Saturday, July 8, 2023
I am excited to continue to be able to post the latest papers from the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. In so doing, it is such a pleasure to get to review and highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates on so many important and cutting-edge topics. The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Mac Patrick who is a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Here is its abstract:
Cannabis legalization continues to be placed on the ballot. One way in which the legislation is passed is through voter initiatives and public referendums, whereby voters can use their voices to directly enact popular legislation. Yet, those voices have been silenced by the use of political manipulation to keep cannabis off the ballot or to invalidate laws once passed. This type of political manipulation has been utilized since cannabis legislation was first introduced and the consequences are long-standing. This paper explores the history of direct democracy, which states have experienced this democratic crisis, how a reduction in popular democracy may further damage the state and federal governments’ relationships with its constituents, and what solutions may be possible.
Saturday, July 1, 2023
The title of this post is the title of this new Forbes commentary by Will Yakowicz that provides an astute review of justice some of the reasons not to be very bullish about federal cannabis reform. I recommend the piece in full, and here are a few excerpts:
Marijuana is still illegal federally for a very simple reason. “Politicians just don't really care,” says Paul Armentano, the deputy director of nonprofit legalization advocacy group NORML. “It's just not on their priority list. If it were, they would address it. They don't because it isn't. It’s simple stuff.”
Over the last 30 years, 23 states have legalized recreational use and 38 now allow some form of medical marijuana, but the Senate has never held a single vote on legislation to decriminalize — or legalize — cannabis, despite the fact that some 88% of the American public believe it should be legal.
As for President Biden’s request for HHS to review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I narcotic, Armentano says he’s been through multiple re-scheduling petitions, which have all been denied by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA has final approval over any rescheduling petition.
It gets more bureaucratically tangled from there. One of the key benchmarks marijuana must pass is whether it has recognized medical use in the United States. The only acceptable definition of medical utility in the U.S., according to the federal government, is approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “That's the federal government's position: no medical utility absent FDA approval,” Armentano says. “There's not going to be FDA approval of cannabis, at least not botanical raw plant cannabis.”
Friday, June 23, 2023
"Collisions and cannabis: Measuring the effect of recreational marijuana legalization on traffic crashes in Washington State"
The title of this post is the title of this notable new research authored by Annie Voy and just published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention. Here is its abstract:
Washington State was among the first states in the US to legalize recreational consumption and retail sales of marijuana. Recreational use of cannabis was legalized December 6, 2012, following the passage of Initiative 502 30 days prior. Roughly 19 months later the first retail cannabis stores opened their doors for public sales (“commercialization”). I measure the impact of cannabis legalization and commercialization on traffic collisions in Washington State.
With county-level vehicle crash data from the Washington State Department of Transportation collected monthly, I utilize an interrupted time-series framework with Poisson estimation to compare traffic collisions with recreational retail cannabis sales revenue from 2011 (three years pre-commercialization) through 2017 (three years post-commercialization). First, I measure the shift in collisions brought about by Washington’s 2012 cannabis legalization. Then, I compare retail cannabis sales — a measure of commercialization — to traffic collisions based on severity of injury (fatal, severe injury, minor injury, non-injury, and all).
After controlling for confounding factors, evidence suggests that recreational cannabis legalization led to fewer fatal and serious injury collisions. Retail cannabis sales generally correlate with more traffic collisions, particularly for less severe (minor injury) crashes. These findings are robust to the inclusion of additional control variables pertaining to county-level cannabis usage and driving behavior while intoxicated.
Cannabis legalization led to fewer fatal, serious, and minor injury collisions. Commercialization (cannabis sales) correlated with an increase in less severe crashes. Although cannabis use generally increased in Washington State following legalization/commercialization, survey data suggest that driving behavior while under the influence of cannabis did not change significantly over the post-commercialization period. Future research should focus on measuring the dose-dependent impact of cannabis consumption on traffic collisions. This should include recognition of the importance of cannabis dosing, timing, and route of consumption. Lastly, the dangers of poly-drug driving — particularly cannabis and alcohol — are well established and should be high priority for further research.
