Monday, April 8, 2019
Regular readers will not be surprised to hear I am excited for the first of the last four student presentations planned for this coming week in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar. Of course, I am excited about the work of all my students, but this wee we have a student focused on a topic on which I have done some writing, namely expungement practices. Here is how my student has summarized this topic, along with the background readings she has provided:
States that have chosen to decriminalize or legalize marijuana have, in most places, chosen to enact a specific marijuana expungement scheme within the bill that legalizes marijuana or separately. The expungement schemes offer a way for some to shed the hurtful effects of collateral consequences from a marijuana misdemeanor or felony.
As we come closer to legalizing marijuana on the federal level, the question of how to repair for the harms done by the War on Drugs and how best to expunge records will continue to be visited. The collateral consequences have consequences of their own and the War on Drugs helped fuel mass incarceration and racist policing practices. Robust and broad reforms will be needed to repair for the extensive damage to the criminal justice system, something marijuana legalization isn’t equipped to do wholly on its own. But the current expungement schemes, with filing fees, waiting periods and other hurdles, don’t set a good example as we head toward nationwide legalization.
Links to readings and background materials:
"Federal Collateral Consequences for Marijuana Convictions", Marijuana Policy Project paper explaining some of the federal collateral consequences resulting from marijuana convictions
"Drug offenders in American prisons: The critical distinction between stock and flow", Brookings piece by Jonathan Rothwell highlighting difference between stock and flow of drug prisoners which highlights that there are many more drug convictions than violent offense convictions.
"Why you can’t blame mass incarceration on the war on drugs", Vox article by German Lopez disputing Michelle Alexander’s "drug war" explanation for mass incarceration while explaining why the path to ending mass incarceration is complicated.
“Leveraging Marijuana Reform to Enhance Expungement Practices” by Douglas Berman
Links to Expungement Schemes:
Connecticut Bill - Bill for legalization in state's house judiciary committee
Friday, April 5, 2019
The question in the title of this post was my reaction of this news out of Congress as reported here by Marijuana Moment:
Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and David Joyce (R-OH) filed the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, appearing alongside cosponsors Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) at a press conference. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) filed the Senate version of the bill.... The legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to protect people complying with state legal cannabis laws from federal intervention, and the sponsors are hoping that the bipartisan and bicameral nature of the bill will advance it through the 116th Congress.
“I’ve been working on this for four decades. I could not be more excited,” Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview. While other legislation under consideration such as bills to secure banking access for cannabis businesses or study the benefits of marijuana for veterans are “incremental steps that are going to make a huge difference,” the STATES Act is “a landmark,” he said....
The congressman said it will take some time before the bill gets a full House vote, however. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) recently suggested that the legislation would advance within “weeks,” but Blumenauer said it will “be a battle to get floor time” and he stressed the importance of ensuring that legislators get the chance to voice their concerns and get the answers they need before putting it before the full chamber. “We want to raise the comfort level that people have. We want to do it right,” he said. “There’s no reason that we have to make people feel like they’re crowded or rushed.”...
Asked whether he’d had conversations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) about moving cannabis bills forward this Congress, Blumenauer said there’s been consistent communication between their offices and that the speaker is “very sympathetic” to the issue and “understands the necessity of reform.”
There are 26 initial cosponsors — half Democrats and half Republicans—on the House version. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) are among those supporters. The previous version ended the 115th Congress with 45 cosponsors.
On the Senate side, there are 10 lawmakers initially signed on: Warren and Gardner, along with Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rand Paul (R-KY)....
For the most part, the latest versions of the legislation are identical to the previous Congress’s bills, though there are two exceptions. Previously, there was a provision exempting hemp from the definition of marijuana, but that was removed—presumably because it is no longer needed in light of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized the crop.
The bigger change is that the new version contains a section that requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the “effects of marihuana legalization on traffic safety.” Among other data points, the office would be directed to collect info on “traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries in States that have legalized marihuana use, including whether States are able to accurately evaluate marihuana impairment in those incidents.” A report on those effects would be due one year after the law is enacted.
This article in Roll Call, headlined "Marijuana bill could help Cory Gardner’s re-election chances. Will Senate GOP leaders get behind it?," provides some more insights into the politics in play. Here are excerpts:
The bill’s sponsors are confident the bill can pass — if it comes up for a vote. “If we get it on the floor of the Senate, it passes,” said Gardner. “If we get it on the floor of the House, it passes.”...
Gardner acknowledged the bill will have a harder time in the GOP-controlled Senate than in the Democrat-led House, saying he was working to convince Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham to advance the bill and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to eventually allow it to come to a floor vote. Graham, asked about the bill, said he hadn’t thought about marking it up. “I’m not very excited about it,” the South Carolina Republican said....
Gardner is up for re-election in 2020 in a state that legalized recreational marijuana, and allowing him a legislative win could help the GOP retain control of the Senate. On the other hand, Republican leadership may be loath to give some Democratic co-sponsors running in 2020 — whether for re-election or the presidency — political victories.
