Monday, November 29, 2021
NORML releases online "2021 Legislative Report" detailing "50 laws liberalizing marijuana policies in more than 25 states"
Via this Facebook posting, NORML noted its new legislative report detailed that "lawmakers in 2021 enacted over 50 laws liberalizing marijuana policies in more than 25 states." This online report provides all the details and includes these introductory passages:
2021 was a significant year for marijuana policy reform. Among the most significant developments, legislatures in five states enacted laws legalizing adult-use marijuana possession and regulating retail cannabis markets. This marks a change from past years, when similar laws were primarily enacted via citizens’ initiatives, not by legislative action. In total, 18 states — comprising nearly one-half of the US population — now have laws on the books regulating adult-use marijuana production and retail sales.
Many states also took actions facilitating the expungement or sealing of past marijuana convictions. Such provisions are now generally part and parcel of any adult-use legalization law. In all, state officials have vacated over 2.2 million marijuana convictions in recent months.
With respect to medical cannabis policies, numerous legislatures took steps in 2021 to expand patients’ access to marijuana products. These actions included expanding the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis, expanding the number of licensed providers, and easing pathways for patients to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation. Currently, 36 states regulate medical cannabis distribution to qualifying patients.
These legislative actions reflect the reality that the majority of the public supports meaningful marijuana reforms. According to recent polling data, nearly seven in ten Americans, including majorities of all major subgroups by gender, age, income and education, and including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, believe that the use of marijuana should be made legal. Only eight percent of adults still favor its continued criminalization.
Public and political support for these legislative changes in marijuana laws will continue growing in 2022 and beyond. As we look ahead to next year’s legislative session, we expect to see lawmakers advance with many of the same issues in other states, and we also expect voters in several jurisdictions to decide on citizen-initiated ballot measures next November.
Friday, November 5, 2021
The title of this post is the title of this exciting event taking place online two weeks from today that I have the honor of moderating. As detailed at this registration page, the event will take place on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 from Noon - 1:30pm. Here are the basics with the list of confirmed speakers:
Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Natural Therapies Education Foundation for a virtual discussion featuring panelists representing current Ohio cannabis reform endeavors. The event will provide attendees with knowledge about pending initiatives and legislation, as well as a vision of what the future may hold for cannabis in Ohio.
Mary Jane Borden, co-founder and secretary of the board, Natural Therapies Education Foundation
Thomas Haren, partner, Frantz Ward
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University
Rep. Casey Weinstein, Ohio House of Representatives
Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University
November 5, 2021 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, September 27, 2021
The 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:
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.
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.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
I just came across this interesting new online report from the realtor website Clever Real Estate under the heading "2021 Study: How Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Impacts Home Values." Here are excerpts:
To learn how marijuana legalization may impact real estate, we used publicly available data from Zillow and the U.S. Census, among other sources, to explore the relationships between home values, marijuana legalization, dispensaries, and tax revenue. We used multiple regression analyses to model current trends and predict future patterns.
Overall, we found marijuana legalization leads to higher property values and millions of dollars in new tax revenue. In fact, states that legalize recreational marijuana and add new retail dispensaries see far greater property value and tax revenue gains than states that block dispensaries or limit marijuana to medicinal use.
From 2017 to 2019, home values increased $6,338 more in states where marijuana is legal in some form, compared to states that haven’t legalized marijuana.
As states tax marijuana sales for the first time, the increased revenue drives new investment in things such as public services and infrastructure — which in turn drives higher demand in real estate, higher property values, and greater revenue from property taxes.
On average, home values increase by $470 for every $1 million increase in tax revenue. In 2020, the eight states that reported a full year of marijuana tax revenue earned $2.3 billion — including $1 billion in California alone. The seven states (and Washington, D.C.) that have yet to collect a full year of marijuana taxes are predicted to collectively bring in $601 million in new annual tax revenue.
States that have legalized and allowed sales of recreational marijuana see the biggest increases in home values: Between April 2017 and April 2021, property values rose $17,113 more in states where recreational marijuana is legal, compared to states where marijuana is illegal or limited to medicinal use.
In the five states that have legalized recreational marijuana but have yet to begin sales, home values are predicted to increase by an average of $61,343 when sales go into effect. Among states that have legalized recreational marijuana, California has seen the biggest increase in home values — up by $128,341 since 2017, after we controlled for other variables.