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
I am pleased to spotlight another great Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) event that is part of our summer 2023 Cannabis Regulatory Deep Dive. This event is scheduled for June 22 at 12noon and is titled "Changes in Federal Approaches to Cannabis: Process and Impact" This is how this event is described at this website (where you can register):
In 1971, marijuana was designated as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it “has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” After decades-long efforts by advocates and researchers, President Biden announced in October 2022 that he instructed “the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” In January 2023, the FDA issued a statement saying that a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight required to manage risks. Although these actions illustrate that the federal government is shifting its approach on cannabis, the mechanics of the scheduling review and the implications of such shift are not well understood.
Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and a panel of experts as they discuss the role of other federal agencies in the scheduling review process and the legal implications of marijuana’s status as a controlled substance and the potential impact of rescheduling marijuana or descheduling it entirely. This panel will consider impacts on criminalization, research, medical access, and the medical and adult use cannabis industries currently regulated by states.
Cat Packer, Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation, Drug Policy Alliance
John Hudak, Director of the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy
Robert Mikos, LaRoche Family Chair in Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
Khurshid Khoja, Principal, Greenbridge Corporate Counsel
Fatima Afia, Attorney, Rudick Law Group, PLLC,
Shane Pennington, Partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Patricia Zettler, Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
As federal marijuana reform remains stalled, new coalition formed to advocate for rescheduling under CSA
As many of my students should recall, I have long stressed in many of my marijuana classes that a complicating question in the debates over possible federal reforms concerns whether advocates should prioritize rescheduling or descheduling of marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Most reform advocates certainly have a clear preference for removing marijuana entirely from the CSA (descheduling), which would mean marijuana is treated the same legally as alcohol and tobacco. But rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III or lower would seem to be more politically viable in the short term and would at least soften some of the legal problems created by the current conflict between state marijuana reforms and the drug's federal status.
Though the rescheduling versus descheduling debate has been long simmering, it has gotten some renewed energy since Prez Biden in October 2022 directed his Administration to review the Schedule I status of marijuana under the CSA. In addition, with Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives and perhaps poised to take back control of the US Senate in 2024, robust descheduling marijuana reforms from Congress may not be a realistic possibility for many years to come. Consequently, it perhaps make sense that folks still eager for descheduling would, at least in the short term, now be open to supporting rescheduling.
Against this backdrop, it is not to surprising to see this news from Marijuana Moment under the headline "New Coalition Of Major Marijuana Groups Launches Push For Scheduling Reform, Even If It Falls Short of Legalization." I recommend this lengthy piece in full, as it effectively highlights various aspect of the rescheduling versus descheduling debate. And here is how the story starts:
As federal agencies work to complete a marijuana scheduling review at the president’s direction, a new coalition of major cannabis companies and advocacy organizations has launched, aiming to advance the conversation in a way that embraces the potential benefits of an incremental rescheduling move even as they push for broader legalization.
The Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform (CCSR), which detailed its plans exclusively to Marijuana Moment ahead of an official launch on Tuesday, will be working with advocates, stakeholders, lawmakers and administration officials to promote education about the need to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Unlike other leading advocacy groups focused on full descheduling and legalization, however, its members are also united around the idea that moving cannabis to Schedules III, IV or V of the CSA would represent “historic progress” that shouldn’t be discounted.
But while there’s general agreement that such a move would resolve key federal tax issues for the industry and ease research restrictions, some advocates have cautioned against anything short of complete removal of marijuana from the CSA, insisting that a mere rescheduling would effectively capsize existing state markets and give way to further big business control of the industry.
Friday, June 2, 2023
The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new Missouri Independent article that shows everyone where marijuana revenue is going in the Show Me State. Here are excerpts:
Since Missouri’s marijuana sales began in 2019, the state has collected nearly $100 million in revenue from taxes and program fees, according to state authorities. Etched in the state’s constitution is a road map for where the revenue can go.
The first stop is operational costs. By law, any expense it takes to run both medical and recreational marijuana programs — like salaries or professional services — all must be paid for through marijuana revenues. That means the salaries for cannabis inspectors will never compete with that of school teachers, which come out of the state’s main pot of money, the general revenue fund. The agency that regulates the program, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told the Independent last week that their expenses have been $38.4 million to date....
After expenses, the revenue can go towards supporting veterans, funding drug addiction treatment programs and adding to the Missouri Public Defenders System’s budget.... As of April 30, there was $22.7 million in the state’s medical marijuana fund and $10.9 million in the recreational marijuana fund, according to the state treasurer’s records and DHSS.
