Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Friday, June 10, 2022

"Getting Rid of the “Scarlet-M”: The Harms of the War on Marijuana and Why Social Equity Should Be Incorporated into Marijuana Reform"

As I continue to catch up on posting a lot of recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, I continue to have the chance to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates.  The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Jesse Plaksa who recently graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract: 

When Congress criminalized marijuana as part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it appointed a commission to recommend marijuana's permanent legal status; the Commission recommended it be decriminalized, recognizing that total prohibition would likely be counterproductive in light of the minimal risks to marijuana users. Because of this, marijuana never should have been criminalized in the United States.  Thus, states and the federal government should enact social equity programs along with legalization to begin fixing the problems created by criminalization.
Countless lives were ruined by marijuana arrests and convictions from direct consequences, such as imprisonment or fines, and the numerous collateral consequences that follow.  Putting aside the formal collateral consequences, the stigma from marijuana arrests or convictions also caused immense economic and other harm.  To remedy the economic harms, jurisdictions should include social equity provisions in their legislation, such as supporting those harmed by the war on marijuana in participating in the newly regulated market and using tax revenue or other funds to invest in harmed communities.  Marijuana convictions should be automatically expunged, and people incarcerated for marijuana crimes should be immediately released to remedy the carceral harm upon legalization; these remedies should apply to all marijuana convictions, whether a felony a misdemeanor.

June 10, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2022

Might litigation be the means to ending blanket federal marijuana prohibition?

Lawyer-ethics-marijuana-cannabis-1024x704The question in the title of this post is prompted by this recent news, as well covered by Marijuana Moment:

Several leading marijuana businesses and stakeholders are banding together to sue the federal government over what they believe to be unconstitutional policies impeding their operations, according to the CEO of one of the companies.  And, he says, they’ve retained a prominent law firm led by an attorney who has been involved in numerous high-profile federal cases.

There have been various attempts to upend federal prohibition through the court system, but what makes this emerging effort especially notable is that the coalition of multi-state operators (MSOs) in the cannabis industry will apparently be represented by the firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.

David Boies, the chairman of the firm, has a long list of prior clients that includes the Justice Department, former Vice President Al Gore and the plaintiffs in a case that led to the invalidation of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, among others.  The prominent firm’s willingness to take on the case from the marijuana industry would be a firm indicator that they see merit to the issue at hand.

Abner Kurtin, founder and CEO of Ascend Wellness Holdings, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview on Friday that this is an “industry-wide effort,” with at least six major cannabis operators “favorably disposed” to joining the suits — one of which would focus on stopping the federal government from impeding intrastate cannabis commerce and another challenging a tax provision known as 280E that blocks the industry from taking tax deductions that are available to any other company.

Because these suits have not yet been filed, it is too early to predict whether or when they might impact federal policy or politics.  But this posting from Andrew Smith at Harris/Bricken concludes with an effective accounting of why these suits are worth watching:

The lawsuits come at an opportune time, as many federal bills to legalize cannabis use at the federal level are stuck in either the House of Representatives or the Senate (see our recent summaries here and here).  In addition, Kurtin mentioned that the lawsuits will be argued from a perspective of states’ rights, which will likely garner support from both political parties and appeal to the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

Ultimately, the lawsuits to end cannabis prohibition represent another angle — which avoids the various hurdles of legislative approval — for federal prohibitions on cannabis to be overturned.  Even if the litigation fails, it should exert even more pressure on Congress to Act.  But the potential agreement of a highly regarded constitutional law firm to represent a coalition of major players in the cannabis world signals the potential merits of their claims. 

June 6, 2022 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 26, 2022

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

Continuing to catch up on posting a lot of recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center means continuing to highlight great work by OSU law students and recent graduates.  The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by John Berk who just this month graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract:

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

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

Monday, May 23, 2022

"Capitalizing on Missed Opportunities: An Overview of Cannabis Fundraising Disparities"

I am continuing to catch up on posting a lot of recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.  The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Cam Wade, a rising 3L at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Here is its abstract:

Demanding state regulatory schemes render the operation of cannabis businesses an expensive endeavor and create an urgent need for reliable sources of cash.  Historically, the federal ban on cannabis has hindered the industry’s fundraising efforts, but larger cannabis companies have begun to make inroads toward friendlier deals with manageable interest rates.  This progress has not extended to smaller cannabis businesses, which has prevented many from effectively competing and contributed to a wave of intense industry consolidation around the largest companies in 2021.  This paper explores this fundraising disparity and its policy implications.  Proposed solutions at the state and federal level are also evaluated along with an overview of the limited fundraising options which are currently available to small cannabis businesses.