We found that cities with more dispensaries are positively correlated with higher home values, suggesting legalization boosts jobs and economic growth. Home values increased $22,090 more in cities with recreational dispensaries, compared to home values in cities where recreational marijuana is legal but dispensaries are not available. With each new dispensary a city adds, property values increase by $519.
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Since you are reading this blog, you probably know that the answer to the question in the title of this post has to do with marijuana law. policy and reform. Specifically, this new article from The Hill, headlined "Activists see momentum as three new states legalize marijuana," explains:
New laws legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use take effect in three states on Thursday, significantly expanding the number of Americans who will have access to consumable cannabis products. The new laws may give new momentum to the push to legalize marijuana across the country as supporters begin circulating new ballot petitions and legislators drop their historical reluctance to marijuana reform.
Residents in Virginia and Connecticut will be allowed to legally possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes after lawmakers in those states approved new measures earlier this year. In South Dakota, a voter-passed ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana takes effect.
The newly effective laws bring the number of states where recreational marijuana is legal to 18. Sixteen other states allow marijuana use for medical purposes, but not for recreational purposes....
Regulators in both Virginia and Connecticut still have work to do before legal retail sales of marijuana products begin. Lawmakers in Virginia plan to debate the outlines of the retail market when they return to session in Virginia, including provisions that would promote minority ownership of marijuana-related businesses. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has said he plans to name the first executive and the first board members of the newly created Virginia Cannabis Control Authority in the coming days. Legal sales are likely to begin by 2024, said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.
In Connecticut, the first retail dispensaries are expected to open in 2022. Until then, sales remain illegal, though possession of anything under 1.5 ounces in public — or 5 ounces in a protected container — is now legal. Connecticut residents must wait another year before they are legally allowed to grow their own marijuana. Residents will be limited to six plants, including three that are mature and three that are immature.
South Dakota voters approved ballot initiatives to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, but only the medical regime will take effect Thursday after a state judge struck down the recreational measure on constitutional grounds. Residents of South Dakota will only be able to possess marijuana if they have a valid registration card. State regulators have until Nov. 18 to start issuing those cards. State-licensed dispensaries are expected to open by next year....
Supporters of legal marijuana say they now intend to turn their focus to the two remaining New England states where recreational pot is not yet legal, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The Rhode Island legislature, controlled by Democrats, has made moves toward a recreational regime, while the New Hampshire legislature, run by Republicans, has been more reluctant. Backers are also eyeing North Carolina, where a state Senate committee voted for the first time to advance a measure legalizing medical marijuana.
In Florida, supporters were blocked from circulating petitions to qualify a measure for the 2022 ballot after the state Supreme Court ruled the ballot language was misleading, though those supporters are likely to try again. Ballot measures are in various stages of circulating petitions for marijuana legalization measures in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota.
“I would not be surprised that by the end of 2022 we could be seeing half of the states in the country having adopted cannabis for full use,” Hawkins told The Hill.
But opponents of legal marijuana expansion say supporters are reaching the limit of states where they can make progress, either through the ballot initiative process or through the legislature. Legal marijuana bills died this year in states like Delaware and Maryland, in spite of large Democratic majorities that run both legislatures. “I think the marijuana industry is running out of states to pass legalization in,” said Kevin Sabet, author of "Smokescreen: What the Marijuana Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know" and head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization. “The easy wins for the pot industry are beginning to dry up.”
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
When I started this blog nearly eight years ago, it was often pretty big (and blogworthy) news whenever any single state would move forward with any kind of marijuana reform in the usual legislative process. Back then, adult-use reform by traditional legislation was almost unthinkable and only a few state legislatures had enacted modest medical programs via standard legislation (as opposed to a ballot initiative). But fast forward less than a decade, and here is a round-up of news accounts of notable legislative developments in just the first week of June 2021:
Of course, all this mid-year action comes on the heels of already historic legislative developments in the first part of 2021 with four states (New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Virginia) legalizing adult-use of marijuana and one deep south state (Alabama) legalizing medical marijuana through the traditional legislative process.