Medical marijuana first went on the market in 2019. Since then, the medical marijuana program has brought in $85.2 million in total — $57.7 million has come from fees, including for new license applications and annual license fees, according to DHSS. And $27.4 million has come from sales tax revenue.
The constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in 2018, which appeared on the ballot as Amendment 2, mandated that revenues after operational expenses go towards the Missouri Veterans Commission. So far, $27 million has gone to support veterans....
The revenue road map is a bit different for the adult-use recreational marijuana program, and it’s defined in Amendment 3 that was approved by voters in November. By law, direct revenues first go towards operational costs and then to expenses incurred by the court system for expunging certain marijuana offenses from people’s criminal records. After that, revenues will be split in three ways: Public defenders, drug addiction treatment and veterans.
Since recreational marijuana sales opened in February, the revenue collected is already at $13.8 million, and almost all is from sales taxes, according to DHSS. Marijuana monthly sales in Missouri have tripled since February, but so has the workload for DHSS. For the past two years, DHSS has had 50 full-time employees to regulate the medical marijuana program. The total employees will now be just over 170 employees — 23 for medical marijuana and 148 for recreational, Cox told The Independent.
Between the medical and recreational program, lawmakers appropriated about $32 million for operational expenses. That’s a little more than double what it’s appropriated in past years. However, DHSS has yet to ever use the full appropriated amount, though there was plenty in the fund to cover it, according to budget documents. In the fiscal year 2020, lawmakers appropriated $13.5 million for DHSS’ personal services, expenses and equipment. But the department only spent $6.3 million. In fiscal year 2021, DHSS was appropriated $13.5 million and spent $9.4 million. In fiscal year 2022, DHSS was appropriated $13.8 million and spent $8.4 million....
This year lawmakers signed off on $4.5 million for state courts to pay their employees overtime or to hire temp workers to complete the massive number of expungements required by law. They approved an additional $2.5 million in a supplemental budget on May 5. After that, $1.3 million was appropriated for each public defenders, treatment programs and veterans. And out of the medical revenues, $13 million will go towards the Veterans Commission again this year, as it did last year.
Sunday, May 21, 2023
As reported in this Fox News piece, "The Minnesota Senate passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state for adults ages 21 and older. The measure, approved early Saturday morning, will now head to Democrat Gov. Tim Walz's desk for signature. He is expected to sign the bill into law." Here are some of the particulars:
Starting August 1, the bill would allow people 21 and older to carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana in public and possess up to 2 pounds at home. These adults could also grow home plants. But possessing more than those limits or selling the product without a state license could result in criminal penalties and civil fines....
Minnesota would become the 23rd state, plus Washington, D.C., to legalize recreational marijuana.
The legislation was approved by the state Senate in a party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor. The state House passed the bill Thursday night with five Republicans joining all but one Democrat in approving the measure.... The House had approved the bill in recent years, but the effort was stalled by a Republican-led Senate. That changed this year when Democrats took control of the chamber.
The bill would also automatically expunge low-level cannabis convictions and set up a board to consider expungement or resentencing of felony crimes. "Starting right away, we will begin the process of expunging tens of thousands of cannabis convictions," House bill sponsor Rep. Zack Stephenson said on Twitter. "But it took 50 years to create all those convictions, and it will take months, even years, to complete this process."
Newly regulated dispensaries, once operational, will be permitted for cultivation, manufacturing and lawful sale of cannabis products, depending on the licenses they are approved for. There will be a 10% gross receipts tax on the products, in addition to existing local and state general sales taxes. Stephenson said in his tweet that he expects it to take up to 18 months before licensed dispensaries would be available to shop in as a new state agency works to set up the legal market.
Thursday, May 18, 2023
"An Equity Action Plan for Marijuana: The Biden Administration’s Opportunity to Advance Equity Through Cannabis Reform"
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Cat Packer now available via SSRN. (Note: Cat is my former student and also is now serving as a Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence with the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at the The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.) Here is its abstract:
This paper examines the Biden Administration’s executive orders on equity, its position on marijuana reform before and after President Biden’s related October 2022 statement, and it's repeated statements acknowledging both cannabis criminalization’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latino communities and marijuana reform as an opportunity to advance equity. Moreover, this paper critiques the omission of marijuana reform within the Biden Administration’s Equity Action Plans and highlights the opportunity for the Biden Administration to use its existing executive orders on equity as a framework to understand and address how marijuana laws and policies create barriers for underserved communities through the development of an equity action plan for marijuana reform.