May 23, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal court rulings, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Student presentation: "Prohibition & the U.S. Economy: How Cannabis Legalization Can Help the United States Economy Recover in a Similar Fashion as the 21st Amendment"

Images (2)The homestretch of students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar presenting on the research topics of their choice includes a focus on economic development issues. Here is how the student describes the topic and some background readings:

Warning lights are now flashing for the U.S. economy as a potential recession appears on the horizon.  At 8.5%, the U.S. is seeing the highest inflation rate since 1981.  It seems that causes for inflation are plentiful.  COVID-19’s impact on the world’s supply chain, surging demand, production costs, relief funds, the Russian war, and an increase in wages to keep up with worker shortages are all reasons economists point to as inflation catalysts.  Recently, it was reported that Americans need to budget an extra $5,200 this year to cover inflation prices.  But the reality is many Americans simply cannot afford to keep up.  Not everyone’s wages have increased, and many Americans are still left without jobs.  Budgeting extra money when so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck or use government assistance to survive is not feasible nor sustainable.

We saw a similar crisis 100 years ago as well.  From 1920 to 1933, Americans suffered through the Prohibition Era, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and the Great Depression.  During this time, Americans saw a huge downturn in the economy with hundreds of thousands of people out of the job market.  Many businesses shut down. The U.S. government was spending an absurd amount of money to enforce Prohibition all while financially suffering from the loss of alcohol and excise taxes.  Once Prohibition was repealed, Americans saw a boom in economy.  More jobs and legal alcohol sales meant the government was simultaneously reaping the benefits of increased sales tax revenue and newly created income taxes which helped fund the New Deal and, in turn, further helped restore prosperity to the United States.

In this paper, I argue that cannabis can serve a similar purpose to the U.S. economy now as the repeal of alcohol prohibition did in 1933.  Much like the Prohibition Era, the U.S. government spends an obscene amount of money enforcing cannabis prohibition.  There is also a large opportunity cost in delaying federal legalization.  States that have legalized cannabis recreationally have seen a huge boost in economic growth due to job creation, sales tax revenue, and property values.  These dollars are then used to fund social programs, public schools, research, and public safety.  Federal legalization can do the same on a much larger scale.  The economy is becoming more fragile every day, public perception of cannabis has changed, and various proposed reforms have hit Capitol Hill.  I argue that now, more than ever, is the time to federally legalize cannabis because it could be the saving grace that stimulates the economy in the way Americans need.

Background Reading:

Press article from 2020: "Cannabis Legalization Is Key To Economic Recovery, Much Like Ending Alcohol Prohibition Helped Us Out Of The Great Depression"

ACLU blog post from 2012: "Hundreds of Economists: Marijuana Prohibition Costs Billions, Legalization Would Earn Billions"

Blog post by university professor: "How marijuana legalization would benefit the criminal justice system"

Leafly report from 2020: "2020 Cannabis Jobs Report: Legal cannabis now supports 243,700 full-time American jobs"

April 18, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Student presentation: "Putting Marijuana Back in the Bottle: FDA’s Role in Future Marijuana Regulation"

Images (4)Continuing the Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar students presenting on research topics of their choice. the second topic for this coming week's presentations will be focused on the role of the FDA.  Here is how the student describes her take on the topic and some background readings:

So far, FDA has been fairly hands-off when it comes to the state-driven marijuana market even though marijuana falls under many of the agency’s statutory domains.  “Marijuana” is a hot commodity as consumers can attest from the plethora of products purporting to contain marijuana derivatives.  Many, if not all, of these products fall under FDA’s regulatory regime.

Although FDA has issued some warning letters regarding company actions within the marijuana space, the agency has not developed a consistent theme for regulation.  Once it does, some state regulations may be preempted.  This would throw the current regulatory landscape into question.  Such entry may also change the dynamic of the marijuana industry.  For example, as companies face federal regulation, entry into the marijuana space may become more expensive and push small sellers out of the market.  Conversely, a dual marijuana marketplace may be established — one that establishes itself nationwide and another that attempts to maintain the current system by only selling intra-state.

FDA does not need to completely reinvent the wheel when it comes to marijuana regulation, although it statutorily may have to consider factors unique to current state regulations.  However, given the history of introducing more robust regulations onto new industries, as FDA did with tobacco industry, systems states are already finding successful, and other nations’ marijuana schemes, there are many avenues for FDA to ensure the American public is protected from unsafe products without overly disrupting the current market.

Every year that the federal government declines to implement a regulatory scheme for marijuana products, states are creating their own processes — some more and some less permissive.  This paper describes the statutory basis for FDA to regulate marijuana.  It also describes how future FDA regulation might interplay with current state regulation or be preempted.  Next, it analyzes possible industry challenges as federal regulation becomes more prominent.  Finally, it recommends how FDA may enter the regulatory space in tandem with state regulation and avoid stifling an already robust market.

