support federal legislation to legalize marijuana. A number of other employers, including retailers, restaurants and city governments have also dropped such requirements in an effort to attract workers in a labor market where job openings outpace the number of unemployed Americans 10.9 million to 8.4 million.

Workers’ rights groups are pressing for broader unionization in the cannabis industry, calling it a critical time to establish well-paying jobs with proper protections. With the right policies, they say, the industry could become a pipeline to middle-class jobs, much like the manufacturing industry used to be....

Brianna Price recently left a job as a grocery stocker to become a “budtender” — an industry term for a sales associate — at a dispensary. She’s been promoted three times in the year she’s worked there, and now oversees all purchasing and a staff of nine.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said Price, 31, of Midland, Mich., who worked as a paralegal for eight years before she was laid off early in the pandemic. She took a part-time job at the supermarket chain Aldi, but says it paid so little that she had to move back in with her parents. There were other downsides, too: Her shifts often started at 5 a.m. and sometimes consisted of standing outside, wiping down shopping carts for hours on end....

At the Hempire Collective in Loomis, Mich., where she works, sales have more than doubled in the last year, to roughly $500,000 a month, according to co-owner Mario Porter. He’s expanded his dispensary staff from seven to 12, and expects to hire more this year. Many of his new employees, he said, come from retail jobs that they left during the pandemic.

September 24, 2021 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

"Cannabis as Treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women: An Opportunity for the Cannabis Wellness Industry"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Jamie Feyko, a rising 3L 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 latest paper's abstract:  

In a healthcare landscape that routinely ignores women’s pain, many women turn to cannabis to manage their otherwise debilitating chronic pelvic pain caused by conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.  This paper explores how the Controlled Substances Act wrongly characterized cannabis as having “no medicinal value” and the effects this federal illegality still has on women seeking alternative pain management therapies for chronic pelvic pain.  Additionally, this paper explains why and how cannabis helps relieve such pain through discussing the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD on the body’s inflammatory response and the body’s endocannabinoid system.  Women, as the leading consumers in our society, have expressed a need and a desire for products that provide relief from chronic pelvic pain and increase sexual pleasure.  The 2018 Farm Bill opened the doors to CBD businesses looking to break into the women’s sexual and reproductive wellness market.  The market for women-centric CBD pain relief and sexual enjoyment is far from saturated, and this paper encourages those in the CBD industry (or those looking to enter the industry) to take note.

July 20, 2021 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Highlighting all the great content in BULR's issue on "Marijuana Law 2020: Lessons From the Past, Ideas for the Future"

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

"Higher Me: Marijuana Regulation in the Workforce and the Need for State Legislated Employee Protections"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Lily Boehmer, 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:  

Although illegal under federal law, states have increasingly pushed the cannabis legality boundary by legalizing the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana at the state level. In the space between diverging federal and state law, such actions have created a dire situation for employees; employees in states that have legalized the use of marijuana can be fired for arguably legal conduct. Legalization of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products increase the risk of termination and litigation for employees and employers. State legalization is not what it purports it to mean.

This paper examines the current legal framework of cannabis regulation, discusses the historical, legal precedent of an employer’s right to terminate an employee in contrast to recent case law providing protection and hope to employees, and analyzes why some employers have stopped marijuana drug testing in response to faulty testing and diminished applicant pools.  Ultimately, this paper argues that, absent federal legalization of marijuana, states must protect employees’ off-duty marijuana use through express state legislation.  Legalization cannot be fully actualized until employees can use marijuana without employment repercussions.

