Sunday, February 18, 2024

A pitch for how the Buckeye State should plan to use marijuana green

CannabisblogWhen Ohio voters approved full legalization of marijuana in November 2023 through passage of Issue 2, the initiative included a specific tax rate and a defined allocation for marijuana tax revenues.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, as members of the Ohio General Assembly have discussed further marijuana reforms, both the tax rates and allocation of revenues have been a subject of debate. Bailey Williams of Policy Matters Ohio has authored this helpful new blogpost on this topic titled "Cannabis tax revenue can help communities. Legislators have other ideas." I recommend the full piece, and here is an excerpt:

Over two million Ohioans voted to legalize marijuana sales and use tax revenue from those sales to benefit communities where dispensaries are located (called “host communities”), fund substance-abuse research, and create restorative justice programs to remediate some of the harm done by the war on drugs.  Changes by the legislature should focus on regulating the market to ensure product safety or improving the collection and use of tax revenue to redress racial disparities created by the discriminatory enforcement of recreational marijuana prohibition.  Any other changes to the statute risk subverting the will of the voters.

Ohio lawmakers have floated two such changes, both of which should be rejected: Tax revenues from legal marijuana sales should not be used to fund broad rate cuts to the state income tax, nor should they be earmarked for policing.  Either change would divert funding that should be used to help those harmed by the failed war on drugs, and clear the criminal records of Ohioans being punished for actions that are no longer crimes....

The Ohio Senate has already passed changes to state marijuana laws. These changes include raising the tax levied in addition to the state sales tax on legal sales from 10% to 15%; diverting hundreds of millions of dollars away from restorative justice programs and communities that host dispensaries and into policing and jails; tighter restrictions on home growth of marijuana; and piecemeal funding for expungement efforts for marijuana-related offenses that are no longer illegal.

The Ohio House has not yet proposed its version of the changes, but representatives have expressed some priorities.  At least one has proposed using a portion of the tax revenue raised from marijuana sales to finance broad income tax rate cuts.  This policy choice should be rejected now and in the future.  Broad cuts to income tax rates typically result in the wealthiest taxpayers receiving most of the value of the cut....

Similarly ill-conceived is the idea — recommended by members of both chambers and included in the Senate bill — of earmarking marijuana tax revenue specifically for policing.  The Senate would divert over $200 million a year in tax revenue from marijuana sales into investigative unit and drug task force operations, police officer training, and the construction of new jails.  This ignores the fact that Issue 2 already takes into consideration any increase in policing needs that may arise from the end of recreational marijuana prohibition.  Localities that host marijuana dispensaries will receive tax revenue from that business; this revenue can be spent on policing if need be. It also could be used on other public goods, such as parks and public transit.  Communities should be able to decide for themselves how that funding is used....

Clearing criminal records for what is now legal marijuana possession is an important step toward restorative justice.  Issue 2 required and funded research on expungement and record sealing but did nothing to simplify the often cumbersome process.  Ohioans seeking to expunge or seal their marijuana convictions face a waiting period and possible prosecutorial objections, and may be required to pay expensive legal fees and court costs.  They must also prove they are rehabilitated before they can have their records officially expunged.  These Ohioans are often subject to collateral sanctions, which limit an individual’s earning potential and increase the likelihood of recidivism....

When Ohioans overwhelmingly passed Issue 2, we sent a clear message to our representatives in Columbus: Legalize the sale of recreational cannabis, and use the revenue it generates to help the people and communities harmed by the failed war on drugs.  Some representatives appear poised to disregard those explicit instructions — as they have done with increasing frequency.  There are better options available; our representatives should listen to the voters.