Background Reading

Law review article: "The Surprising Reach of FDA Regulation of Cannabis, Even after Descheduling"

Law review article (by own own Prof Zettler): "Pharmaceutical Federalism"

US Food & Drug Administration webpage: "FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)"

Government of Canada webpage: "Health products containing cannabis or for use with cannabis: Guidance for the Cannabis Act, the Food and Drugs Act, and related regulations"

April 12, 2022 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Food and Drink, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, International Marijuana Laws and Policies, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Student presentation on native tribes exploring marijuana marketplaces

Download (24)My Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is in its homestretch, and there are scheduled for the coming weeks a host of student presentations on the research topics of their choice.   As I often mention, before their presentations, students are expected to provide in this space some background on their topic and links to some readings or other relevant materials.  The first of this coming week's presentations is focused on native tribes involved in marijuana activities.   Here is how the student describes the topic and the provided readings:

Summary:

Native Americans have the highest poverty rate in the United States and the percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives living in poverty is nearly twice the rate of the nation.  In addition, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights “reported that -- due to things like historical discriminatory policies, insufficient resources, and inefficient federal program delivery -- Native Americans continue to rank near the bottom of all Americans in terms of health, education, and employment.”  Some tribes have begun to look towards the marijuana marketplace as a different way to generate revenue for their tribe and to encourage economic development.

Tribes that have been able to build successful marijuana enterprises have seen great benefits.  The Las Vegas Paiute in 2017 opened a 15,800 square foot dispensary called NuWu Cannabis Marketplace which has since been deemed a blueprint for the industry and brings in over $5 million in sales per month.  A designated amount of the profits from the company goes to the Paiutes’ general fund to support things like medical and educational expenses of tribe members.  However, some tribes have faced extensive legal barriers to their attempts to tap into this potential financial gain.  Federal raids and threatened state intervention has left some Native American communities weary of even thinking about entering into this realm.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and the federal government is in charge of regulating tribes.  However, Congress can transfer its jurisdiction over tribes to the states if it chooses and in some states it has given them exclusive jurisdiction, through Public Law 280, over all crimes committed on reservations.  The interaction between state and federal law and the overall lack of clarity often leaves tribes to make tough decisions in this space with little guidance.  This presentation explores the legal issues implicated with tribal marijuana and discusses what has happened when tribes have entered or tried to enter the market.

Background Reading:

April 3, 2022 in Assembled readings on specific topics, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Register now for "Ohio Cannabis Reform in Focus"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 11, 2022

Thrilled to be speaking at SXSW panel on "Post Pot Legalization: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly"

Thumbnail_CJR Post Pot LegalizationI have the great honor and pleasure of being in Austin for about 24 hours to serve as a presenter on this panel at SXSW, titled "Post Pot Legalization: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly." The panel is part of a series of great panels presented by Stand Together Trust tomorrow, and here is the description of my panel:

Marijuana reform has been a long-time coming policy priority in the eyes of the nation.  It is an issue that has united a number of unlikely allies and deepened divides.  There’s no question that marijuana is on track to become fully legalized – the question becomes what happens next?

This group of experts, influencers, policymakers and academics will offer insights into upcoming trends including the good, the bad and inevitable of how a post-legalized America will move forward.

I am so looking forward to the discussion during this panel, and I have been told that records will be available sometime after the event.

March 11, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Interesting review of what has become of Amsterdam's famous "coffee shops" in the COVID era

Amsterdam-coffeeshop-4In the next few weeks, my Marijuana Reform seminar will be discussing different models for marijuana legalization.  One model we will discuss is the so-called "Dutch coffee shop model" which allows only the retail sale of cannabis, but also the on-site consumption. (Most US state models of legalization allow for fully commercialized cultivation, distribution and sale, but also bars any on-site or other public consumption.)  With these matters in mind, this new CNN article, headlined "What's happened to Amsterdam's cannabis coffee shops during Covid," caught my eye.  I recommend the full piece, and here are excerpts:

Dutch coffee shops never closed completely during the pandemic as they were classed as essential businesses, unlike restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.

But the cannabis cafes have been dealt a catastrophic blow due to a lack of the international tourists who were responsible for a large share of their revenue.  And while some have adapted to a new way of life, there are fears from those who work in them that they're in danger of vanishing....

Pre-pandemic, the cafe was usually full during the week, noisy and buzzing with atmosphere as people socialized with each other while smoking a marijuana cigarette or eating a cannabis brownie. but on a Thursday afternoon in early February, there's just one person sitting inside, working on a laptop while sipping a cup of coffee and smoking a cannabis joint.

"In my coffee shop it's been very empty and boring," says Nick.  "But other coffee shops [outside the center] are busier than ever due to takeaway demand. During coronavirus, everybody is sitting at home and smoking."

Over half of the capital's 167 coffee shops are in the center and heavily reliant on tourism, says Joachim Helms of the coffee shop owners' association BCD.  "The coffee shops in the center were really in survival mode [during the past two years]," he says. Government financial aid allowed them to stay afloat, but this only covered their rent and furlough for staff, and they struggled to make any revenue, Helms says.

When coronavirus overwhelmed Europe in March 2020, the Dutch government announced a strict lockdown and ordered all hospitality to close, including coffee shops. This decision was reversed almost immediately after people started buying cannabis illegally. "The government worried that if they kept the coffee shops closed, people would turn to the streets and illegal dealers," says Helms. The shops were allowed to stay open, even during the strictest lockdowns, for takeaway service....