June 8, 2021 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, May 17, 2021
Alabama Gov signs medical marijuana legislation just days after Mississippi Supreme Court blows up medical marijuana initiative
As detailed by these recent stories and headlines, it has been an interesting time lately with respect to marijuana reform in the deep south:
From the Yellowhammer State, "Gov. Kay Ivey signs Alabama medical marijuana law"
From the Magnolia State, "Mississippi Supreme Court overturns medical marijuana Initiative 65"
There are interesting and important facets to both of these stories, but together they serve as a terrific reminder of just how dynamic and unpredictable marijuana reforms can be on any number of legal and political fronts. But for the historic stigma (as well as persistent federal prohibition), I suspect lots and lots of prominent folks would be writing lots and lots of books and articles about what we can and should be learning from modern marijuana reform movements for all sort of other social and policy arenas.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously upholds employer obligation to reimburse medical marijuana for workplace injury
The New Jersey Supreme Court yesterday issued a unanimous decision that serves as a reminder of just some of the legal questions that continue arising amid continued marijuana reforms. Specifically, in Vincent Hager v. M&K Construction, No. A-64-19 (N.J. Apr. 13, 2021) (available here), the top NJ court ruled that medical marijuana expenses were fairly covered under the state's workers' compensation act and that the federal Controlled Substances Act did not preclude or preempt the employer's reimbursement obligations. Here is how the extended opinion gets started:
Vincent Hager injured his back in a work-related accident in 2001 while employed by M&K Construction (M&K). For years thereafter, Hager received treatment for chronic pain with opioid medication and surgical procedures to no avail. In 2016, he enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program both as a means of pain management and to overcome an opioid addiction. Thereafter, a workers’ compensation court found that Hager “exhibit[ed] Permanent Partial Total disability” and ordered M&K to reimburse him for the ongoing costs of his prescription marijuana (the Order). The Appellate Division affirmed.
Before us, M&K contends that New Jersey’s Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (Compassionate Use Act or the Act) is preempted as applied to the Order by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Compliance with the Order, M&K claims, would subject it to potential federal criminal liability for aiding-and-abetting or conspiracy. M&K also asserts that medical marijuana is not reimbursable as reasonable or necessary treatment under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA). Finally, M&K argues that it fits within an exception to the Compassionate Use Act and is therefore not required to reimburse Hager for his marijuana costs.
We conclude that M&K does not fit within the Compassionate Use Act’s limited reimbursement exception. We also find that Hager presented sufficient credible evidence to the compensation court to establish that the prescribed medical marijuana represents, as to him, reasonable and necessary treatment under the WCA. Finally, we interpret Congress’s appropriations actions of recent years as suspending application of the CSA to conduct that complies with the Compassionate Use Act. As applied to the Order, we thus find that the Act is not preempted and that M&K does not face a credible threat of federal criminal aiding-and-abetting or conspiracy liability. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Appellate Division.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
As reported in this AP article, a "man who was prescribed medical marijuana to help with back pain has won a second victory in his legal battle over whether workers’ compensation insurance can reimburse him for the cost, the New Hampshire Supreme Court determined Tuesday." Here is more:
The court ruled in favor of Andrew Panaggio, saying “we are not persuaded” by the state’s arguments that an insurance carrier, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a marijuana possession crime if it has to reimburse Panaggio. In 2019, the court had ruled that a state labor appeals board was wrong to determine that workers’ compensation insurance couldn’t reimburse Panaggio. But the federal law question was unresolved.
Panaggio had hurt his back at work and was approved by the state Department of Health and Human Services to participate in a therapeutic cannabis program in 2016. He used the medical marijuana to treat ongoing pain and sought reimbursement through workers’ compensation....
The New Hampshire court noted Tuesday that other courts have considered whether the Controlled Substances Act preempts a state order requiring medical marijuana reimbursement, and that the results are mixed. In a 2018 case in Maine, the state supreme court ruled against a paper mill worker who was disabled after being hurt on the job in 1989. But last year, in New Jersey, an appeals court ruled that a contractor must reimburse a former employee for the cost of medical marijuana that he uses to treat pain from a work-related injury.
At least five states have found medical marijuana treatment is reimbursable under their workers’ compensation laws, and other states have proposed similar laws, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance. Several states have passed laws excluding medical marijuana treatment from workers’ compensation reimbursement.