May 18, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Political perspective on reforms, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
The title of this post is the title of this new original research authored by multiple researchers and just published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics. Here is its abstract:
Objective: To examine whether timing of in utero marijuana exposure independently and negatively impacts fetal growth, and if these effects are global or specific to certain growth parameters.
Study design: The two study groups were marijuana users (N = 109) and a randomly selected control group of biochemically verified non-users (n = 171). Study data were obtained via manual abstraction of electronic medical records.
Results: After control for significant confounders, regression results indicated significant (p < .05) decrease in newborn weight following first trimester marijuana exposure only (−154 g) and following marijuana exposure throughout gestation (−185 g) compared to controls. There were also significant deficits in head circumference following marijuana exposure in the first and second trimester only (−.83 cm) and marijuana exposure throughout pregnancy (−.79 cm) compared to controls. Newborn length was not significantly predicted by marijuana exposure.
Conclusions: Timing of marijuana exposure appears to play a key role in specific fetal growth deficits, with exposure throughout gestation most detrimental. However even first trimester exposure may result in decreased weight. Timing and amount of use could be confounded in this study as those who quit early in pregnancy may have been lighter users than those who continued throughout pregnancy. More research is clearly needed to better understand the role of amount and timing of in utero marijuana exposure in predicting different aspects of fetal growth, however, this study suggests that women should be encouraged to avoid marijuana use at any point in pregnancy.
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
The title of this post is the title of this notable new article in the Journal of Health Economics from multiple authors. Apparently the answer to the question in the title of the article is "no," and here is the article's abstract:
Public health experts caution that legalization of recreational marijuana may normalize smoking and undermine the decades-long achievements of tobacco control policy. However, very little is known about the impact of recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) on adult tobacco use. Using newly available data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) and dynamic difference-in-differences and discrete-time hazard approaches, we find that RML adoption increases prior-month marijuana use among adults ages 18-and-older by 2-percentage-points, driven by an increase in marijuana initiation among prior non-users. However, this increase in adult marijuana use does not extend to tobacco use. Rather, we find that RML adoption is associated with a lagged reduction in electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) use, consistent with the hypothesis that ENDS and marijuana are substitutes. Moreover, auxiliary analyses from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that RML adoption is associated with a reduction in adult cigarette smoking. We conclude that RMLs may generate tobacco-related health benefits.
Monday, May 15, 2023
I was pleased to see that NACDL’s Cannabis Justice Initiative has planned this free online event titled "Marijuana Justice as Social Justice." Here are the basics of the event from the program page:
"Marijuana Justice as Social Justice" will be a conversation between The Honorable Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, and Jason D. Williamson, Attorney, Racial Justice Advocate, and Executive Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law. The event will be moderated by Eric J. Davis, the Felony Trial Division Chief of the Harris County Public Defender's Office in Texas.
While people across the country enjoy regulated and taxed cannabis products, thousands of people, mostly from black and brown communities, continue to suffer in prison for conduct that has been legalized in 21 states and counting. Please join us for a conversation concerning the fight for marijuana justice for those most affected by unjust marijuana criminalization, and two advocates' fight to change these laws and right the wrongs of racially discriminatory marijuana arrests, convictions, and sentences.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Gearing up for US Senate hearing on "Examining Cannabis Banking Challenges of Small Businesses and Workers"
As detailed at this official site, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs has a hearing scheduled for tomorrow morning titled "Examining Cannabis Banking Challenges of Small Businesses and Workers." Among the topics to be discussed is surely to be the SAFE Banking Act, and there are scheduled witnesses who will be supportive and who will be oppositional to this bill. Here are the listed witnesses:
The witnesses on Panel I will be:
- The Honorable Jeff Merkley, United States Senator (D-OR); and
- The Honorable Steve Daines, United States Senator, (R-MT).
The witnesses on Panel II will be:
- Mr. Ademola Oyefeso, International Vice President and Director of Legislative and Political Action Department, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW);
- Ms. Michelle Sullivan, Chief Risk & Compliance Officer, Dama Financial;
- Dr. Kevin Sabet, PhD., President and CEO, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and Fellow, Yale University; and
- Ms. Cat Packer, Vice Chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition.