February 18, 2024 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 12, 2024

Noting the peer pressure realities around marijuana policy reforms

Ab399ca2-38bb-4973-8707-50369ea566cd_1920x1080A range of research suggests peers can play an important role in influencing substance use behaviors. But this new Marijuana Moment article, headlined "Pennsylvania Governor Says Lawmakers ‘Don’t Even Have A Choice’ But To Legalize Marijuana As Other States Move Ahead," got me to thinking about how state substance use policy reforms can be influenced by peer pressure.  Here is how the article starts:

Pennsylvania’s governor says he thinks officials in the state “don’t even have a choice anymore” on legalizing marijuana, and he feels there’s bipartisan momentum that lawmakers should leverage to get the job done.

With neighboring states such as Ohio enacting legalization in recent years, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) said last week that “this really comes down to an issue now of competitiveness,” as the state is currently “losing out on 250 million bucks a year in revenue that could go to anything from economic development, education, you name it.”

“The reality is, as long as we have safeguards in place to make sure our children aren’t getting their hands on it—it’s just like, we don’t want our kids out drinking, right?” he said. “And a lot of that is going to be a burden on parents and schools and others to make sure we educate on that. Then I think this is something we’ve got to compete on.”

“I actually think we don’t even have a choice anymore given the way in which this is moving so quickly across our region and across the country,” Shapiro told WILK News Radio, adding that he’s personally “evolved on” the issue and wants a legal cannabis market “focused on lifting up Pennsylvania businesses in the process—not these big national conglomerates—and we’re empowering people in local communities to it that I think some good can come from it.”...

“It’s obviously wildly popular across the country and certainly in polling regionally and in the states. So if someone’s going to be against it, I think they’re going to have to justify that to their constituents as well,” he said. “There does seem to be an emerging bipartisan consensus that we’ve got to compete on this issue, and we’ll see if we can get it done. We’re going to work hard.”...

In a separate interview with KDKA News Radio that the governor’s office also promoted last week, Shapiro noted that his office estimates that Pennsylvania could bring in $250 million in tax revenue annually from cannabis sales. “The reality is we are leaving all that money on the table. We are falling behind other states,” he said. “I think it’s another story of us not being as competitive as we need to be, and I think its time has come.”

“It’s time to shut down the black market. It’s time to take the strain off of cops. It’s time to be competitive. And this is a way to do that,” the governor said. “We can’t let Ohio and the other states around us keep eating our lunch on this or any other issue. As I’ve said many times, I’m competitive as hell and this is one of those areas. We’ve got to compete it.” A staffer in Shapiro’s office similarly remarked on the need to legalize marijuana after Ohio voters approved the reform at the ballot last November.

February 12, 2024 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 5, 2024

Marking new era (and new generation) substituting marijuana for alcohol?

When I first started paying attention to marijuana reforms and its potential impacts, I recall a number of public health experts suggesting that greater use of marijuana could end up a public health benefit if marijuana was used as a substitute for alcohol, but greater use would likely be a public health problem if used as a supplement to alcohol.  Against that backdrop, all these new press stories about trends in the start of 2024 seemed worth flagging:

From Bloomberg, "Weed Sales Boom in Dry January as People Drink Less"

From Forbes, "Almost Half Of Those Doing Dry January Use Cannabis — Can It Help You Quit Alcohol?"

From Fortune, "Gen Z’s buyers’ strike on alcohol turns ‘Dry January’ into skyhigh new year"

From Kiplinger, "Dry January Can Boost Weed Sales: This Week in Cannabis Investing"

From Modern Retail, "Cannabis beverage brands capitalized on Dry January interest"

From the New York Times, "What Does Being Sober Mean Today? For Many, Not Full Abstinence."