"The takeaway business has been really good," says Maeve Larkin, who works in Hunters coffee shop in the center. "People tend to buy bigger amounts [than when they consume it in the cafe]."...

Even though the lockdown has ended, strict rules remain in place for the entire Dutch hospitality sector. All customers must show a vaccination pass, in the form of a QR code on their phones, to buy cannabis in a coffee shop, maintain a 1.5-meter distance while inside and wear masks while ordering. Coffee shops must stop serving at 10 p.m., but are allowed to stay open until midnight for takeout. These rules make it difficult for coffee shops to accommodate a large number of customers and encourage people to stay inside, instead of buying takeout.

Helms says that lockdown restrictions have changed the culture of Amsterdam's coffee shops. "The foundation of the coffee shop policy is that there are places where you can consume cannabis in a responsible and safe way and where you can meet people from all around the world," he says.

"The whole point of coffee shops in Amsterdam is the relaxed vibe and the culture of it. That's gone now," says Larkin, adding that the current situation reminds her of the US model, where in certain states people can buy cannabis from dispensaries. "Now there's two people at a table and there's no spontaneity anymore. This cafe and the surrounding area used to be packed all the time, now it's just dead."

February 20, 2022 in International Marijuana Laws and Policies, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

"Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper available via SSRN and authored by Shaleen Title.  (Shaleen Title served as one of five inaugural commissioners of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020, and has been serving as the Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)  Here is the abstract for this paper:

It is a crucial and vulnerable moment for the future of the cannabis market.  While states are making historic progress creating paths for small businesses and disenfranchised groups, larger companies are expanding, consolidating, and lobbying for licensing rules to create or maintain oligopolies.  Federal legalization will only accelerate the power grab already happening with new, larger conglomerates openly expressing interest.  Left unchecked, this scramble for market share threatens to undermine public health and safety and undo bold state-level efforts to build an equitable cannabis marketplace.  This paper argues for intentionally applying well-developed antitrust principles to federal cannabis reform now, before monopolization of the market takes place, and offers eight concrete policy recommendations.

February 1, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Jeff Bezos can go to space, but can Amazon help get federal marijuana reform enacted?

Amazon_tweetThe question in the title of this post is prompted by all the press buzz about the decision by Amazon to formally endorse Rep Nancy Mace's States Reform Act.  This New York Post piece, headlined "Amazon endorses GOP bill that would legalize marijuana on federal level," provides some context:

Amazon has endorsed a Republican-backed bill in Congress on Tuesday that would legalize marijuana on a federal level, leaving states to decide whether to prohibit or regulate it.  Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R-SC) States Reform Act would remove cannabis as a federal Schedule I substance and introduce a new 3% federal tax on the substance....  “Every state is different and every state should be able to dictate their cannabis laws,” Mace told The Post in an interview. “This bill would get the federal government out of the way.”...

Mace, a freshman Congresswoman who previously worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, told The Post that she was approached by Amazon representatives after she introduced the bill.  She said the company was motivated to endorse her bill because legal issues around marijuana can make hiring difficult.  “They’re looking at it from a workers perspective,” Mace said in an interview. “The prohibitions at the federal level really do affect their workforce.” 

Amazon told Mace that it is not interested in selling marijuana on its website, according to the Congresswoman.  “That is not their goal, not their intention,” Mace said of the prospect of Amazon pushing pot. “They said that right off the bat.”  In June, Amazon stopped testing many job applicants for marijuana and said that it would support efforts to legalize the drug.... 

Mace expects Democrats, many of whom have supported weed legalization for years, to come out in support of her bill. She argued that Republicans are also likely to support her bill because it gives more power to states — and because weed legalization is extremely popular nationwide.  “Even in my very red state of South Carolina, statewide, medical cannabis is at an approval rating of 70%,” she said. “If we’re going to do cannabis reform at the federal level, Republicans need to have a seat at the table.” 

This lengthy new Forbes article, headlined "Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace Is On A Mission To Legalize Cannabis — And Amazon Just Got Behind Her," discusses further Rep Mace, the States Reform Act, and some of the current political realities as of early 2022. I recommend the full piece, and here are some excerpts:

The cannabis industry also adores Mace and her bill, which is pro-business. (She proposes a 3% federal excise tax—compared to Schumer’s 10% tax—which would generate an estimated $3 billion in annual tax revenue by 2030.) Still, her bill is unlikely to become law, and Mace is under no pot-addled delusion that its passage is a sure thing. Her broader goal is to get as many Republicans as possible on board with cannabis reform and show the GOP that legalization is a good campaign issue in 2022 and beyond....

Mace’s bill also attempts to heal some of the inequities of America’s war on drugs, which disproportionately affects people of color. She estimates that if her bill were to pass, and some 2,800 federal prisoners incarcerated for non-violent cannabis crimes were released and another 1,100 or so people who get put in prison for similar crimes each year are not incarcerated, the government would save nearly $600 million over five years....