If Congress passes the proposal, Gardner said President Donald Trump will sign it. “The president has been very clear to me that he supports our legislation,” Gardner said. “He opposed the actions that were taken by the Attorney General [Jeff Sessions] to reverse the Cole memorandum and believes we have to fix this.” The Cole memorandum is Justice Department guidance against prosecuting federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it.
Thursday, April 4, 2019
In my article, "Leveraging Marijuana Reform to Enhance Expungement Practices," I gave justified credit to work being done at the state and local level in California to ensure marijuana reform is operationalized as a form of criminal justice reform. I am pleased to see this work continuing, especially as described in this news release from the LA DA titled "Los Angeles, San Joaquin County District Attorneys Announce Code for America Partnership to Reduce, Clear Cannabis Convictions." Here is how the release starts:
District Attorneys Jackie Lacey of Los Angeles County and Tori Verber Salazar of San Joaquin County joined with Code for America today to announce a cutting-edge, criminal justice reform partnership to automatically clear more than 50,000 eligible cannabis convictions under Proposition 64.
The two counties are among the first in California to take part in Code for America’s pilot program that proactively identifies convictions that qualify for resentencing or dismissal under the voter-approved initiative in November 2016.
“We have partnered with Code for America to take on this monumental effort in the state’s most populous county,” District Attorney Lacey said. “As technology advances and the criminal justice system evolves, we as prosecutors must do our part to pursue innovative justice procedures on behalf of our constituents. This collaboration will improve people’s lives by erasing the mistakes of their past and hopefully lead them on a path to a better future. Helping to clear that path by reducing or dismissing cannabis convictions can result in someone securing a job or benefitting from other programs that may have been unavailable to them in the past. We are grateful to Code for America for bringing its technology to our office.”
“The war on drugs led to decades-long racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests and convictions,” said Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We have a responsibility to right these wrongs by utilizing the latest innovations in technology, such as Code for America’s Clear My Record initiative, to ensure that people who have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs get the second chance they deserve.”
“Since the passage of Propositions 47 and 64, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the Public Defender’s Office and the Superior Court, have worked collaboratively to successfully implement the law in a timely and efficient manner,” said San Joaquin County Public Defender Miriam Lyell in joint statement with District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “We have seen firsthand the capabilities of the Clear My Record tool to facilitate the record clearing process and provide a much-needed service to our community, restoring families along with tremendous cost savings to the People of the State of California. This powerful tool represents the best of public-private partnerships: harnessing the power of technology to create new pathways of opportunity for members of our community with convictions.”
“In the digital age, automatic record clearance is just common sense,” said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America. “Thanks to the leadership of District Attorneys Lacey and Salazar, we’ve shown how records clearance can and should be done everywhere. When we do this right, we show that government can make good on its promises, especially for the hundreds of thousands who have been denied jobs, housing and other opportunities despite the passage of laws intended to provide relief. Clear My Record changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the state and the nation.”
Both offices have been working with Code for America since July 2018 to develop a system that examines cannabis convictions. There is estimated to be approximately 50,000 eligible convictions in Los Angeles County. There are an additional 4,000 eligible convictions in San Joaquin County.
Recognizing that California’s record clearance process was not designed for the digital age, this historic partnership demonstrates a growing momentum for technology-assisted record clearance in California. It builds on last month’s announcement that Code for America’s Clear My Record technology helped San Francisco dismiss and seal more than 8,000 cannabis convictions.
The references to Code for America’s work in San Francisco is both timely and a bit dated. I say that because of this recent tweet by the SF DA:
9,361 marijuana convictions-every single one since 1975 that is eligible pursuant to #Prop64-have officially been dismissed and sealed. Here’s the official court order. #SignedSealedDelivered pic.twitter.com/Kjg0SEfC5h— George Gascón (@GeorgeGascon) April 3, 2019
April 4, 2019 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
The last of four exciting presentations planned this week for my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar concerns the intersection of marijuana use and religion claims. Here is how my student describes her project along with her selected background reading:
Since its founding, religious freedom has remained a core value of the United States. Recently, small groups of individuals have tried to apply this core value to the use of cannabis, specifically with establishing “cannabis churches.” These churches offer congregants a space to come together as a community and consume cannabis as a way to experience a new level of spirituality. Cannabis churches have popped up in both states where recreational consumption is legal (in Colorado, for example) and in states where recreational consumption is illegal (Indiana).
In Colorado, the founders of the International Church of Cannabis have been charged with public consumption. In Indiana, the founder of the First Church of Cannabis asserts that his church is protected under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. As more cannabis churches are established in other states, the main question that church founders will need to answer is whether the use of cannabis is a sincerely held religious belief deserving of protection.