From Vice, "The Rise of 'Sober But', the Dry January Where You Still Do Drugs"

February 5, 2024 in History of Alcohol Prohibition and Temperance Movements, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 1, 2024

"Mapping Cannabis Social Equity: Understanding How Ohio Compares to Other States' Post-Legalization Policies to Redress Past Harms"

AdobeStock_233601824The title of this post is the title of this terrific new report now available via SSRN and authored by Jana Hrdinova and Dexter Ridgway with the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. This report was inspired by an on-going polict debate in Ohio after voters in the state approved in Fall 2023 a statutory ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. This report should be of interest to folks outside as well as inside of Ohio because it provides a national landscape on varying social equity issues in marijuana legalization states. Here is the report's abstract:

On November 7, 2023, Ohio became the 24th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Following the lead of other states, the Ohio ballot initiative included social equity provisions designed to address past harm of marijuana criminalization by investing in disproportionately impacted communities and encouraging participation of such groups in the new legal cannabis industry. The purpose of this report is to highlight the varying strategies other states have deployed to fulfill social equity goals and to look at how Ohio’s new laws compare to others. In this report, we look at three social equity policy areas in greater detail, starting with criminal justice reform, followed by community reinvestment, and industry participation. Additionally, we also provide detailed information on the criteria states have used to determine individual and community eligibility for participating in their social equity programs. We conclude the report with recommendations for greater data collection and analyses concerning the impact of social equity efforts and a more robust assessment of best practices for social equity programs.

February 1, 2024 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2024

DEPC event: "Implementing Issue 2: Criminal Justice Reform After Marijuana Legalization"

A7f44381-b00d-4d72-96b5-890ae7490964The title of this post is provides the title of this online event being hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC)  next week.  Here is how this panel discussion, which I am honored to moderate and takes place on January 31, 2024 from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. ET, is described on this page (where you can register):

Criminal justice reform has been a component of marijuana reform in most states, and Ohio’s newly enacted Issue 2 includes a directive and resources for efforts to “study and fund judicial and criminal justice reform including bail, parole, sentencing reform, expungement and sealing of records, legal aid, and community policing related to marijuana.” In the wake of Issue 2’s passage, criminal justice reform advocates are renewing calls to address harms caused by the past criminalization of a substance that is no longer illegal. The nature and scope of past harms are not always clearly defined nor easily remedied, though efforts to eliminate direct or collateral consequences from past cannabis offenses are often a focal point for action.

Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts as they discuss how Ohio should approach criminal justice reform after marijuana legalization, what Ohio can learn from other states’ experiences, and the unique political and practical challenges Ohio may face.

Ohio Representative Juanita Brent, District 22
Adrian Rocha, Policy Manager, Last Prisoner Project 
Daniel Dew, Policy Director, The Adams Project
Louis Tobin, Executive Director, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

January 26, 2024 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2024

Rounding up some recent reporting about Ohio cannabis realities (thanks in part to Ohio Gov DeWine)

As flagged in this prior post, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last week leaned heavily into advocacy for greater regulation of Delta 8 and other so-called "intoxicating help" products.  From various reporting, it has been unclear whether Gov DeWine wants a complete ban on these products or just regulations to reduce youth access.  More broadly, it has been challenging to sort through how Gov DeWine and other Ohio leaders want to regulate in the entire cannabis field ever since Ohio voters overwhelming passed Issue 2, a full legalization ballot initiaitive, in Nov 2023. 

In part because I am expecting students in my marijuana seminar to sort through some of these Ohio issues for their mid-term assignment, I thought it might be useful to round up here some recent reporting on these topics.  (I am inclined to joke that the Buckeye State is proving to be a tough nut to crack when t comes to cannabis laws.)

From Bloomberg Tax, "Ohio’s Adult-Use Cannabis Bill Still Needs to Work Out Kinks"

From, "Ohio bill would move hemp products from gas stations and grocery stores to marijuana dispensaries"

From Dayton Daily News, "From ‘mom room’ to dispensary, here’s how pot is legally grown in Ohio"

From Ideastream Public Media, "Marijuna 101: Ohio medical dispensaries prepare for new customers, rules after Issue 2 passage"

From Marijuana Moment, "Ohio Marijuana Law Has Created A ‘Goofy Situation,’ Governor Says, With Legal Possession But No Place To Buy It"

From the Ohio Capital Journal, "Ohio House leaves marijuana users in limbo with weed policy"

From the Ohio Capital Journal, "What is delta-8 and why does Ohio Gov. DeWine want to ban it?"