Some witness written tesimony is already available at the hearing website.
As is so often the case, the folks at Marijuana Moment hav lots of coverage on this topc, and here are links to some of its relevant pieces:
- "Key Senate Committee Officially Schedules Hearing On Marijuana Banking Bill For Next Week"
- "Schumer Says Marijuana Banking Bill Will Go To Senate Floor — With Expungements And ‘Social Justice’ Attached — At NYC Cannabis Rally"
- "American Bankers Association Calls For ‘Swift Passage’ Of Marijuana Banking Bill Ahead Of Senate Committee Hearing"
- "Senate Committee Adds New Witnesses For Marijuana Banking Hearing This Week"
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
As a follow-up to new research (to be discussed in a future post) concerning marijuana enforcement by district attorneys in states that still prohibit recreational marijuana use, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University and the Prosecutors and Politics Project at UNC School of Law is hosting on May 17, 2023, a conversation with a panel of legal experts and academics. You can register for the online event here, and this event page provides some backgrouns along with the scheduled panelists:
Over the last decade, a large number of states have adopted various forms of marijuana reform. To date, 21 states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and 38 have legalized medical marijuana use. While public opinion polls suggest that the vast majority of people support marijuana legalization, less is known about the opinions and policies of prosecuting attorneys in states that have not yet legalized marijuana for any purpose.
Amy Ullrick, Project Manager, Prosecutors and Politics Project, University of North Carolina
Sam Kamin, Professor, Chauncey G. Wilson Memorial Research Chair, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Zachary Price, Eucalyptus Foundation Endowed Chair, University of California College of the Law, San Francisco
Lauren Ouizel, Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law
Carissa Byrne Hessick, Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina
New MPP report calculates states have collected over $15 billion in tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales by end of 2022
Via this Marijuana Moment article, I see that the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has a new report detailing that, from 2014 to 2022, states that have legalized adult-use recreational marijuana sales have together generated more than $15 billion in tax revenue from marijuana sales. This MPP report, titled "Cannabis Tax Revenue in States that Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use," gets started this way:
Legalizing cannabis for adults has been a wise investment. Since 2014 when sales began in Colorado and Washington, legalization policies have provided states a new revenue stream to bolster budgets and fund important services and programs. Through the end of 2022, states have reported a combined total of more than $15 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales. In 2022, legalization states generated more than $3.77 billion in cannabis tax revenue from adult-use sales. In addition to revenue generated for statewide budgets, cities and towns have also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue from local adult-use cannabis taxes.
Twenty-two states have legalized cannabis possession for adults 21 and older. All but two of them — Maryland and Virginia — have also legalized, regulated, and taxed cannabis sales, and Maryland’s governor plans to sign twin bills that are on his desk to do so.
Although cannabis sales have continued to generate billions in annual tax revenue, 2022 marked the first year with a decrease in tax revenues compared to the prior year. Even as new states came online, we saw a slight decrease in total state cannabis tax revenue — from over $3.86 billion in 2021 compared to $3.77 billion in 2022. Prior to 2022, every legalization state had seen annual increases in cannabis tax revenue. In 2022, however, six states with the most mature legalization laws experienced decreases in cannabis tax revenue, while newer legalization states generated more cannabis tax revenue in 2022 than in 2021.
Reasons for declining tax revenue include the widespread availability of intoxicating synthetic cannabinoids made from hemp, which are largely unregulated and not subjected to cannabis excise taxes; lower prices in several states due to oversupply; sales beginning in additional states — reducing demand from visitors in more mature states; consumers having less disposable income due to inflation; and — in California — the state reducing the tax rate to make legal cannabis more competitive. Cannabis businesses also face significant challenges due to ongoing federal prohibition, which drives up costs of rent, banking, and almost everything else, and results in an enormous federal tax burden. Those burdens do not apply to intoxicating cannabinoids derived from hemp.
As Vicente LLP Director of Economics and Research Andrew Livingston explained, 2022’s revenue decreases were “due to a multitude of factors,” and that one of them is likely COVID-related. “While 2022 cannabis taxes are lower in some established markets than they were in 2021, it's important to know how COVID-19 and pandemic initiated lockdown orders increased cannabis demand. People could not spend their money going to concerts, going out to dinner, or vacation travel. So many people increased their consumption of consumer packaged goods. Cannabis was a product that could still be purchased and made the difficulty of staying at home for months on end watching TV shows and movies a bit more enjoyable.”