Monday, April 1, 2019
The title of this post is the title of a presentation to be made by one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming week. Here is part of his explanation of his topic and links to some background reading:
The cannabis industry has been growing rapidly and has become more mainstream. In 2018, New Frontier Data forecasted that the legal U.S. cannabis market ― worth an estimated $8.3 billion in 2017 ― would grow to almost $25 billion by 2025. While many innovators of the cannabis industry are heavily focused on the business activities to get the company off the ground by dealing with cannabis-specific challenges such as marketing, financing, and differentiations. However, it is also critical to evaluate the significance of intellectual property (IP) and the benefits it can provide.
As with any other new ventures, enforcing an IP protection strategy early on can maximize the profits of a new invention and minimize the risk of potential infringement. However, there are some challenges because cannabis (or at least THC) is still illegal under federal law. My paper will focus on elucidating the IP issues and challenges in a budding cannabis industry. Further, I will discuss some factors and complexities to secure IP rights on cannabis-related inventions.
The question in the title of this post is the headline given to this Connecticut public radio show which aired today. I am very grateful to Professor Jenny Roberts, who was part of the show, for sending me the link to the show and also for providing this summary:
As you may know, Connecticut's proposed bill has some really interesting social justice/equity provisions – not only with expungement, but also with who will actually get the licenses in Connecticut. The show also explored issues of how those affected negatively by drug laws over the years might now get funding, etc, to start a marijuana business. State Sen. Gary Winfield, who is sponsoring part of the legislation, is on the whole time and well worth a listen, and a Boston Globe journalist joined for one segment on the Massachusetts social equity situation.
Here is how the show's website describes the 50-minute segment:
With recreational marijuana on sale in Massachusetts, Connecticut lawmakers are looking at legalizing recreational cannabis more seriously than ever. Meanwhile, research continues to show that the enforcement of drug laws in recent decades has disproportionately impacted communities of color. This hour, we ask: if Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana, can it do so in a way that corrects some of this history of discriminatory enforcement?
We talk with Judiciary co-Chair Senator Gary Winfield, who is calling for putting equity at the front of legalization efforts. And we check in about how racial justice has — or hasn’t — come along with legalization in states that already have legal weed, from Massachusetts to California.
April 1, 2019 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, March 31, 2019
The second of four student presentation this coming week in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar will focus on federal scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act and the research and market realities impacted by the placement of marijuana in Schedule I. Here is how my student has summarized his topic, along with the background readings he has provided:
The placement of cannabis in Schedule I practically prevents comprehensive and meaningful research into its medical applications and potential harms. The federal government cites cannabis' placement in Schedule I as the reason rigorous research must be conducted before it can be rescheduled, but places restrictions on its research, because of its schedule, that are nearly impossible to overcome. Is there an alternative pathway to federal cannabis legalization, or at least rescheduling, so that more meaningful research can be conducted?
My presentation will examine U.S. drug scheduling, looking at the criteria and examples of substances in each schedule. I will then provide an overview of the FDA research model by which new drugs come to market, contrast it with the type of research conducted on cannabis, and discuss why meaningful, rigorous research into cannabis is so difficult. With this background, I will discuss the findings of a former UK drug-policy adviser that suggests substantial rescheduling is necessary, and how these findings helped initiate research into other Schedule I drugs. Finally, I will provide an overview of research into other Schedule I substances, particularly psychedelics, and how this research may accelerate the rescheduling or federal legalization of cannabis so that its impact on health may be studied more effectively.
March 31, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are continuing with in-class presentations and continuing to cover diverse subject matter in consistently impressive ways. The first of four presentations scheduled for this coming week will take a foray in to pop culture. Here is how my student has summarized her topic, along with the background readings she has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):
From the jazz musicians in the 40s, the Beat authors in the 50s, rock and roll in the 60s, and rap in the 80s to present, popular culture has slowly changed the public perception of recreational marijuana use and paved the way for legalization. My paper will focus on the influence of hip hop, gangsta rap, and Snoop Dogg on modern legalization efforts and cannabusiness. Dr. Dre's 1992 album "The Chronic" launched Snoop Dogg's career and is commonly regarded as not only the best rap album of all time but one of the best albums in any genre. After featuring heavily on "The Chronic," Snoop Dogg sold over 30 million of his own albums world-wide (46.35% of Snoop’s songs are about marijuana), became a cultural icon inextricably associated with marijuana use, and launched a multitude of business ventures in the legal marijuana space.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
A set of students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are taking a deep dive into state medical marijuana programs this coming week. Here is how they explain their planned presentation and links to some background reading:
For our presentation, we analyzed each state’s medical marijuana programs to determine ease of accessibility for patients. We studied each state’s medical marijuana program and compared variables such as cost of registration, reciprocity, approved conditions, and many others. Through our research, we discovered that there is wide spectrum of accessibility among the states which have legalized medical marijuana. More specifically, we concluded that the top 5 easiest states to obtain a medical marijuana card are California, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, and Nevada. Additionally, we concluded that the hardest states (among those which have legalized it) to access medical marijuana are Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah.