From the Statehouse News Bureau, "Ohio retailer says delta-8 THC crackdown would 'tear' at business"

From WTOL11, "Interest in marijuana cultivation at home is growing, local business owner says"

January 22, 2024 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 29, 2023

Reviewing some marijuana year-in-review stories

Thursday, December 7, 2023

"The Social Equity Paradigm: The Quest for Justice in Cannabis Legalization"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by William Garriott and Jose Garcia-Fuerte now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Today, many states have adopted a commercial-based approach to cannabis legalization which reflects the market for alcohol to govern the production, distribution, and consumption of the cannabis plant and its derivatives.  As a result, legalization has prioritized economic benefits and structures over justice concerns that would dismantle the old infrastructure of prohibition. This continues to shape the way legalization is unfolding across the United States.

One impact of this market-based approach is the push for social equity within the cannabis industry.  Though poor people and people of color have disproportionately suffered under prohibition, it is those least likely to have been targeted — wealthy and/or white people — that have disproportionately benefited from legalization.

To change this dynamic, social equity advocated have argued for a suite of policies that we term “the social equity paradigm.”  These policies are multifaceted and take various forms, but focus on three priorities: (1) increasing access to the industry, (2) addressing criminal records, and (3) re-investing cannabis tax revenues into disproportionately impacted communities.  All three priorities reflect the shortcomings of the market-based legalization model. They also reflect the principle of equity, which in this context simply means that those disproportionately harmed by prohibition should receive disproportionate benefit under legalization.

This article surveys the social equity paradigm across the country, and discusses the many legal, political, and social challenges confronting the paradigm that may require a shift in the approach to social equity.  The article provides recommendations for how the principles of the social equity paradigm can be sustained while avoiding the challenges that seek to undermine it.

December 7, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Employment and labor law issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 9, 2023

A number of notable new marijuana reform milestones right after Election Day 2023

From Axios, "Marijuana legal for more than half of Americans after election win"

More than half of Americans reside in states where marijuana will be legal after Ohio voters approved a measure to allow recreational marijuana use....

By the numbers: The legalized marijuana market is worth $64 billion and has nearly tripled in three years as legalization efforts have swept the nation, a 2022 Coresight Research report found.

From Gallup, "Grassroots Support for Legalizing Marijuana Hits Record 70%":

Seven in 10 Americans think marijuana use should be legal, the highest level yet after holding steady at 68% for three years.

The latest results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 2-23. Aside from those in favor, 29% of U.S. adults think marijuana should not be legal, while 1% are unsure.

Twelve percent of Americans backed legalizing marijuana when Gallup first asked about it in 1969.  Support cracked the 50% threshold in 2013, jumping 10 percentage points to 58% after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Support has since increased by another 12 points, paralleling the rise in Americans’ self-reported use of the drug. According to Gallup’s July Consumption Habits survey, the percentage saying they personally smoke marijuana has risen 10 points to 17% since 2013, and the percentage who have ever tried it has increased 12 points to 50%.

November 9, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Reviewing the state of marijuana politics in the US on Election Day 2023

22068050-election-day-celebration-star-vectorLater tonight or early tomorrow I expect I will be blogging about the results of today's initiative vote on the full legalization of marijuana in Ohio.  And, as voters head to the polls in the Buckeye State and in some other states, I am tempted to make the case that cannabis reform politics may be at an inflection point.  But maybe not, especially when possible federal reforms may be looming.  I suspect I will opine a bit on marijuana politics after seeing some actual outcomes on this intriguing off-off-year election day, but for now I will lean on recent Marijuana Moment coverage of both state and federal politics in this arena:

"Ohio Voters Will Decide On A Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative On Tuesday As Polls Show Strong Support"