The full unanmous ruling from the Supreme Court of New Hampshire is available at this link.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
The title of this post is the headline of this great new lengthy Politico article, which is summarized by its subheadline: "By making local officials the gatekeepers for million-dollar businesses, states created a breeding ground for bribery and favoritism." I recommend the piece in full, and here is a small taste:
In the past decade, 15 states have legalized a regulated marijuana market for adults over 21, and another 17 have legalized medical marijuana. But in their rush to limit the numbers of licensed vendors and give local municipalities control of where to locate dispensaries, they created something else: A market for local corruption.
Almost all the states that legalized pot either require the approval of local officials – as in Massachusetts – or impose a statewide limit on the number of licenses, chosen by a politically appointed oversight board, or both. These practices effectively put million-dollar decisions in the hands of relatively small-time political figures – the mayors and councilors of small towns and cities, along with the friends and supporters of politicians who appoint them to boards. And these strictures have given rise to the exact type of corruption that got [Fall River Mayor Jasiel] Correia in trouble with federal prosecutors. They have also created a culture in which would-be cannabis entrepreneurs feel obliged to make large campaign contributions or hire politically connected lobbyists.
For some entrepreneurs, the payments can seem worth the ticket to cannabis riches. For some politicians, the lure of a bribe or favor can be irresistible.
Correia’s indictment alleges that he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies in exchange for granting them the local approval letters that are necessary prerequisites for obtaining Massachusetts licenses. Correia and his co-conspirators — staffers and friends — accepted a variety of bribes including cash, more than a dozen pounds of marijuana and a “Batman” Rolex watch worth up to $12,000, the indictment charges.
December 27, 2020 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, November 29, 2020
In a handful of prior posts (linked below), I have flagged Oklahoma as a red state to watch closely as a vanguard of modern medical marijuana reforms. And so now I am pleased, but not surprised, to see this lengthy Politico magazine profile of deveopments in the Sooner state. The piece's full headline highlights its themes: "How One of the Reddest States Became the Nation’s Hottest Weed Market; Oklahoma entered the world of legal cannabis late, but its hands-off approach launched a boom and a new nickname: ‘Toke-lahoma.’" I recommend a full read, and here are excerpts:
Oklahoma is now the biggest medical marijuana market in the country on a per capita basis. More than 360,000 Oklahomans — nearly 10 percent of the state’s population — have acquired medical marijuana cards over the last two years. By comparison, New Mexico has the country’s second most popular program, with about 5 percent of state residents obtaining medical cards. Last month, sales since 2018 surpassed $1 billion.
To meet that demand, Oklahoma has more than 9,000 licensed marijuana businesses, including nearly 2,000 dispensaries and almost 6,000 grow operations. In comparison, Colorado — the country’s oldest recreational marijuana market, with a population almost 50 percent larger than Oklahoma — has barely half as many licensed dispensaries and less than 20 percent as many grow operations. In Ardmore, a town of 25,000 in the oil patch near the Texas border, there are 36 licensed dispensaries — roughly one for every 700 residents. In neighboring Wilson (pop. 1,695), state officials have issued 32 cultivation licenses, meaning about one out of 50 residents can legally grow weed.
What is happening in Oklahoma is almost unprecedented among the 35 states that have legalized marijuana in some form since California voters backed medical marijuana in 1996. Not only has the growth of its market outstripped other more established state programs but it is happening in a state that has long stood out for its opposition to drug use. Oklahoma imprisons more people on a per-capita basis than just about any other state in the country, many of them non-violent drug offenders sentenced to lengthy terms behind bars. But that state-sanctioned punitive streak has been overwhelmed by two other strands of American culture — a live-and-let-live attitude about drug use and an equally powerful preference for laissez-faire capitalism....
Oklahoma has established arguably the only free-market marijuana industry in the country. Unlike almost every other state, there are no limits on how many business licenses can be issued and cities can’t ban marijuana businesses from operating within their borders. In addition, the cost of entry is far lower than in most states: a license costs just $2,500. In other words, anyone with a credit card and a dream can take a crack at becoming a marijuana millionaire....