Next, we sought to determine if there was any correlation between the states that had easier/hardest accessibility with when those states ratified and abolished prohibition. Our hypothesis was that the states with the laxer medical marijuana laws would be the ones that repealed prohibition sooner than those with the harsher medical marijuana laws. Generally, we found that that states that ratified the 21st Amendment sooner seemed to have laxer medical marijuana laws and the states with the harsher laws repealed prohibition later on. Also, side note, Oklahoma didn’t even repeal prohibition until 1959!
March 27, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, History of Alcohol Prohibition and Temperance Movements, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Minority Cannabis Business Association engages OSU College of Law 3L Chris Nani to evaluate social equity efforts in Los Angeles
I am always so very excited when students here at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law get so very excited about marijuana law and policy. One such student whose work I have spotlighted here is Christopher Nani, who took my marijuana seminar back in Fall 2017 and has been doing amazing work in this space ever since. In addition to getting articles published at the Cannabis Law Report discussing federal tax treatment of cannabis businesses (see prior posts here and here) and co-hosting a podcast focused on business development in the cannabis industry (called Cannabiz with Canna-Chris), Chris has produced this notable article detailing a "Model Social Equity Equation for the Cannabis Industry."
I describe Chris' article as notable in part because the Minority Cannabis Business Association took note of the work, and MCBA has now engaged Chris to use his equation to "score" Los Angeles. This press release, titled "MCBA Engages in Case Study to Rate Efficacy of Los Angeles’ Social Equity Program," explains:
The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) announced plans to take a score of social equity policies implemented by the city of Los Angeles intended to increase diversity in the burgeoning cannabis industry. Partnering with the MCBA on this effort is Chris Nani, an Ohio State Law student who recently released a similar study that focused on these equity policies in three other California cities.
The results of Nani’s preliminary study had outcomes for Sacramento, San Francisco and even the much-lauded Oakland program that didn’t fully meet the intent of those policies, and underlines the necessity of reassessment once these programs have been implemented. As one of the largest markets in California, Los Angeles is an important influencer in the industry and will serve as an example for future efforts on this topic.
“We are excited to see municipalities across the country starting to implement social equity programs as a way to reinvest in communities that for decades have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” says Kayvan Khalatbari, MCBA’s Board Chair. “Now we need to ensure their intended outcomes are being met. If they’re not, we need to reexamine those policies and work on them until we get it right. We must develop an effective and repeatable model.”
The case study will utilize an “Equity Equation”, which provides a scored assessment to rate the effectiveness of municipal social equity programs based on 10 separate factors, all of which have been determined to play a major role in the ultimate success or failure of these policies. One factor commonly cited as a barrier to entry for people of color to find a place in the cannabis industry, regardless of policies in place, is a lack of available capital.
“Social equity programs are an important progression for the cannabis industry,” says Chris Nani. “As new markets come online and use Los Angeles as a model in their own programming, it’s critical that we understand what is working and what is not. The equation I developed is meant to grade the efficacy of these programs and offer suggestions for improvement. I look forward to working with lawmakers, social equity applicants and MCBA to work towards improving these policies across the country.”
March 27, 2019 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
There is so much talk and so many stories about CBD, I know I can barely scratch the surface on this topic. But it seems this past week I have seen an especially notable number of notable stories on this front. Below I provide a partial round-up, and suggested particular attention to the first linked piece for its science and thoughtfulness:
From Politico, "Flood of products containing marijuana extract puts FDA in a bind"
From Rolling Stone, "CBD Expected to Have Explosive Growth In European Union"
From CNN, "Suddenly, CBD is everywhere. Here's what's next"
From NBC News, "CVS to sell CBD products in 800 stores in 8 states"
From CNBC, "Walgreens to sell CBD products in 1,500 stores"
March 27, 2019 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, March 25, 2019
New Jersey shows, yet again, the challenges of marijuana legalization done via the traditional legislative process
Full adult-use marijuana legalization has a strong winning record when the issue has been taken directly to voters via ballot initiative. This reform has proven much more difficult through the traditional legislative process, with only Vermont able to pass a limited (non-commercialized) version of reform this way. Today, after lots of debate in the state, New Jersey proved yet again how challenging this can be as detailed in this local story headlined "Legal weed won’t happen right now in N.J. Lawmakers call off big vote." Here are the basics:
Leaders of the state Legislature have canceled a planned vote Monday on a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in New Jersey, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney is set to announce.
“While we are all disappointed that we did not secure enough votes to ensure legislative approval of the adult use cannabis bill today, we made substantial progress on a plan that would make significant changes in social policy,” Sweeney, New Jersey’s top state lawmaker, said in a statement provided to NJ Advance Media. Sweeney. D-Gloucester, added that the “fight is not over.”