"Virginia Election Forecast Predicts Democratic Wins In House And Senate, Which Could Lead To Legal Marijuana Sales"

"Colorado Should Be At The ‘Center’ Of Global Marijuana Market, Governor Says As He Unveils New Cannabis Budget Proposals"

"Pennsylvania House Committee Holds Marijuana Legalization Hearing As Lawmakers Consider State-Run Stores"

"Congressional Committee Urges DOJ To Study ‘Adequacy’ Of State Marijuana Laws And Address Federal Research Barriers"

"Congress Considers Opposing Amendments To Protect Legal Marijuana States And Block Biden From Rescheduling Cannabis"

"RFK Jr. Releases Presidential Campaign Ad Calling For Marijuana Legalization ‘To End Addiction’"

Happy Election Day to all who celebrate!

November 7, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

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

I continue to be excited to post some the latest papers from the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center in order to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates on many important and cutting-edge topics. The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Lily Dickson, who is in her final year as a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Here is its abstract:

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2023

"The Role of Small Business in the Evolving Cannabis Industry"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper now available via SSRN and authored Shaleen Title and Bruce Barcott. Here it is abstract:

As the legal cannabis sector grows and state markets mature, small businesses within the industry are struggling.  Now is an opportune time to examine the role of small businesses in the cannabis reform landscape.  With federal legislation on the horizon, policymakers require reliable information.  Unfortunately, research on the issue of small cannabis businesses remains sparse.

In this paper, we argue that small cannabis businesses foster local economic growth and contribute to the public good.  Additional research is necessary, particularly to compare findings from states that are already taking measures to safeguard and financially support specific types of small businesses.  In the interim, we recommend the exploration of immediate solutions, beginning with (1) access to SBA loans, (2) systematic data collection and potential expansion of state measures such as fee waivers and licensing prioritization, and (3) consideration of lower-cost regulations for small businesses.  Various relevant federal bills are listed and briefly analyzed in the Appendix.

October 6, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

DEPC event: "Will of the Voters?: The Future of Adult-Use Marijuana in Ohio"

C0225049-6f1a-4f06-b835-9d499dad5ca1I am pleased to spotlight another great Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) event taking place next month titled "Will of the Voters?: The Future of Adult-Use Marijuana in Ohio."  Here is how this online event, which is on October 23, 2023 from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. EDT, is described on this page (where you can register):

To date, 23 states have legalized adult-use cannabis for recreational purposes.  In November of this year, Ohioans will have a chance to voice their views on whether the Buckeye state should follow in their footsteps. While the Ohio initiative is similar in many ways to other states’ reforms to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use, Ohio’s cannabis reform history and the particular details of the ballot proposal’s approach to legalization give a unique Buckeye character to this effort. Also, as initiated legislation (rather than as a proposed constitutional amendment) the Ohio General Assembly will be able to modify any parts of the initiative if it passes.

Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for a panel discussion featuring experts as well as former and current legislators.  The event will explore this initiative’s structure, and its expected implementation, and how this initiative could impact the state’s existing medical marijuana market.  It will also delve into the chances of passage given the off-cycle election year and other political dynamics related to how the Ohio General Assembly might respond to the outcome of the election.


State Representative Josh Williams, Ohio District 41

John Carney, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP

Jason Ortiz, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Last Prisoner Project


Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law; Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

September 21, 2023 in Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Tulsa Law Review examining "Contemporary Cannabis: Wading Through a Post-Prohibition Era"

I was asked to post this call for papers, which I am happy to do:

Tulsa Law Review, in conjunction with the University of Tulsa College of Law and the University of Tulsa, is hosting a Symposium on Cannabis Law and Policy on March 1, 2024.