The hands-off model extends to patients, as well. There’s no set of qualifying conditions in order to obtain a medical card. If a patient can persuade a doctor that he needs to smoke weed in order to soothe a stubbed toe, that’s just as legitimate as a dying cancer patient seeking to mitigate pain. The cards are so easy to obtain — $60 and a five-minute consultation — that many consider Oklahoma to have a de facto recreational use program.
But lax as it might seem, Oklahoma’s program has generated a hefty amount of tax revenue while avoiding some of the pitfalls of more intensely regulated programs. Through the first 10 months of this year, the industry generated more than $105 million in state and local taxes. That’s more than the $73 million expected to be produced by the state lottery this fiscal year, though still a pittance in comparison to the overall state budget of nearly $8 billion. In addition, Oklahoma has largely escaped the biggest problems that have plagued many other state markets: Illegal sales are relatively rare and the low cost to entry has made corruption all but unnecessary.
Prior related posts:
- Oklahoma voters resoundingly pass medical marijuana initiative
- Highlighting how extraordinary the approval of medical marijuana was in Oklahoma
- Medical marijuana proving very popular in Oklahoma
- Two very different tales of state medical marijuana reform in Oklahoma and West Virginia
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Some (too early) speculations on the (uncertain) future of marijuana reform after big state wins Election Night 2020
As of Wednesday morning after a very long 2020 Election Night, there is a lot which remains uncertain politically, but one matter is quite clear: marijuana reform is very popular all across the United States. As noting in this post last night, marijuana reform ballot initiatives prevails by pretty large numbers in states as diverse as Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota. This Politico article, headlined "1 in 3 Americans now lives in a state where recreational marijuana is legal," provides some political context:
New Jersey and Arizona, with 8.9 million and 7.3 million residents, respectively, are the biggest wins for advocates this year. Legalization in New Jersey is expected to create a domino effect for legalization in other large East Coast states, including Pennsylvania and New York.
South Dakota, Montana and Mississippi, while much smaller, are significant in another way: As red states, the passage of marijuana measures illustrates the shift in Republican sentiment toward marijuana.
The impact of these ballot measures will be felt in Congress, especially if Democrats regain control of the Senate. If all the measures ultimately pass, a third of House members will represent states where marijuana is legal, as will a fourth of the Senate. If Democrats end up in control of both chambers next year, expect those legal state lawmakers to be called upon to vote on significant changes to federal marijuana policy — including removing all federal penalties for using it.
As of this writing, it is still unclear who will be in the White House for the next four years, but it seems increasing clear that Democrats will not be in control of the Senate. This reality leads me to speculate that, despite the big 2020 state ballot wins, it will still be quite challenging for Congress to move forward with any significant federal statutory marijuana reforms. Whether to pursue a modest or major form of federal reform already divides Democratic lawmakers in various ways, and I doubt that Republican leadership in the Senate will be eager to prioritize or even advance various bills on this topic. If the person in the White House decides he wants to focus on this issue, these political realities could surely change. But, at this moment, it seems to me unlikely that a large number of lawmakers at the federal level will be keen to prioritize these matters in the short term.
But continued non-action at the federal level could actually make even more space for state-level reforms to continue apace. As the Politico excerpt highlights, the outcome in New Jersey should increase the likelihood of traditional legislative reforms in states like New York and Pennsylvania and maybe other northeast states. Also, the big ballot wins in red states in 2020 also makes even more likely that there will be ballot initiatives for full legalization or medical marijuana reform in a half-dozen or more states in the coming years. Just off the top of my head, I count Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma as all real possibilities for state initiatives perhaps as early as 2022.
November 4, 2020 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, 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)
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Though it may be a bit too early to declare all the ballot initiatives winners, as of this writing just before the end of Election Day 2020, it seems as though every marijuana reform initiative and all the other drug reform initiatives on ballots today are going to pass. Specifically, as now reported on this Marijuana Moment tracking page, here is what I am seeing:
Full marijuana legalization:
Arizona: 60% in favor
Montana: 60% in favor
New Jersey: 67% in favor
South Dakota: 53% in favor
Medical marijuana legalization:
Mississippi: 69% in favor
South Dakota: 69% in favor
Oregon: 55% in favor
Washington DC: 77% in favor
Oregon: 59 % in favor
November 3, 2020 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
The title of this post is the title of this exciting and timely new report authored by Dexter Ridgway and Jana Hrdinova of The Ohio State University's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. (The full glossy version of the report is at this link, an SSRN version can be found at this link.) Here is the report's abstract:
As of October 2020, eleven states and the District of Columbia have undergone a transition from medical to adult-use marijuana regimes navigating the creation of a new industry within a complex and incongruous legal framework. The collective experience of these states has created a wealth of lessons for other states that might legalize adult-use marijuana in the future. Yet not much has been written about the process of transition and how states managed the creation and implementation of the regulatory framework for an emerging industry.