It’s expected that lawmakers will schedule another vote this year, but it’s unclear when that will happen. “We need to learn from this experience and continue to move forward,” Sweeney said." While this legislation is not advancing today, I remain committed to its passage.”
The vote fell apart after Gov. Phil Murphy and fellow Democratic state leaders spent more than a week feverishly trying to wrangle enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass the Democratic-sponsored measure. But top lawmakers said they wouldn’t hold the vote if they weren’t guaranteed to have both the 21 votes they need in the state Senate and the 41 they need in the state Assembly. As of Monday afternoon, multiple sources said, there were only 17 or 18 members of the Senate who would vote yes. But that still left leaders a few votes short....
Sweeney said earlier this year said he wouldn’t schedule another vote until after the November elections at the earliest. If they can’t get enough votes by then, it’s possible leaders could opt for asking New Jersey voters to decide in a ballot referendum next year whether to legalize weed.
The crumbling of Monday’s vote is a tough pill for Murphy, who made legalizing marijuana a key plank in his platform when he won election in 2017. He and top Democratic lawmakers have been hoping for more than a year to have New Jersey join 10 other states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized pot. But they prefer to become only the second state to do it legislatively, rather than through a ballot referendum.
Monday’s development also postpones two other measures tied to the bill: one that would expand the state’s oft-criticized medial marijuana program and another that would expunge thousands of pot convictions in the state. Murphy has said his administration will now move to dramatically increase the number of licenses for cultivators of medical marijuana as a backup plan.
Murphy and proponents of legal pot say the goal of legalization is to increase tax revenue for the state, create a brand new industry, and improve social justice because black people are three times more likely to be arrested on pot charges than whites. Recent polls have found a majority of New Jerseyans support legal pot. But many lawmakers — Democratic and Republican — have been leery, saying it could erode public safety, lead people to try more dangerous drugs, and damage communities of color.
March 25, 2019 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
"The Effect of Marijuana Use on American Veterans with PTSD, and How the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Ought to Respond"
The title of this post is the title of a presentation to be made by one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming week. Here is part of his explanation of his topic and links to some background reading:
Because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is required to follow all federal laws, the VA is prohibited from prescribing, recommending, or assisting veterans in obtaining marijuana. While veterans may discuss marijuana use with VA providers, VA doctors cannot help their patients participate in a state medical marijuana program and veterans cannot obtain reimbursement funding through the VA when they seek medical marijuana from state programs.
The inability of the VA to prescribe or recommend marijuana to American veterans with PTSD denies former service members an opportunity to receive treatment that many veterans not only want, but which also has the potential to be safer than the VA’s history of doling out addictive prescription drugs such as opioids, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety pills. PTSD is a serious disease that is relatively common among combat veterans — it causes varying symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thought about a triggering event.
The medical research in this arena has reached mixed findings. While some researchers have found that the use of medical marijuana by veterans with PTSD has positive results, other studies suggest that marijuana use by those with PTSD may actually make symptoms worse. There simply has not been enough controlled studies to conclusively state whether marijuana is beneficial for those with PTSD. Nonetheless, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence by veterans suggesting that their use of marijuana has improved, or in some cases eliminated, symptoms associated with their PTSD. Fortunately, the first clinical trial of marijuana for American veterans with PTSD is currently underway in Colorado. My presentation will suggest that we need more controlled clinical trials such as this to further identify whether marijuana could (or should) truly be used as a remedy for veterans with PTSD.
* Medical journal article, "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" (discussing what PTSD is and various treatment options, including cannabis).
* Medical journal article, "Use and effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder"(reviewing several studies and noting that while there is a need for more randomized and controlled studies, some PTSD patients report benefits in terms of reduced anxiety and insomnia and improved coping ability).
* Medical journal article, "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Cannabis Use Characteristics among Military Veterans with Cannabis Dependence" (exploring the negative effects of treating PTSD with marijuana and finding that individuals with PTSD may have a particularly difficult experience when attempting to quit marijuana).
* Medical journal article, "Marijuana and other cannabinoids as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A literature review" (explaining that conclusions cannot yet be drawn about the therapeutic effects of marijuana and related cannabinoids for PTSD; suggesting that rapidly changing legal landscape will permit promising clinical research).
* Medical journal article, "A review of medical marijuana for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: Real symptom re-leaf or just high hopes?" (finding some positive data for use of marijuana for PTSD but also noting conflicting findings and limits of studies conducted thus far).
* Report on study, "Marijuana for Symptoms of PTSD in U.S. Veterans" (first clinical trial of marijuana for PTSD in American veterans underway).
* Recent Weedmaps article, "Marijuana Study Findings Could Hold Promise for Veterans With PTSD" (noting that MAPS study mentioned above could pave the way toward an FDA-approved prescription medicine; anecdotal evidence of veteran using black market rather than expensive medical marijuana program in CA)
March 25, 2019 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, March 24, 2019
The title of this post is the title of a presentation to be made by one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming week. Here is part of his explanation of his topic and links to some background reading:
I will be looking at the prevalence (and in some cases, the dominance) of the black market for marijuana in jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana. I will specifically be looking at states that have legalized recreational use. However, I may still look at states that have only legalized medical marijuana because the black market still dominates in many of those states as well.