Cannabis legalization has historically been a progressive issue, but Mace wants to make it a Republican talking point. Kim Rivers, the CEO of Florida-based Trulieve, which has 160 dispensaries across eight states, welcomes Mace’s approach. “Cannabis is not a red or blue issue,” says Rivers. “And cannabis reform has done well consistently in conservative states. It sends a significant message that cannabis is not partisan.”...

Despite all of this momentum, Mace knows the States Reform Act is unlikely to go forward before the midterm elections, but her goal is to show a “proof of concept” that there are enough votes on the Republican side to get meaningful reform across the finish line in Congress.

When asked what it means that cannabis is now more popular than President Trump in red states—74% of Mississippians, for example, voted for the state’s medical marijuana ballot initiative while nearly 58% of Mississippians voted for Trump—she says it’s a signal to Republicans that they need to get on board with legalization.

“It means that if you don't do it, you're full of shit,” Mace says. “There's no reason not to do this. And if you are anti-marijuana, this is not forcing you to do it. It's not forcing your state to legalize it. But if it is legal in your state, then we're going to tax it and regulate it.”

January 26, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 14, 2022

Detailing how state marijuana reforms may increase (at least the visibility of) illegal operators

Natalie Fertig has this great new (and lengthy) article in Politico Magazine about the persistent challenges posed by illegal marijuana market in a country that for now has only half-legalized the cannabis plant.  The full title of this piece highlights its themes: "‘Talk About Clusterf---’: Why Legal Weed Didn’t Kill Oregon’s Black Market. Legalization was supposed to take care of the black market. It hasn’t worked out that way."  I recommend the piece in full, and here are excerpts:

People have grown marijuana illegally in southern Oregon for at least half a century.  It was easy to conceal illicit activity in private woods and national forests when the nearest human could easily be a few miles away.  But there’s nothing hidden about what’s going on now.

The Red Mountain Golf Course, a 24-acre plot of land just outside Grants Pass, the county seat, sold for just over half a million dollars in June 2021.  Three months later, Josephine County Sheriffs and Oregon State Troopers raided the former golf course and seized more than 4,000 marijuana plants and arrested two people on charges of felony marijuana manufacture.  It wasn’t an isolated incident.  Around the same time, law enforcement seized 380 pounds of processed marijuana stuffed in a car abandoned at the scene of a crash.  Cops also seized 7,600 marijuana and hemp plants, 5,000 pounds of processed marijuana and $210,000 in cash from two grow operations just outside Cave Junction.  Two men were arrested and held for unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item and other charges.

While these eye-popping figures draw headlines, the raids are just a cost of doing business for the cartels, according to law enforcement officials.  Many buy or lease six or seven properties, knowing that some might get shut down by the police.  Like any smart entrepreneurs, the cartels budget for those losses....

The proliferation of unlicensed cannabis farms is scaring local residents and scarring the landscape.  Personal wells have run dry and rivers have been illegally diverted.  Piles of trash litter abandoned grow sites.  Locals report having knives pulled on them, and growers showing up on their porches with guns to make demands about local water use. Multiple women say they’ve been followed long distances by strange vehicles. Locals regularly end conversations with an ominous warning: “Be careful.”...

Earlier in the year, the legislature passed a bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Lily Morgan, that increased penalties for growing cannabis illegally and gave state regulators the authority to investigate hemp growers.

Jackson County Sheriff Nate Sickler says the tougher rules for hemp cultivation and the money lawmakers funneled to local enforcement efforts are an excellent start.  “If we’re able to get our positions funded, I really think we can make a significant impact [on] illegal marijuana,” said Sickler. “Are they going to go away? It’s probably never going to happen.”...

There are as many suggested solutions to southern Oregon’s weed problem as there are factors creating it. Some say tweaks to federal and state hemp regulations — and more money for law enforcement — will get the illicit grows under control. Others argue that only federal decriminalization will solve the problem, because it would reduce the market for illicit weed. Anti-legalization advocates, meanwhile, point to Oregon’s woes as proof that legalization doesn’t live up to its promise of eliminating the illicit market.

January 14, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 7, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannabis Law by ANDREW McCLURG

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Rounding up interesting marijuana/drug policy "year in review" postings

2021-marijuana-bubbles-leafI saw this afternoon two notable "year in review posts," and there are links:

From Marijuana Moment, "Here Are The Biggest Marijuana, Psychedelics And Drug Policy News Stories Of 2021"

From NORML, "2021 Year in Review: NORML’s Top Ten Events in Marijuana Policy"

I recommend both of these pieces in full, but I will here highlight a few of the top-10 from the NORML review that gives particular attention to my concerns about the intersection of marijuana reform and criminal justice.

#1: Five More States Enact Adult-Use Legalization Laws

Legislatures in five states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia — enacted laws in 2021 legalizing adult-use marijuana possession and regulating retail cannabis markets. These legislative victories marked a significant change from past years, when similar laws were enacted almost exclusively via citizens’ initiatives, not by legislative action. In total, 18 states — comprising nearly one-half of the US population — have now adopted laws regulating adult use marijuana production and retail sales.