This report, which draws on interviews with current and former government officials, aims to fill this gap by documenting lessons learned and decision-making behind the policies that shaped the recreational landscape in four states: Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Oregon. The purpose of this research is to provide actionable and concrete advice to states that are transitioning, or are planning for a transition, from a medical marijuana regime to an adult-use or recreational framework. The report highlights major decision points states face in their transitions and the pros and cons of each choice, lessons learned gathered from the participants in our study, and a short discussion of major challenges each state had to face with their respective programs.y
November 3, 2020 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules, based on state law, that workers' comp insurer not required to cover medical marijuana
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued a notable ruling yesterday in Daniel Wright's Case, No. SJC-12873 (Oct. 27 2020) (available here). The full introduction of the opinion from the unanimous court nicely highlights the issue and its resolution:
In the instant case we are asked to determine whether an insurance company may be ordered to reimburse an employee for medical marijuana expenses pursuant to a general provision of the Massachusetts workers' compensation scheme that requires reimbursement of necessary and reasonable medical expenses. The claimant, Daniel Wright, sought compensation for $24,267.86 of medical marijuana expenses to treat chronic pain stemming from two work-related injuries he sustained in 2010 and 2012. His claim was denied by an administrative judge, and the denial was affirmed on appeal by the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents (department). The reviewing board concluded that marijuana's status as a federally illicit substance preempted any State level authority to order a workers' compensation insurer to pay for Wright's medical marijuana expenses. We likewise conclude that the workers' compensation insurer cannot be required to pay for medical marijuana expenses, but do so based on the medical marijuana act itself.
We recognize that the current legal landscape of medical marijuana law may, at best, be described as a hazy thicket. Marijuana is illegal at the Federal level and has been deemed under Federal law to have no medicinal purposes, but Massachusetts, as well as the majority of States, have legalized medical marijuana and created regulatory schemes for its administration and usage. Complicating and confusing matters further, Congress has placed budgetary restrictions on the ability of the United States Department of Justice to prosecute individuals for marijuana usage in compliance with a State medical marijuana scheme, and the Department of Justice has issued, revised, and revoked memoranda explaining its marijuana enforcement practices and priorities, leaving in place no clear guidance.
The Commonwealth's original medical marijuana act, St. 2012, c. 369 (act or medical marijuana act), was carefully drafted by its sponsors to take into account this most difficult regulatory environment, with provisions specifically designed to avoid possible conflicts with the Federal government. One such provision of the law expressly states that "[n]othing in this law requires any health insurance provider, or any government agency or authority, to reimburse any person for the expenses of the medical use of marijuana." St. 2012, c. 369, § 7 (B). See G. L. c. 94I, § 6 (i). This provision recognizes that when medical marijuana patients seek to recover the costs of such use from third parties, including insurance companies engaged in interstate commerce, the regulatory environment becomes even more problematic. Under the plain language of this provision, those insurers are not required to reimburse medical marijuana expenses for a substance that remains illegal under Federal law.
We conclude that this specific language, and the Federal concerns it seeks to address and avoid, is controlling and not overridden by the general language in the workers' compensation laws requiring workers' compensation insurers to reimburse for reasonable medical expenses. A contrary reading of this specific language, which states that health insurers and government agencies and authorities are not required to reimburse medical marijuana expenses, would have been completely misleading to those who voted on it. It is one thing for a State statute to authorize those who want to use medical marijuana, or provide a patient with a written certification for medical marijuana, to do so and assume the potential risk of Federal prosecution; it is quite another for it to require unwilling third parties to pay for such use and risk such prosecution. The drafters of the medical marijuana law recognized and respected this distinction
The title of this post is the title of this great new web resource put together by the folks I have the honor to work with at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. The resource collects and organizes information and links about the significant number of drug policy reforms proposals appearing on state ballots this election cycle. Here is introduction to the detailed state-by-state materials:
A closer look at drug policy reform decisions voters will make during the 2020 election
On election day 2020, voters will decide more than the next United States President. Drug policy and enforcement reforms will appear on numerous state-level ballots. Five states have qualifying initiatives that attempt to legalize marijuana for medical or adult-use consumption, including some states that will ask voters to decide on multiple pathways to a legal market. And marijuana reform is not the only drug-related issue on ballots. Initiatives in a few states and Washington, D.C. will ask voters to modify existing sentencing laws, decriminalize all drugs, or legalize psychedelics for adult-use and therapeutic reasons.