Theme: Contemporary Cannabis: Wading Through a Post-Prohibition Era

Tulsa Law Review invites interested parties to write and submit relevant articles for publication consideration in our 2024 Symposium Issue.  One panel will focus on evidentiary and interdisciplinary issues with the increasing legalization of cannabis at the medical and recreation level.  The other panel will discuss legalization at the state level and its effects on corporate and banking spheres.

With the recent announcement of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III substance, we are excited to facilitate a thoughtful discussion and a variety of papers surrounding this timely topic.

Questions and paper proposals should be submitted to Cameron Skinner, Tulsa Law Review symposium editor, [email protected]

September 12, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical community perspectives, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

"A Prescription for Progress? Would a Schedule III Reclassification of Psychoactive Cannabis Help or Hurt State Operators?"

The title of this post is the title of this timely new paper now on SSRN and authored by Benton Bodamer, who is a member of Dickinson Wright PLLC and an Adjunct Professor of Law at OSU and affiliated with the Drug Enforcement Policy Center. Here is its abstract:

On August 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concluded a scheduling review of psychoactive cannabis and recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration “reschedule” psychoactive cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.  The next 6 to 12 months could be among the most transformative for the U.S. cannabis industry, but progress is unlikely to come without regulatory confusion, conflicts of federal laws, and unintended consequences.  This paper aims to answer major questions that remain following the release of HHS’s statement, including why psychoactive cannabis was on Schedule I given its medical uses, whether a move to Schedule III effectively legalizes existing state-compliant cannabis companies, if relief from 280E tax or advertising restrictions are likely, and whether a move to Schedule III opens up banking for existing cannabis companies.  The paper ends with a look at the road ahead.

September 12, 2023 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Officially, Ohio voters will get to consider legislative ballot initiative to fully legal marijuana in November 2023

07b37569-0df5-44cd-90fb-1de3e3e0a0f1-large16x9_NewIVotedStickerwithOldFrankLaRoseAs reported in this local news piece, "It's official: Ohioans will decide this fall whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana." Here is more:

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol secured enough signatures to put its proposal before voters on the Nov. 7 ballot, Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office announced Wednesday. Advocates worked for over a year to hit this milestone as the GOP-controlled Legislature refused to go further than the current medical marijuana program.

Now, the coalition faces a new challenge: Getting Ohio voters on board and staving off opposition from the state's top leaders....

“We are grateful to the thousands of Ohioans who helped us get to this point and are excited to bring our proposal to regulate marijuana like alcohol before Ohio voters this coming election day,” Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Tom Haren said in a statement Wednesday.

The proposed statute would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.

Products would be taxed 10%, with revenue going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and a social equity and jobs program. A certain number of cultivator and dispensary licenses would be reserved for participants in that program, which aims to help those who are disproportionately affected by the enforcement of current marijuana laws.

The measure is an initiated statute, which means the Legislature could modify or repeal the law if it passes in November. Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, are staunchly opposed to adult-use marijuana, but Haren said previously that he expects lawmakers to respect the will of the voters.

It remains to be seen how much time and energy opponents will invest to defeat the proposal. Some critics of recreational marijuana, such as the Center for Christian Virtue, will be focused on keeping an abortion-rights amendment out of the state constitution.

Having both issues on the ballot in November could also generate significant turnout among progressive Ohioans in an odd-year election. A recent USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll found 58% of likely voters support legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older, and the number was even higher among young voters and Democrats.

August 16, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 29, 2023

"Federalism, Limited Government, and Conservative Outcomes: The Republican Case for Marijuana Legalization"

I continue to be excited to post some the latest papers from the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center in order to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates on many important and cutting-edge topics.   The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Jesse Green, who is about to start his final year as a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract:

Marijuana legalization is sweeping the United States by storm.  Almost half of the states have legalized recreational marijuana and an overwhelming majority have legalized medical marijuana.  However, a partisan divide in both recreational and medical marijuana legalization is present.  Democrats tend to be quicker to support legalization, while Republicans tend to be slower to embrace it.  And importantly, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level as a Schedule I controlled substance.