“State lawmakers have learned that advocating for adult-use legalization laws is a winning political issue that is popular with their constituents, regardless of their age, race, or political affiliation,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.

#2: State Officials Vacate Over Two Million Cannabis Convictions

Officials in multiple states have moved to either expunge or seal the records of over two million people with cannabis convictions. Specifically, officials in New York announced vacating an estimated 400,000 convictions. In Virginia, officials have similarly taken steps to seal some 400,000 convictions. In New Jersey, officials have expunged over 360,000 marijuana-related convictions. Officials in Illinois have vacated an estimated 500,000 cannabis convictions, while California officials have expunged over 200,000 convictions. In all, more than a dozen states have enacted legislation in recent years facilitating the process of having past marijuana convictions either expunged or sealed from public view.

In December, US Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced federal legislation to provide funding to state and local governments for the purposes of expunging the records of those with marijuana-related convictions. Following the bill’s introduction, NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said, “This bipartisan effort represents the growing consensus to reform marijuana policies in a manner that addresses the harms inflicted by prohibition. There is no justification for continuing to prevent tens of millions of Americans from fully participating in their community and workforce simply because they bear the burden of a past marijuana conviction.”....

#4: Marijuana Arrests Decline Precipitously

The number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws declined 36 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to data released in September by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the agency, police made an estimated 350,150 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2020. That total is down more than 50 percent from peak levels in 2008, when police made over 800,000 marijuana-related arrests. Marijuana-related arrests were least likely to occur in 2020 in western states — most of which have legalized the possession of the substance.

“As more states move toward the sensible policy of legalizing and regulating cannabis, we are seeing a decline in the arrest of non-violent marijuana consumers nationwide,” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said. He added, however, “While these numbers represent a historic decline in arrests, even one person being put into handcuffs for the simple possession of marijuana is too many.”

December 30, 2021 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

"Growing Up: Vertical Integration in the Cannabis Industry"

The title of this post is the title of this paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Philip Ewing, a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  (This paper is yet another in the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)   Here is this latest paper's abstract: 

As marijuana is quickly gaining legal status in an increasing number of states throughout the United States, states are faced with choices to make about how they will regulate the industry.  One aspect of the regulatory scheme that states must implement is how they will allow businesses to be structured, specifically with regards to vertical integration.  Vertical integration is a business structure where a company controls more than one aspect of a business, such as maintaining control over their suppliers, distributors, and retail locations.  This allows companies to reduce overhead and reduce costs.  Some states mandate that marijuana businesses must be completely integrated, controlling the business from “seed to sale,” others allow vertical integration but do not require it, and some states prohibit vertical integration.  This paper will explore vertical integration and how it currently exists in the cannabis industry, detail current trends in state regulations regarding vertical integration, and evaluate policy considerations for the various regulatory approaches.

December 29, 2021 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 27, 2021

Looking back and forward suggests pessimism (with a hint of hope?) for federal marijuana reform in 2022

6a00d8341bfae553ef0223c85155dc200c-320wiA couple of notable new commentaries on federal marijuana reform caught my eye recently.   This first one is by Alex Shephard at The New Republic under this full headline: "Legalize It, Already!: Biden needs to ditch his old-fashioned ideas about marijuana and realize that legalization is a winning bipartisan issue — something he desperately needs in 2022."  This piece is more about marijuana politics than policy, and here are a few passages with an emphasis on the White House:

“You would think that President Biden would embrace legalization, considering where his constituents are on this issue,” Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst at the Marijauna Policy Project, told me. Per a recent Pew survey, 60 percent of Americans favor full legalization, while 31 percent favor legalizing marijuana for medical use only, meaning that a whopping 91 percent of Americans are in favor. And while several states have relaxed laws or fully legalized weed, the federal government is trailing....

Given the general sense of inertia in Congress, there are other less far-reaching but still important things the Biden administration could do.  The Cole memo, issued by Eric Holder in 2013 and revoked by Jeff Sessions five years later, instructed U.S. attorneys not to enforce federal marijuana laws.  That memo could be reinstated and even expanded to other departments.  Biden could offer clemency to people currently imprisoned for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses and pardons for them and those who have been released.

All of this would be better politically and morally, and in policy terms, than what Democrats are doing now. “You would think that President Biden would embrace legalization, considering where his constituents are on this issue,” Lindsey told me.  “There’s really no question [about] the level of support that they have, and yet the president seems to be AWOL.” After a year ending with political and legislative inertia — and with Biden’s tanking poll numbers, particularly among young people — marijuana policy would be the perfect place to start.