To gain a better understanding of what this election could mean for drug policy across the U.S., the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) has developed a list of key ballot initiatives reaching voters in 2020. Read on for a list of initiatives we will be watching this November in the areas of marijuana legalization, psychedelics, and criminal justice.
Plus, don’t miss our post-election event Drug Policy Implications of the 2020 Elections on November 16, 2020. Our panel of experts will discuss the 2020 election results and what they are likely to mean for drug enforcement and policy at both the state and federal level.
October 28, 2020 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
The title of this post is the title of this new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Samuel DeWitt, a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. (This paper is yet another in the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.) Here is this latest paper's abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic, while detrimental to the American economy as a whole, positively impacted the cannabis industry in many ways. This paper examines how the pandemic changed the medical cannabis industries in three states where medical cannabis programs were recently implemented -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
In all three states, cannabis dispensaries were declared essential businesses and have remained in operation throughout the pandemic. Due to the necessities of social distancing and minimizing contact, the medical cannabis programs in these states implemented new, innovative measures such curbside pickup, online ordering technology, drive-thru windows, delivery systems, and telehealth consultations. Additionally, some states loosened restrictions on supply limits and caregiver registration, making medical cannabis more accessible to patients. This paper suggests that many of these changes should remain permanent after the pandemic ends because they have modernized and, in some cases, legitimized, the cannabis industries in these states.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new Marijuana Moment piece headlined "South Dakota Voters Support Medical And Recreational Marijuana Initiatives, New Opposition Poll Finds." Here are excerpts:
A majority of South Dakota voters support separate initiatives to allow both medical and recreational marijuana that will appear on the state’s November ballot, according to a new poll funded by legalization opponents.
But when it comes to the proposed adult-use legalization amendment, opponents argue that there’s significant confusion over what it would accomplish, as most people who said they favor the measure cited therapeutic applications of cannabis as reasons they support the broad reform.
The statutory medical cannabis initiative would allow patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions to possess and purchase up to three ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary. They could also grow at least three plants, or more if authorized by a physician.
The proposed constitutional amendment, which couldn’t be changed by the legislature if approved by voters, would legalize marijuana for adult use. People 21 and older could possess and distribute up to one ounce, and they would also be allowed to cultivate up to three cannabis plants.
There’s strong support for each of the measures in the new prohibitionist-funded survey, which was conducted June 27-30 and announced in a press release on Thursday. Roughly sixty percent of South Dakota voters said they favor recreational legalization, while more than 70 percent said they back medical cannabis legalization, according to the No Way on A Committee, which didn’t publish detailed cross-tabs, or even specific basic top-line numbers, from the poll results.
The decision by the prohibitionist committee to release the results of a poll showing such broad support for legalization is an interesting one. Typically, ballot campaigns and candidates use polling results to demonstrate momentum, but perhaps the South Dakota group is seeking to sound the alarm and generate donations from national legalization opponents to help stop the measure. If South Dakota votes to legalize cannabis this November, that would signal that the policy can pass almost anywhere....
While the recreational measure might not have been crafted solely with patient access in mind, adults who want to use marijuana for therapeutic reasons would still stand to benefit from a regulated market — regardless of whether it’s a medical or adult-use model — so it’s possible that the survey results don’t demonstrate total confusion among those respondents. Plus, the constitutional amendment does contain language requiring the legislature to enact policies on medical cannabis as well—providing more robust constitutional protections for therapeutic use than the statutory measure alone would ensure.