In every state where cannabis tax revenue decreased in 2022, tax proceeds still outperformed every year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns.
This document reviews each legalization state’s adult-use cannabis tax structure, population, and year-by-year adult-use cannabis tax revenue. States are listed in chronological order, based on when state-legal cannabis sales began, with the most mature markets first. These figures include cannabis excise taxes and states’ standard sales taxes that applied to cannabis. They do not include medical cannabis tax revenue, application and licensing fees paid by cannabis businesses, additional income taxes generated by workers in the cannabis industry, or taxes paid to the federal government.
Saturday, April 22, 2023
As reported in this local article, "Gov. John Carney on Friday said he would let the bills to legalize marijuana and create a recreational industry become law without his signature, standing down from his aversions to recreational weed that put him at odds with his party." Here is more:
Delaware is the 22nd state to legalize recreational marijuana, after a nearly decadeslong fight by advocates and Democrats to enact these policies. Carney, in a statement, said he still believes legalizing weed is “not a step forward.”
“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed,” the governor said in a statement. “And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation. I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.”
Carney said he could not sign these bills due to his concerns about the health consequences recreational marijuana will have on children, as well as roadway safety. Along with House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, the governor is the rare Democrat to not support weed legalization....
Marijuana, in the quantity of personal use, becomes legal starting Sunday. Delawareans will not be able to purchase recreational weed in the First State for at least 16 months. It will still be illegal to consume marijuana in public, and employers are still allowed to have a zero-tolerance policy. Like it has in neighboring states, a Delaware recreational marijuana industry could bring in tens of millions in tax revenue.
The General Assembly in March passed two marijuana-related bills: House Bill 1 legalizes the "personal use quantity" of marijuana, which varies by cannabis form, for people ages 21 and older. This is defined as 1 ounce or less of leaf marijuana, 12 grams or less of concentrated cannabis, or cannabis products containing 750 milligrams or less of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
The second bill, House Bill 2, creates and regulates the recreational marijuana industry in Delaware. Within 16 months of the legislation going into effect, the state will distribute 30 retail licenses through a competitive bidding process. There would be a marijuana control enforcement fee of 15% and 7% of the marijuana tax revenue into a Justice Reinvestment Fund. This money, lawmakers say, will create grants and services that focus on restorative justice and reducing the state’s prison population....
The governor was sent the bills last week, starting a 10-day clock for him to make a decision on the future of the bills. He had three options: sign, veto or do nothing, which would allow it to become law. The governor vetoed a similar legalization bill, resulting in a rare and historic moment for lawmakers: They attempted to override. A successful veto override hasn’t been done since 1977. And it’s rarely attempted.
The Delaware General Assembly has been hesitant to take on the governor, especially when he is a member of their own party. So, despite the attempt last year, many lawmakers who supported the bill acquiesced. Yet this year appeared to be different. The bills sponsor Rep Ed. Osienski, a Newark Democrat, said last week that he had the votes for successful overrides on both bills.
The leading national group opposed to modern marijuana reforms, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), celebrated the 4/20 holiday by releasing this 71-page report titled "Impact Report 2023-2024: Lessons Learned from State Marijuana Legalization." The report starts with this background:
Contrary to federal law, under which the possession and sale of marijuana are illegal (Controlled Substances Act, 1971), several states have legalized the cultivation, commercial sale, and use of marijuana, beginning in 2012. Despite this, dozens of states continue to reject the legalization of marijuana. The vast majority of localities in “legal” states also ban the production and retail sale of marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, although pro-marijuana lobbyists are actively working to undue this.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) compiled publicly available federal and state-level data, reports, investigatory findings, peer-reviewed studies, and government health surveys to assemble this report. We have attempted to be as transparent as possible in our evaluation so as to allow readers to trace our steps and further their own research.