A major argument for marijuana legalization is potential revenue, but the black market can steal a significant amount of revenue from states. Additionally, the existence of a black market is detrimental to public health and safety for a variety of reasons, including the distribution of potentially laced products.
At first, I was surprised by just how dominant the black market remains in states that have legalized. For example, in California the black market is estimated to be worth 4 times the legal market. But consider major reasons why consumers choose to purchase cannabis products from the black market:
- The black market offers much cheaper weed with no sin taxes;
- The black market is able to sell higher potencies of marijuana;
- The black market is able to sell larger amounts of marijuana;
- The black market is oftentimes much more convenient.
Another reason people choose the black market is because they are familiar with it. Someone who has had a dealer for years is not all of a sudden going to switch to buying from a legal source. Additionally, the black market (generally) has no age restrictions, so the black market still exists for minors who wish to use marijuana products.
I also plan on talking about the regulations on legal cannabis providers and how those contribute to the struggle to subdue the black market (ex: marketing, banking, barriers to entry, supply problems, lax enforcement of black market). Finally, although I recognize that wholly eliminating the black market is infeasible, I will analyze potential solutions to the problem, such as deregulating (decreasing barriers to entry, lowering the age restriction, increasing enforcement, increasing strength of legal products, etc.) and working with the black market dealers.
"Can a marijuana dispensary’s budget pot put illegal dealers out of business?" (discussing Nevada’s lower cost product dubbed the Black Market Killer)
"Marijuana Black Market ‘Business Has Never Been Better’ In Canada Despite Legalization, Cannabis CEO Warns" (discussing Canada’s struggle with the black market)
"'I deliver to your house': pot dealers on why legalization won't kill the black market" (interview with two black market dealers in Canada)
"How marijuana entrepreneurs can outsmart black-market competitors" (discussing ways to possibly beat the black market)
"California’s black market for pot is stifling legal sales. Now the governor wants to step up enforcement" (discussing California’s black market)
"Marijuana Advertising Rules Challenge California Businesses" (discussing marketing regulations (including <30% of Minors Rule)
Friday, March 22, 2019
As mentioned in prior posts, my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is now deep into the student presentation unit, and we will have four presentations each week in coming weeks and thus lots of great student-assembled content here on the blog The first presentation for next week will focus on updating employment policies, and here is how my student has summarized his topic, along with the background readings he has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):
As more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses, the business community must acknowledge that larger portions of the American public will consume marijuana. Consequently, the labor market now includes more marijuana users than ever before. The zero-tolerance drug policies that employers use to discourage marijuana consumption are driving labor shortages throughout corporate America. To remain competitive and recruit the next generation of talented employees, Fortune 500 companies should revise their drug policies to permit off-duty marijuana use. Efforts to reform workplace drug policies should consider the labyrinth of federal and state laws that require certain employers to test for marijuana. Provided that corporate employers include exceptions for these rules, workplace drug policies will remain legally compliant.
Lisa Nagele-Piazza, How Do Recreational Marijuana Laws Affect the Workplace?, Society for Human Resource Management (Jan. 17, 2018).
Roy Maurer, Employers in This State Can’t Reject Job Applicants ‘Solely’ for Smoking Pot, Society For Human Resource Management (February 16, 2018) .
Judy Stone, The Sham Of Drug Testing For Benefits: Walker, Scott And Political Pandering, Forbes (Feb. 17, 2015).
Nelson D. Schwartz, Economy Needs Workers, but Drug Tests Take a Toll, N.Y. Times (July 2017).
Federal Laws and Regulations, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Nov. 2, 2015).
Spotlighting "a hazy cannabis stalemate" after Baltimore State’s Attorney says she will stop prosecuting these cases and police resist change
This new CityLab article by Ethan McLeod reports on the notable state of marijuana affairs in the city of Baltimore. The Full headline and subheadline provides the basics: "For Weed Arrests in Baltimore, It’s Catch-and-Release Season: Baltimore prosecutors won’t charge people for marijuana possession, but police are still making arrests. Result: a hazy cannabis stalemate." Here is an excerpt from the story, with links from the original:
Mosby’s move added Baltimore to a growing list of cities where prosecutors are dropping cannabis offenses en masse and moving to purge thousands of conviction and charges. From New York to Philadelphia to Houston to St. Louis and elsewhere, these efforts share a common goal: Reduce enforcement of drug laws proven to largely target African Americans, and free up resources for prosecutors and cops to focus on more serious crimes.