This second one is by John Hudak at Brookings under the headline: "The numbers for drug reform in Congress don’t add up." This piece effectively details some political cross-currents thwarting reform progress in Congress. It should be read in full, and here are some highlights:

Often, in a legislative body, the issue is not whether a law should be reformed, but how that law should be reformed. And there’s the rub for federal legalization legislation. Liberals and progressives in the Democratic Party cannot agree with moderate and libertarian Republicans on what cannabis reform should look like, even if majorities agree that the law should be changed. And as pro-cannabis reform members from both sides dig their heels in on the importance of provisions that are close to their heart (and the heart of their base), it makes assembling that coalition impossible....

It is clear that as a legalization bill shifts away from a pro-business direction, the number of Republican supporters plummets.  And while in a Democratic-controlled House, leadership can muster the votes to pass something like the MORE Act, the requirement to beat a filibuster in the Senate makes passage of more social equity and racial justice-oriented comprehensive legislation an impossibility.  It is not clear if Democrats can even keep all 50 of their Democratic members in line for such a vote, and it is a certainty that they cannot attract the 10 or more Republicans necessary to clear the 60-vote hurdle. And more moderate legislation that could attract more Republicans will likely lose the more progressive members of the Senate Democratic Caucus....

Ultimately, cannabis reform supporters inside and outside of Congress need a reality check about the state of play of current cannabis reform proposals, and what additional complications the future may offer. Regardless of the chosen path forward, there will be naysayers, holdouts, resistance, and anger.  There will be accusations of bloated government or not doing enough to reverse the effects of the drug war.  That is standard for an interest group environment on a passionate issue in a deliberative body.  However, in the end, Congress has a choice between doing nothing and letting prohibition win the day and allowing all of the consequences of that to remain. Or doing something short of perfect, that addresses some of the real harms that drug prohibition has created in this country.

Looking for a hint of hope in these stories, I am drawn to notion that, if the Biden team concludes that Congress is unlikely to get much (if anything) done on this front in 2022, it might look for "safe" executive action that serves as a political winner in this space.  And, as I see it, a clemency initiative focused around certain marijuana offenders — maybe not one as robust as urged by many advocates, but still impactful — could be a huge political winner. 

Frustratingly, I know I am projecting a vision of what I hope will happen soon, not an account of what seems likely in the short term (or even long term).   But I really want to believe there are "safe" and  smart and impactful ways for Prez Biden to start leaning in to this issue at least a bit more.  And at some point he has to at least try in some way to deliver on his 2020 campaign promise to "Decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions."

UPDATE on 12/28: I see that the Wall Street Journal now has this new article in a similar vein discussing the challenges of federal marijuana reform under this full headline: "Cannabis Overhaul in Washington Is Only Getting Harder: Legalization agenda could be complicated by states that want to defend their nascent marijuana industries and associated tax revenues."

December 27, 2021 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

"The Effects of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: More Neutral than Expected"

The title of this post is the title of this paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Jesse Plaksa, a student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  (This paper is yet another in the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)   Here is this latest paper's abstract:  

In 2012, Colorado was among the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, coming only second to Washington by four days.  However, Colorado was the first state to begin selling recreationally.  Thus, interested parties immediately began looking to Colorado’s experiment to help determine what exactly happens when a state begins regulating marijuana like alcohol.  Any major policy change will have many wide-ranging effects.

This paper will examine a variety of those effects, including the effects on crime, use of other illicit drugs, policing, health, and economic effects.  The effects on crime are not clear because there are conflicting reports showing crime has gone down, but others show a neutral effect on crime.  Legalization does not seem to affect clearance rates of crimes, as proponents often argue it would.  It is not yet clear whether marijuana legalization lowers opioid overdose deaths, though researchers would expect that some opioid users would use marijuana instead. Additionally, legalization appears to have little to no effect on traffic accidents and fatalities.  Legalization also added a substantial amount of new jobs to Colorado’s economy and brings in substantial revenue with Colorado’s high tax rate on marijuana sales.

Marijuana is still federally illegal, being a schedule I drug along with heroin, but states have pushed forward with little to no interference from the federal government.  Colorado has paved the way by showing that legalization can, at the very least, bring in much-needed revenue via taxes.  By being aware of the possible effects of legalization, state lawmakers and citizens can be better informed to make decisions for their own states.  Additionally, the federal government can look to Colorado as an experiment that it can then learn from to better decide whether to make any changes at the federal level.  Given that Pew polls show around two thirds of Americans favor legalization, a close look at the consequences of such a policy is warranted.

December 16, 2021 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

"Fair and Square: How to Effectively Incorporate Social Equity Into Cannabis Laws and Regulations"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper available via SSRN and authored by Shaleen Title.  (Shaleen Title served as one of five inaugural commissioners of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020, and this year has been serving as the Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)  Here is the abstract for this paper:

As states and local jurisdictions implement new laws legalizing marijuana, many have charged regulators with the worthy goal of remedying the injustices of the drug war, a concept known as social equity.  Broadly, social equity falls into a few core policy categories: criminal justice reforms, including automatic expungement of past cannabis offenses; reinvesting a percentage of marijuana tax revenue into the most impacted communities; and — the focus of this paper — creating a cohesive cannabis industry licensing framework with special considerations for people affected by the war on drugs.