The SAM report thereafter mines an extraordinary amount of data seeking to detail myriad harms from modern marijuana reforms. However, as I have noticed in this past, some of SAM's numbers look a bit hinky. For example, a graphic on page 10 claims that annual marijuana taxes comprised only 0.09% of Colorado's state budget. But this Urban Institute report indicates that Colorado is raising 1.7% of its revenue through marijuana taxes for the same year in the SAM report. (And this report from my own Drug Enforcement and Policy Center had a previous year's tax data from Colorado sources reporting marijuana taxes amounting to 2.08% of total tax revenue.) Similarly, but less serious, on page 6, a graphic claims certain data shows a 1,375% increase, when the data actually show only an increase 1/3 that large.
Though one-sided in the mining of data, this SAM report serves as an impressive collection and presentation of information painting marijuana reform in a poor light. And the report concludes with this recommendation:
Policy makers and the public need real-time data on both the consequences of legalization and related monetary costs. Meanwhile, we should pause future legalization efforts and implement public health measures such as potency caps in places that have legalized. In addition, the industry’s influence on policy should be significantly curtailed. SAM recommends research efforts and data collection focus on the following categories:
1. Emergency room and hospital admissions related to marijuana.
2. Marijuana potency and price trends in the “legal” and illegal markets.
3. School incidents related to marijuana, including studies involving representative datasets.
4. Extent of marijuana advertising toward youth and its impact.
5. Marijuana-related car crashes, including THC levels even when testing positive for alcohol.
6. Mental health effects of marijuana.
7. Admissions to treatment and counseling intervention programs.
8. Cost of implementing legalization from law enforcement to regulators.
9. Cost of mental health and addiction treatment related to increased marijuana use.
10. Cost of needing, but not receiving, treatment.
11. Effect on the market for alcohol and other drugs.
12. Cost to workplace and employers, including impact on employee productivity.
13. Effect on minority communities, including arrests, placement of marijuana establishments, and quality of life indicators.
14. Effect on the environment, including water and power usage.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
The final scheduled presentation during the final week of my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform class is focused on a topic that does not seem to get all that much attention even though it is at the intersection of two topics that get a whole lot of attention. Specifically, this presentation is examining how non-citizens in the US interact with the marijuana industry. Here is how the topic is described by my student (along with background readings):
Foreign nationals and immigrants to the United States participate in the U.S. marijuana industry in many of the same ways as U.S. citizens. Some consume marijuana for medical or recreational reasons, others work for marijuana dispensaries or farms, and others invest in the booming industry. However, unlike U.S. citizens, noncitizens may face serious consequences for engaging in the marijuana industry, regardless of individual state legalization of the drug.
The federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for strict consequences for foreign nationals who participate in the marijuana industry, such as inadmissibility, deportability, and bars to naturalization. And these consequences are unlikely to change with marijuana’s continuing status as a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
From the Congressional Research Service, "Marijuana and Restrictions on Immigration" (2020)
From Christopher P Salas-Wright et al., "Trends in cannabis use among immigrants in the United States, 2002-2017: Evidence from two national surveys" (2019)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Policy Alert: Controlled Substance-Related Activity and Good Moral Character Determinations" (2019)
From ABC News, "Legal immigrants with jobs in the marijuana industry are being denied US citizenship" (2019)
From Politico, "‘Real People That We Care About Are Being Exploited’: Lured with false promises of high pay and decent labor conditions, immigrants are held against their will by outlaw farmers who withhold their wages." (2022)
From Harris Bricken, "Foreign Investment in U.S. Cannabis: A Continuing Love/Hate Relationship" (2020)
Monday, April 17, 2023
Student presentation examines autism as a potential qualifying considition for medical marijuana in Ohio
Among the many virtures of a class on marijuana law and policy, and one reason I have students do presentation on topics of their choice, is the opporutnity to look at some issue with a broad landscape approach and then at related issues with a more refined focus. During what I can hardly believe is the final week of my class, the first student presentation will be exploring medical marijuana programs around the nation. Then, in what is scheduled to be the fourth presentation, a different student will look specificaly at autism as a potential qualifying considition for medical marijuana in the Buckeye State. Here is how the topic is described by my student (along with background readings):
Medical Marijuana has been legalized in Ohio since 2016, however, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remains off of the list of qualifying conditions. ASD is a neurodevelopmental disability which effects three major domains: social interaction, communication, and behavior patterns. As of January 2022, ASD affected 1 in 44 children. House Bill 60 and House Bill 261 aim to expand what conditions qualify for the use of medical marijuana and, specifically, look to add ASD as one of those qualifying conditions.