In most cities, district and state’s attorneys are pursuing these reforms with the cooperation—albeit sometimes grudging—of police and city leaders. Even if they lack enthusiastic endorsements from police, they’re already working with officials and police departments that have instructed officers to hand out tickets or criminal summonses in lieu of arrests for possession (often of around an ounce).
But not in Baltimore. Here, police have pledged to keep following the letter of the law, which states that possessing anywhere from 10 grams to 50 pounds of cannabis is a misdemeanor statewide—and using cannabis arrests as a means to an end. “Arresting people for marijuana possession is an infrequently used, but sometimes important, law enforcement tool as we focus on violent crime and violent criminals in Baltimore,” BPD’s chief spokesman Matt Jablow said in an emailed statement.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh isn’t on board with the policy, either: She’s said that she supports the principle behind Mosby’s move, but that “those who deal illegal substances fuel criminality in our neighborhoods which leads to violence.” Pugh called on prosecutors and police to craft a singular approach to possession, but has been silent on advocates’ subsequent calls to push BPD to cease arrests.
All this is happening in a city whose struggles with corruption and violent crime have made it the focus of growing national attention. The city also has a new police commissioner, former New Orleans police superintendent Michael Harrison. He recently told city council members he’s met with Mosby about their conflicting policies and insisted that the BPD has been de-prioritizing possession arrests since decriminalization of up to 10 grams took effect in 2014. (Arrest data, however, shows hundreds are still being arrested annually, almost all of them black, and the same pattern goes for citations.)
“Our policies align with the law, and the law didn’t change,” Harrison told council members. And, he argued, even if possession is nonviolent in nature, “it doesn’t always mean that a person caught with simple possession of marijuana is a nonviolent offender.”
Like other prosecutors charting the cannabis-decriminalization course, including Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner and St. Louis’s Kim Gardner, Mosby has drawn varied criticism for the policy. Defense attorneys have argued that without BPD buy-in, the pledge amounts to “virtue signaling” by Mosby, whose prosecutors can elevate cases to possession with intent to distribute—a crime they’re still pursuing—at their discretion. Vacating and expunging the cases has already proven to be challenging for her office, given that many of them included charges other than possession. Dropping them could have unintended repercussions, as for someone who violated probation because of a weed arrest.
More broadly, Mosby’s policy risks exacerbating the rift that has grown between her and BPD since her high-profile decision to charge six officers in the killing of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died in police custody in April 2015. Three of those officers were acquitted; charges were dropped for the rest. (Mosby’s office did not respond to requests for comment from CityLab.)
Prior related post:
Thursday, March 21, 2019
This Business Insider article, headlined "A record 61% of Americans now want weed to be legalized across the US, with support rising in every age group," report on the latest notable poll numbers concerning marijuana reform. Here are excerpts:
A record 61% of Americans say pot should be legalized, according to the respected General Social Survey. The poll, which has tracked support for legal marijuana since 1973, found that approval reached an all-time high across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations in 2018.
The numbers reflect how attitudes toward the drug are shifting across the nation. While the majority of Americans want the legalization of cannabis now, only 16% did in 1987 and 1990, the years with the joint-lowest support....
Though support grew across all age brackets, it remains the highest among 18- to 34-year-olds, the survey found. More than 70% of young Americans say they want pot to be legal, while only 42% of interviewees over 65 say the same.
Survey takers in the Midwest are most in favor, at 68%. While support was lowest in the South, more than half of respondents there still said marijuana should be legalized.
On the political spectrum, Democrats (69%) and independents (66%) were largely in favor of legalizing weed. Only 42% of Republicans agreed, but support among them has been growing steadily over the years. In 2012, only a third of Republican voters wanted cannabis to be legal.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
"The contribution of cannabis use to variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across Europe (EU-GEI): a multicentre case-control study"
The title of this post is the title of this important new study appearing in The Lancet Psychiatry. Here is its summary:
Cannabis use is associated with increased risk of later psychotic disorder but whether it affects incidence of the disorder remains unclear. We aimed to identify patterns of cannabis use with the strongest effect on odds of psychotic disorder across Europe and explore whether differences in such patterns contribute to variations in the incidence rates of psychotic disorder.
We included patients aged 18–64 years who presented to psychiatric services in 11 sites across Europe and Brazil with first-episode psychosis and recruited controls representative of the local populations. We applied adjusted logistic regression models to the data to estimate which patterns of cannabis use carried the highest odds for psychotic disorder. Using Europe-wide and national data on the expected concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the different types of cannabis available across the sites, we divided the types of cannabis used by participants into two categories: low potency (THC <10%) and high potency (THC ≥10%). Assuming causality, we calculated the population attributable fractions (PAFs) for the patterns of cannabis use associated with the highest odds of psychosis and the correlation between such patterns and the incidence rates for psychotic disorder across the study sites.
