Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Notable accounting of "legal" Delta-8 THC products

LightRoom-154This interesting new Forbes article, "Delta-8 THC Generated $2 Billion In Revenue In Two Years, Report Finds," provides a summary of interesting economic data regarding the interesting "legal" THC products. Here are excerpts:

Delta-8 THC products have seen a surge in popularity in the past two years, resulting in over $2 billion in sales as an alternative to traditional marijuana.  According to a recent report by cannabis analytics firm Brightfield Group, the increasing popularity of delta-8 THC products is causing other cannabis industries to take notice and take action.

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid derived from hemp that has been reported to produce similar but milder effects than traditional delta-9 THC contained in marijuana.  Delta-8 THC is found naturally in small amounts, but the products currently on the market are created by chemically converting CBD into the Delta-8 molecule.

Delta-8 THC products popped up following the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp cultivation with a THC level below 0.3% at the federal level.  However, the legalization brought companies to produce a wide array of products containing minor non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as CBD and CBG, but also other cannabinoids that have milder psychoactive effects than THC, which are not categorized as illegal because they are derived from hemp.

However, there have been safety concerns raised about Delta-8 THC and similar products, as the conversion of CBD molecules into THC molecules requires a skilled chemist to ensure safety, and improper or imprecise techniques can lead to high levels of impurities in the final product.  In addition, the health effects of consuming these impurities are currently unknown.

Nevertheless, the report notes a considerable overlap among the users of CBD, cannabis, Delta-8, and other newly developed cannabinoid products.  The report indicates that 35% of CBD users have purchased psychoactive hemp-derived products within the last half-year.  Furthermore, in states where marijuana is legal, nearly a quarter of marijuana users express interest in purchasing delta-8 products in the future.  As consumers are inclined to experiment with new products, there may be a shift towards delta-8 over time, particularly if the cost difference remains favorable.

In states where marijuana is still illegal, delta-8 has emerged as a cost-effective and accessible way to experience psychoactive cannabis.  It can be obtained legally or through mail-order, providing consumers with a less risky (legally) alternative to getting marijuana illegally.  That was also confirmed by a study published last year, which showed that the public interest in delta-8-THC increased rapidly in 2020 and 2021 and was exceptionally high in those U.S. states that haven't decriminalized or legalized recreational cannabis.

However, the report notes that delta-8's increasing popularity in places where marijuana is still illegal could negatively impact support for legalization.  "If Delta-8 continues to gain popularity and build a foothold in areas where Delta-9 is restricted, legalization measures could see less popular support and grassroots fundraising, slowing progress toward full U.S. legalization," the report reads.

In addition, it seems that there is already a significant amount of confusion between delta-8 and delta-9, the main compound of marijuana, even in places where that is legal. The report observes that retailers selling delta-8 products present themselves as dispensaries and do not clarify that the compound is derived from hemp.

January 17, 2023 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 18, 2022

"Association of Recreational Cannabis Legalization With Alcohol Use Among Adults in the US, 2010 to 2019"

The title of this post is the title of this interesting new article just published in JAMA Health Forum. This research was authored by Vandana Macha, Rahi Abouk and Coleman Drake. Here is its abstract:

Importance  In the US, cannabis use has nearly doubled during the past decade, in part because states have implemented recreational cannabis laws (RCLs).  However, it is unclear how legalization of adult-use cannabis may affect alcohol consumption.

Objective  To estimate the association between implementation of state RCLs and alcohol use among adults in the US.

Design, Settings, and Participants  This was a cross-sectional study of 4.2 million individuals who responded to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2010 to 2019.  A difference-in-differences approach with demographic and policy controls was used to estimate the association between RCLs and alcohol use, overall and by age, sex, race and ethnicity, and educational level.  Data analyses were performed from June 2021 to March 2022.

Exposures  States with RCLs, as reported by the RAND−University of Southern California Schaeffer Opioid Policy Tools and Information Center.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Past-month alcohol use, binge drinking, and heavy drinking.

Results  Of 4.2 million respondents (median age group, 50-64 years; 2 476 984 [51.7%] women; 2 978 467 [58.3%] non-Hispanic White individuals) in 2010 through 2019, 321 921 individuals lived in state-years with recreational cannabis laws.  Recreational cannabis laws were associated with a 0.9 percentage point (95% CI, 0.1-1.7; P = .02) increase in any alcohol drinking but were not significantly associated with binge or heavy drinking.  Increases in any alcohol use were primarily among younger adults (18-24 years) and men, as well as among non-Hispanic White respondents and those without any college education.  A 1.4 percentage point increase (95% CI, 0.4-2.3; P = .006) in binge drinking was also observed among men, although this association diminished over time.

Conclusions and Relevance  This cross-sectional study and difference-in-differences analysis found that recreational cannabis laws in the US may be associated with increased alcohol use, primarily among younger adults and men.

November 18, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Leafly "Harvest Report 2022" declares cannabis as "America’s 6th largest crop"

The folks at Leafly this week have released this interesting "Cannabis Harvest Report 2022" with an accounting of cannabis farming across the US. Here is part of the start of the report's discussion:

Legal cannabis now supports more than 13,200 American farms in 15 adult-use states. With a wholesale value of $5 billion, recreational marijuana is America's 6th most valuable cash crop, worth more than potatoes or rice....

American cannabis farmers are growing an awesome wave of legal green that weighs some 2,834 metric tons, according to the Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report 2022.

There are now 15 states where adults can go into a state-licensed store and buy legal cannabis.  Those 15 states now support 13,297 active legal cannabis farms, which in turn support farm families, communities, and tens of thousands of full-time workers.