July 13, 2021 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 21, 2021

"The Public Health Effects of Legalizing Marijuana"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by D. Mark Anderson and Daniel I. Rees available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Thirty-six states have legalized medical marijuana and 14 states have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.  In this paper, we review the literature on the public health consequences of legalizing marijuana, focusing on studies that have appeared in economics journals as well as leading public policy, public health, and medical journals.  Among the outcomes considered are: youth marijuana use, alcohol consumption, the abuse of prescription opioids, traffic fatalities, and crime.  For some of these outcomes, there is a near consensus in the literature regarding the effects of medical marijuana laws (MMLs).  As an example, leveraging geographic and temporal variation in MMLs, researchers have produced little credible evidence to suggest that legalization promotes marijuana use among teenagers.  Likewise, there is convincing evidence that young adults consume less alcohol when medical marijuana is legalized.  For other public health outcomes such as mortality involving prescription opioids, the effect of legalizing medical marijuana has proven more difficult to gauge and, as a consequence, we are less comfortable drawing firm conclusions.  Finally, it is not yet clear how legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes will affect these and other important public health outcomes.  We will be able to draw stronger conclusions when more post-treatment data are collected in states that have recently legalized recreational marijuana.

May 21, 2021 in Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Notable working group releases new "Principles for Federal Cannabis Regulations & Reform"

As detailed in this new Drug Policy Alliance press release, today "the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group released its Principles for Federal Cannabis Regulations & Reform," outlining what a federal regulatory framework — grounded in justice and social equity—should look like." Here is more from the DPA release:

The working group was convened by the Drug Policy Alliance at the beginning of this year.

Throughout a series of meetings and in-depth conversations, the group — made up of cannabis state regulators, public health professionals, criminal justice reform advocates, civil rights attorneys, people working with directly impacted communities in the cannabis industry, re-entry advocates, academics and an expert involved in Canada’s cannabis regulation — has identified key principles that should guide the development of federal cannabis regulation policies.  The principles document encourages and provides guidance on issues related to racial justice, equity, preventing underage use, elimination of lifelong consequences, medical use, taxation, research and more.  This release precedes the group’s continued effort to develop and roll out a more comprehensive set of recommendations for Congress on crucial issues such as — but not limited to — which federal agency should regulate cannabis (and to what extent), what kind of product should cannabis be regulated as, expungement, workforce development, medical use, non-commercial activity, and enforcement.

It will be very interesting to see if how forthcoming federal marijuana reform bills meet up with this two-page statement of principles.

April 20, 2021 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Hitting the Trip-Wire: When Does a Company Become a 'Marijuana Business'?"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by Lauren Newell recently posted to SSRN.  Here is its a abstract:

Like the alcohol industry during Prohibition, the marijuana industry is a profitable one.  And, like bootlegging was then, selling marijuana in the United States now is illegal.  Despite the number of states that have legalized or decriminalized the sale of marijuana for medical or recreational use under state law, marijuana sales remain illegal as a matter of federal law under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA).  Individuals and entities that violate the CSA face substantial potential criminal and civil liability, including prison time and fines, alongside a host of additional negative consequences arising in business law, tax, bankruptcy, banking, and other sources.  The negative consequences marijuana businesses face have been discussed in detail elsewhere.  This Article asks a different question: not, what are the negative consequences, but rather, when do those negative consequence attach?  In other words, when does a company become a “Marijuana Business”?

For purposes of this discussion, a Marijuana Business is an entity that participates, contributes, or assists, directly or indirectly, in the retail and/or medical marijuana industry to an extent that exposes it, its owners, and its agents to potential criminal and civil liability and other negative business consequences.  In short, these are the companies that should be worried about the fact that they are engaging in an industry that is illegal under federal law.  To identify the circumstances that result in a company’s being a Marijuana Business, this Article analyzes seven hypothetical companies that directly participate in the marijuana industry or support others that do.  For each, it asks whether the facts are sufficient to establish criminal liability either directly under the CSA or indirectly under criminal conspiracy or aiding and abetting liability theories.  Part I briefly introduces criminal liability under the CSA, along with the two complicity theories.  Part II analyzes the hypothetical companies’ actions and determines whether they are Marijuana Businesses.  Part III concludes with factors that courts and companies can look toward to determine whether those companies are indeed Marijuana Businesses.

April 20, 2021 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)