Currently, 23 states list autism as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use — Ohio is hopeful to be the 24th state. While there are many barriers to the recommendation of medical marijuana for autism, much of the evidence today is anecdotal. Other countries such as Turkey analyzed the relationship between medical marijuana and Autism — the study was described to be a miracle for those with Autism.
Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider et al., "Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy" (2019)
Autisim Science Foundation, "Use of Medical Marijuana"
Peter Hess, "Cannabis and autism, explained"
Serap Bilge & Barış Ekici, "CBD-enriched cannabis for autism spectrum disorder: an experience of a single center in Turkey and reviews of the literature" (2021)
The third student presentation scheduled for my class this week covers yet another important marijuana topic with lots of history, public health issues, and policy concerns all wrapped into package with seemingly significant market appeal. And this description and list of readings from my student is sure to whet appetites for coverage of this signifcant topic:
Edibles, food or drink containing cannabis, have exploded in popularity over the past few decades. Despite their recent boom, they are not a new developement. Edibles have a long and interesting history, with evidence that cannabis has been used in food products for thousands of years. In the modern context, their use is quite common, making edibles the third-largest sector of the cannabis market (after the flower itself and concentrates/cartridges).
Edibles offer several benefits over other methods of cannabis use, but there are also downsides. The amount of THC in a package of edibles is almost always higher than the recommended dose. Additionally, many edibles look and taste like candy or other sweets, leading to increases in child and pet ingestion. There are also many trademark concerns, since many edibles are named and packaged in ways resembling trademarked designs. Despite these issues, there is relatively little regulation of edibles in states that have legalized recreational cannabis. This area is ripe for future legislative action, extending from packaging and labeling requirements to manufacturing and THC content restrictions. There will likely be significant changes to how cannabis law regulates edibles in the future as legislatures move to mitigate certain issues specific to edibles.
Christine Chung, "Consumption of Marijuana Edibles Surges Among Children, Study Finds"
American Addiction Centers, "Marijuana Edibles: Risks, Side Effects & Dangers"
Bobby Hristova, "DAY 40: The ancient history of cannabis edibles"
Kelly Johnson-Arbor, "My Child Ate a Cannabis Edible"
April 17, 2023 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, April 16, 2023
Student presentation exploring how Republicans might tackle marijuana reform from a conservative direction
I always find the poltics of marijuana reform to be interesting and even more dynamic than is often recognized. Consequently, I am excited that the second presentation slated for this week is focused on in this arena. The topic is described by my student this way (along with background readings):
It is no secret that marijuana reform efforts — both medicinally and recreationally — tend to start in blue states with red states lagging behind. Every blue state and almost every purple state has established some sort of medical marijuana program, while around half of red states still have not addressed medical marijuana . Almost every blue state has legalized recreational marijuana, while most red states have not done so. And importantly, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level with Republican members of Congress being the most resistant to a change in policy.
So, are Republicans bound to oppose marijuana reform efforts with no argument in favor? Not necessarily! Several Republican priorities overlap with the priorities of those in the marijuana reform crowd. For example, Republicans tend to oppose an increase in federal power, while marijuana reform advocates support a reduction in federal power over marijuana. Similarly, Republicans support gun rights, while marijuana reform advocates support allowing marijuana users to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Given these overlaps in policy, Republicans have an opportunity to tackle the marijuana issue from a conservative direction — maybe even winning over some support from the marijuana reform crowd. And in doing so, Republicans can ensure the legislative process tempers the excesses of many marijuana reform proposals.
Kyle Jaeger, "Majority Of Kentucky Residents Back Legalizing Marijuana For Any Purpose, Poll Finds As Medical Hearing Approaches," Marijuana Moment (Feb. 2020).
Ted Van Green, "Americans overwhelmingly say marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use," Pew Research Center (Nov. 2022).
Rebecca Rivas, "Marijuana vote divided Missouri social-justice leaders. Can an equity officer be a bridge?," Missouri Independent (Nov. 2022).
Maeve Walsh & Natalie Fahmy, "How marijuana could become legal in Ohio in 2023," NBC4i (Jan. 2023).
United States v Harrison, No. CR-22-00328-PRW (W.D. Okla. Feb. 3, 2023).
Jeffrey Miron, "The Budgetary Effects of Ending Drug Prohibition," CATO Institute (July 2018).