So far, no program has successfully achieved its social equity goals as originally envisioned.  But as each new state studies and incorporates the experiences of those that previously tried, we are seeing remarkable progress with respect to the involvement, inclusion, and support of people who have experienced disproportionate harm from prohibition.  This paper is designed to equip readers with practical advice about how to implement social equity.  There are three large policy areas regulators have to address as they begin to design a comprehensive social equity policy for their state’s cannabis industry: policies around what makes an individual or an entity a social equity applicant, policies around what benefits a social equity applicant should have access to, and licensing policies that will support your community’s social equity goals.

December 7, 2021 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 21, 2021

"New GOP weed approach: Feds must ‘get out of the way’" ... which is an important historic drug policy theme

9780197582183The first part of the title of this post is the headline of this notable new Politico piece, and the second part draws on this recent short book review that I recently authored for The Federalist Society blog.  I was reviewing Judge Jeffrey Sutton’s majestic Who Decides, in which the judge richly develops and documents why “some matters should not be nationalized” while urging a “renewed appreciation for the virtues of localism.”  In my (too brief) review, I stressed the importance of these localism themes for drug policy throughout US history, and I highlighted this fascinating 1921 Atlantic piece by journalist Louis Graves discussing how alcohol prohibition most effectively gained adherents from a “gradual building up of dry sentiment" at the local level until “Federal interference ... dealt a blow to the cause of real prohibition.”

With Judge Sutton's book and my own affinity for ever-evolving political realities, the long Politico piece by Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang provides an effective accounting of some structural issues in play in the modern marijuana reform discourse.  I recommend the article in full, and here are excerpts:

Republicans are warming to weed. Nearly half of Republican voters support federally decriminalizing cannabis, and GOP lawmakers are now beginning to reflect their constituents’ view by increasingly supporting broad legalization at the state and federal level.

“We need the federal government just to get out of the way,” said Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who introduced the first Republican bill in Congress to decriminalize marijuana this past week and pointed to more than 70 percent of Americans supporting the idea.

Stronger Republican involvement could hasten a snowball effect on Capitol Hill, where Democrats lead the charge on decriminalization but lack results. It could also chip away at Democrats’ ability to use cannabis legalization to excite progressives and younger voters as the midterms approach.

“When the culture becomes more accepting of something, even the most resistant groups get tugged along,” said Dan Judy, vice president of North Star Opinion Research, which focuses on Republican politics. “I don't want to directly conflate marijuana legalization with something like gay marriage, but I think there's a similar dynamic at play.”

Earlier this year, North Dakota’s GOP-dominated House passed a marijuana legalization bill introduced by two Republican lawmakers — the first adult-use legalization bill to pass in a Republican-dominated chamber. And Mace's bill marks the first time a Republican has proposed federal legislation to decriminalize cannabis, expunge certain cannabis convictions and tax and regulate the industry.

As Republicans wade into the weed group chat, they are bringing their principles, constituents and special interest groups. When Mace introduced her bill on a freezing day on the House triangle, she was surrounded at the podium not by Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, but by veterans groups, medical marijuana parents, cannabis industry lobbyists and Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity.

Many GOP proposals include lower taxes and a less regulatory approach than Democratic-led bills, while often maintaining elements popular among most voters, like the expungement of nonviolent cannabis convictions. “I tried to be very thoughtful about what I put in the bill that would appeal to Democrats and Republicans,” Mace said in an interview on Monday. “Which is why criminal justice reform is part of it. It's why the excise tax is low.”

The motivations bringing Republicans to the table are also changing. Former Capitol Hill cannabis advocates like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) advocated primarily for their state legalization programs, but Mace comes from South Carolina — a state with no medical or recreational cannabis program. She joins other GOP lawmakers who are pushing for federal policy to move beyond their own states — they include Reps. Matt Gaetz and Brian Mast of Florida, where only medical marijuana is legal, and libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, which does not yet have a medical program....

Six in 10 younger GOP voters — what Pew described as the “Ambivalent Right” in a recent report — believe marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, but older, educated Republicans and Christian conservatives do not feel the same way....

Republicans who support legalization are viewing the issue through the prism of states' rights, personal freedom, job creation and tax revenue. Many libertarian-leaning Republicans are early supporters of cannabis policy reform, arguing that arresting people for using cannabis is a violation of personal liberties.

Some Republicans also cite the racial disparities in marijuana arrests as a reason to fix federal law — though Democrats focus more strongly on criminal justice reform on the whole. And, as is the case for Democrats, the shift is often generational: Texas Young Republicans announced they support marijuana decriminalization back in 2015.

The shift within the GOP at times is less about lawmakers’ own beliefs about marijuana and more about how much the public has shifted on the subject. Bill sponsors in North Dakota, for example, said they were personally opposed to marijuana, but introduced the bill anyways to head off the possibility of a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana through the constitution — especially after South Dakota voters approved legalization in 2020.

November 21, 2021 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)