This paper lays out the key Republican arguments in favor of marijuana legalization.  After detailing the political realities of marijuana legalization in the United States, it addresses the benefits of keeping legalization efforts within the legislative process instead of letting the issue be subject to direct democracy.  This paper then concludes by providing specific Republican-supported policies that marijuana legalization can help advance.

July 29, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2023

How might marijuana reform in Ohio fare in an off-year with abortion rights also on ballot?

Because I live and work in central Ohio, I certainly pay attention to Ohio political developments more than others.  But, assuming two new initiatives qualify for state ballot in 2023 (which we should know soon), I suspect lots of folks around the country will be paying more attention Buckeye State politics.  Specifically, two high-profile topics --- full legalization of marijuana and abortion rights --- could come before Ohio voters this November.  That possibility prompts the question in the title of this post and also the question in this new local article headlined: "How will two hot-button ballot initiatives impact Ohio’s November turnout?"

07b37569-0df5-44cd-90fb-1de3e3e0a0f1-large16x9_NewIVotedStickerwithOldFrankLaRoseThe local piece mostly discusses turn-out issues generally; I am also especially wondering how having an abortion initiative at the same time as a marijuana initiative may impact not only voter turn-out, but also the advertising budgets and advocacy efforts by backers and opponents of both initiatives.   Here is a segment of the press piece covering just some of the issues a unique off-year Ohio election might raise:

Heading into this year’s election season, Ohio voters could wind up voting on two hot button issues at the same time. Election officials are currently combing through petitions for an abortion rights amendment and a recreational marijuana statute that could both go before voters in November.

Received wisdom holds that those hot button ballot issues are good way to juice turnout. Political science literature confirms that to a certain extent, that’s true. But what happens when two show up at once?...

Ohio State University political scientist Vladimir Kogan  [has research showing] turnout in an average Ohio school district during a presidential election was about 62% of the 2010 voting age population.  In a midterm, turnout dropped by 15 points and in odd year election it fell another 8 points.  Even with abortion and marijuana initiatives boosting awareness, he explained, that’s a lot of ground to make up.

And Kogan argued the nature of the electorate in odd-year elections could present a challenge for an initiative’s backers, too.  “The important thing is not the overall turnout but who’s voting,” Kogan said, “and again we know that not only this turnout overall quite different off-cycle but particularly the age profile.  Really, it’s a much, much older electorate that votes in these lower turnout elections.”

“Probably not the target demographic for people that are trying to legalize marijuana,” he added....  In terms of how the two issues might interact with one another, [University of North Florida political scientist Mike] Binder and Kogan dismiss the idea that they might amplify or cancel one another out.  Binder allowed that there are likely voters who would favor one issue and oppose the other, but probably not many.  Instead, he described the two issues’ appeal like a Venn diagram — not a complete overlap, but a pretty significant one.

Notably, Ohio votes are already going to the polls — I voted last week — to weigh in on a special election concerning whether to raise the support threshold for constitutional amendments to require future amendments to surpass 60% for adoption. That initiative, which was put on the ballot by Ohio's General Assembly, would impact the Ohio abortion initiative (which is a proposed constitutional amendment), but note the marijuana initiative (which proposes only statutory changes).

My sense is that the marijuana reform initiative may ultimately benefit in various ways from the abortion initiative garnering much attention.  For starters, I suspect overall turnout will be higher, especially among younger and more left-leaning voters.  Also, I suspect many elected Ohio leaders will likely be more focused on speaking out against the abortion initiative rather than the marijuana initiative (same for likely campaign contributors).  There may also be the broader benefit of more public polling on this topics before the vote and also a richer understanding of political trends and coalitions around these issues after the vote.  Interesting times.

July 17, 2023 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

"Have recreational marijuana laws undermined public health progress on adult tobacco use?"

Images (2)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.

May 16, 2023 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)