Maine, Nevada and especially Alaska are arguably "reddish" or "red" states that have already fully legalized marijuana via ballot initiatives in years past. But South Dakota is really deep red, as in 2016 it voted for Donald Trump two-to-one over Hillary Clinton. If such a deep red state really does vote convincingly for full marijuana legalization, I think the prospects for federal reforms get a lot brighter no matter who is in charge at the federal level after this election.
September 22, 2020 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
The title of this post is the title of this great new report, available via SSRN, authored by colleagues of mine at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Jana Hrdinova, Stephen J. Post and Dexter Ridgway. Here is its abstract:
Medical marijuana became legal in Ohio on September 8, 2016 when House Bill 523 (HB 523) became effective. This bill created the framework for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP), and the architects of HB 523 promised the program would be “fully operational” within two years. But as of July 15th, 2020, the OMMCP was still not fully operational, creating concerns around persistent delays and the overall functionality of the program.
After a year and a half of partially operating, the OMMCP continues its slow rollout. With possible future marijuana reforms on the horizon, the perceived effectiveness and success of the current system among Ohioans may shape the long-term future of the program. To our knowledge, the Harm Reduction Ohio (HRO) report1 released in September 2019 was the first concerted effort to survey patients and potential patients to evaluate their experiences and satisfaction with the OMMCP to date. This report looks at how people potentially impacted by the OMMCP perceive its performance and whether there have been changes in their satisfaction levels as compared to last year’s survey data. Our updated survey allows for a new examination into the efficacy of the structure of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program and how this state’s initial experience with marijuana reform can inform the larger national conversations currently underway.
Monday, July 13, 2020
The Dayton Daily News has this interesting new piece on Ohio's medical marijuana program under the headline "$133M of medical pot sold in 1st year as pandemic legitimized industry." Here are excerpts:
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the state’s economy, but those in the medical marijuana industry say the virus legitimized the fledgling program in Ohio. The medical marijuana program, which is run by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the Commerce Department, was fully functional in April 2019. Sales have significantly increased over the past year.
In May of last year, about $2.2 million and about 300 pounds of medical marijuana product was sold in the state of product has been sold, according to data from the Ohio Department of Commerce. Medical marijuana sales in Ohio then jumped from $7.7 million this past February to $12.9 million in March — more than 1,500 pounds, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce. About $10.9 million of medical marijuana product was sold in April.
As of June 14, the most recent data available, a total of $133.9 million and 16,225 pounds of medical marijuana product has been sold since the program started.
The state has collected about $3.8 million in sales tax on the medical marijuana program from July 2019 to March 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. The state of Ohio’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.Permissive sales tax collected statewide in that time was $942,673, the Department of Taxation said. Permissive sales tax is collected by local entities, like the county and regional transit authority. The state wouldn’t release county-by-county sales tax data. Larry Pegram is the president of Pure Ohio Wellness.... Dispensaries were deemed essential during the statewide coronavirus shut down issued in March and lasting through May. That was huge for the medical marijuana industry, Pegram said.“That legitimized the whole program,” Pegram said. “This has become more acceptable, people are now seeing it more as an alternative medicine. ”Medical marijuana sales have increased every month the dispensaries have been open, Pegram said. There are now 51 dispensaries operating in Ohio. Six more dispensaries have provisional licenses and are working toward opening in the state.
When the pandemic first started, Pegram said people rushed to get product. But when dispensaries were deemed essential, sales settled down a bit. “It was scary at first, I think for everyone,” Pegram said. “But we realized we needed to stay open for our patients. For some of them, we are their lifeline.”...
More than 109,000 Ohioans are registered medical marijuana patients as of May 31, the most recent data available. In May of last year, 35,162 Ohioans were registered patients. About 7% of those patients are veterans. More than 600 of Ohio’s medical marijuana patients have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Many Pure Ohio Wellness patients are seniors who use medical marijuana for pain management, Pegram said.
Licensed dispensaries reported about 81,200 unique patients who purchased medical marijuana as of May 31, according to the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System. In May 2019, about 20,000 unique patients purchased medical marijuana.Ohioans can get a doctor’s order to use medical marijuana if they have one of the qualifying conditions, including chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy, fibromyalgia or HIV/AIDS.Gould said he believes the Ohio Medical Board should add anxiety, autism and opioid withdrawl to the approved list of conditions.