Between May 1, 2010, and April 1, 2015, we obtained data from 901 patients with first-episode psychosis across 11 sites and 1237 population controls from those same sites. Daily cannabis use was associated with increased odds of psychotic disorder compared with never users (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 3·2, 95% CI 2·2–4·1), increasing to nearly five-times increased odds for daily use of high-potency types of cannabis (4·8, 2·5–6·3). The PAFs calculated indicated that if high-potency cannabis were no longer available, 12·2% (95% CI 3·0–16·1) of cases of first-episode psychosis could be prevented across the 11 sites, rising to 30·3% (15·2–40·0) in London and 50·3% (27·4–66·0) in Amsterdam. The adjusted incident rates for psychotic disorder were positively correlated with the prevalence in controls across the 11 sites of use of high-potency cannabis (r = 0·7; p=0·0286) and daily use (r = 0·8; p=0·0109).
Differences in frequency of daily cannabis use and in use of high-potency cannabis contributed to the striking variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across the 11 studied sites. Given the increasing availability of high-potency cannabis, this has important implications for public health.
The title of this post is the title of a presentation to be made by one of my students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar this coming week. Here is part of her explanation of her topic and links to some background reading:
Native Americans have a tricky and unique history with cannabis. Indians have always used “teaching plants.” And almost every single ceremonial herb used by Indians has been illegal at some point in the United States: salvia, peyote, mullen, mints, and sage. In particular, cannabis is more controversial, given its growing popularity in the United States by non-Natives. Cannabis is considered a sacred herb in many tribes, but not all tribes. For example, the First Nation tribe uses it in rituals, some tribes claim great visionaries used it with their sacred pipes, and other tribes, such as the Dakota and Lakota tribes, state that their medicine men have never used cannabis as a part of their ceremonies.
There has recently been a rise in "cannabis churches,” with the most controversial church, the Oklevueha Native American Church, leading such controversy. The church was founded by James “Flaming Eagle” Mooney. Mooney claims to have native American ancestry, but does not have any official tribal affiliation. The church is comparable to the fundamentalist mormons: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not condone of affiliate itself with fundamentalist mormons, and the National Council of Native American churches released a statement, advising the public that it does not “condone the activities of the illegitimate organization.” This complicates Indian history, as some tribes may wish to use it as a sacrament, and others use the Oklevueha church as a scapegoat and a reason to ban cannabis on its tribes.
U.S. courts have previously ruled that cannabis being used as a religious sacrament does not give tribes the right to use it. Overall, my goal is to: 1) explain the history of peyote, ayahuasca, and cannabis in Native American culture; 2) describe the use, or lack thereof, of cannabis and how it differs from tribe to tribe; 3) describe the rise of “cannabis churches” generally, with a focus on the Oklevueha Native American Church, and the legal troubles they have faced; 4) the legal argument to allow Indian churches to use cannabis as a sacrament or a ritual herb, and the legal argument to prohibit Indian churches from using cannabis as a sacrament or a ritual herb; and 5) the potential implications which it would have on tribes in the future.
- "Recent Articles Concerning Oklevueha"
- Rolling Stone article: "Are Weed Churches Legitimate Houses of Worship, or Just Another Way Around Marijuana Law?"
- Amici curiae brief filed in 2014 in Ninth Circuit case on behalf of by the Native American church groups (generally discussing the controversy over cannabis and the use of peyote by Indian tribes)
Sunday, March 17, 2019
As mentioned in a prior post, the students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar are back from break and back at presentations on their research topics. The second presentation this week will focus on "on Ohio’s employment law future and will draw inferences from other states’ statutory language and case law to predict how discrimination cases may (or may not) proceed." Here is how my student has summarized her topic, along with the background readings she has provided for classmates (and the rest of us):
In Ohio, the law gives employers discretion to accommodate employees' medical marijuana use or not, and has a provision specifically designed to thwart disability claims from proceeding. It is possible that a court could find that failure to accommodate is not per-se unreasonable, and an Ohio court decision could follow the lead of a in Barbuto and Connecticut court in Noffsinger. This interpretation would require that an employee argue that the Americans with Disabilities Act's carve-out for medications should be used to interpret Ohio's Revised Code § 4112.02, creating a carve-out for legal (under state law) marijuana used as medication under the supervision of a medical professional. Due to fairly clear legislative intent to prevent employment discrimination actions for medical marijuana under Revised Code § 3796.28(5), the more likely path in Ohio is probably the way of Colorado in Coats which allowed an employer to fire a disabled employee for failing a baseline Cannabinoid presence test, regardless of his medical status, as violating employer policy.
Here are some additional background resources:
A Survey of Medical Marijuana Laws Impacting the Workplace by Joseph H. Yastrow
Employers and workers grapple with laws allowing marijuana use by G. M. Filisko
Here are resources more specific to my topic:
Ohio’s medical marijuana employment provision: Revised Code § 3796.28(5)
Ohio's disability anti-discrimination regulation under Code § 4112: OAC § 4112-5-08 Discrimination in the employment of the disabled