Yet this legal crop is missing from USDA reports on agriculture.  That's a significant omission with real implications.  Americans want to end the Drug War and move consumers to a legal, taxed, and tested crop.  Voters and community leaders need production, price, licensing, and crop value data to measure our progress. Regulators in some states cannot supply the most basic fact about their cannabis markets: “How much pot did you grow?”  To find the answer, Leafly estimated it for the second year in a row.

The story in 2022 is all about rising production and falling prices. As the legal harvest continued to ramp up in legal states, the average price of cannabis fell over the past twelve months, yielding an adult-use cannabis crop worth $5 billion in wholesale value.

That makes legal cannabis the sixth most valuable crop in the US. Only corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, and cotton bring in more money on a wholesale basis.

Farmers grew 24% more metric tons of adult-use cannabis this year, compared to the year measured in the 2021 Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report. To get a sense of the volume of the past year's cannabis harvest, 2,834 metric tons would fill nearly 15,000 dump trucks lined up end-to-end for up for 45 miles.

We’re only counting the 15 active adult-use states, not the dozens of medical-only states, or crops grown to supply the illicit market.  That total number would be about 3 to 5 times larger.

Leafly’s report is a synthesis of licensing records with state cannabis production totals, sales and tax reports, commercial price trends, field measurements, US Department of Agriculture crop values, and expert interviews.

November 2, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

An (aggravating) accounting of post-legalization marijuana arrest data in Virginia

Marijuana-Arrests-US-1990-2020.jpg-e1633019074986-1536x710I just saw this notable (and annoying) new Washington Post piece discussing arrest data for marijuana offenses in Virginia in the wake of the state's legalization reforms.  The piece is headlined "After Virginia legalized pot, majority of defendants are still Black," and here are its first two paragraphs:

A year after Virginia lawmakers legalized recreational marijuana with hopes of lessening racial disparities in enforcement, police in the state are still more likely to arrest Black people than White people for marijuana-related offenses, a Washington Post analysis found.

While marijuana arrests overall dropped in the year since Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize, Black adults accounted for nearly 60 percent of marijuana-related cases before the state’s general district and circuit courts, an analysis of marijuana-related code citations in the state’s court system concluded, despite Black people accounting for about 20 percent of the state population.

Then, only after nine more paragraphs discussing Virginia's reform, policing practices and structural enforcement dynamics, we get this further accounting (my emphasis added):

While overall marijuana-related citations dropped by about 90 percent in Virginia from 2019, those bearing the brunt of enforcement still face compounding repercussions, said Ashley Shapiro, a public defender in Richmond and criminal justice reform advocate with Justice Forward Virginia.  “Anytime there’s a criminal consequence it has foreseen and unforeseen consequences with getting a job, with applying for housing,” Shapiro said. “So there are a lot of collateral consequences, even in this time when it’s technically legalized.”

And then, starting with paragraph 21, we get some actual state-wide numbers:

The commonwealth decriminalized marijuana possession in 2020, leading to the first major dip in enforcement. In 2019, the state reported more than 26,000 marijuana-related adult arrests.  That figure dropped to more than 13,000 in 2020.  And for all of 2021 — which included the six months after legalization went into effect on July 1 — there were just over 2,000 marijuana-related arrests.

If I had any hair, this piece would lead me to want to tear it out.  For starters, the piece nowhere indicates what percentage of marijuana arrests involved Black adults before Virginia's recent legalization reform.  This ACLU accounting of pre-reform arrests in Virginia suggest that perhaps 70% or more involved Black persons.  So, even on a percentage basis, Virginia reforms seem to be helping with racial inequities in marijuana enforcement (and why the Post would not mention at least that bit of good news is a mystery).

But, much more important, the true and significant story is the 90%+ drop in overall arrests that the Post discovered.  So, if we want to focus just on the impact on Black people in Virginia, the real story is that in 2019 before reforms there were likely at least 18,000 marijuana-related arrests of Black adults in Virginia, whereas in 2021 after reforms there were only about 1,200 marijuana-related arrests of Black adults in Virginia.  Put other way, the real racial justice headline should be that well over 15,000 fewer Black people in Virginia were subject to marijuana arrests and all the collateral consequences thanks to state reforms (and that's just from a single year of data).

The Post's report here is frustrating in part because it would be foolish for anyone to believe that any and all racial disparities in enforcement would instantly evaporate with legalization reforms.  But it is even more frustrating because any and all sensible reform advocates are rightly focused on reducing overall criminalization of marijuana use in part because racial disparities have been so profound and so entrenched.  Sigh.

October 18, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Notable new report explores "The Pros and Cons of Cannabis Taxes"

Cannabis-taxes-1030x386The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center this past week released this notable extended report titled "The Pros and Cons of Cannabis Taxes" authored by Richard Auxier and Nikhita Airi.  Here is the report's abstract:

While 19 states have enacted a tax on recreational marijuana, there is no standard cannabis tax in the US the way there is an alcohol tax, cigarette tax, and gas tax.  Instead, governments use three different types of cannabis taxes: a percentage-of-price tax, a weight-based tax, and a potency-based tax.  Different states use different taxes and some states levy multiple taxes.  Additionally, some state and local governments levy their general sales tax on the purchase of marijuana.  This report is a guide for policymakers, journalists, and engaged community members hoping to better understand cannabis tax debates.  It details each state’s cannabis tax system, provides data on cannabis tax revenue, explains the pros and cons of different cannabis taxes, and discusses the various goals of those taxes.

And here is part of the report's conclusion:

After nearly a decade of legal and taxable sales, it is clear that cannabis taxes can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for state and local governments.  However, recent revenue declines in five states, each with a distinct cannabis tax system, underscore that revenue growth is not limitless and that various factors can affect what governments collect from year to year.

We know that overly complex and burdensome tax systems, like the pre-reform taxes in California, can depress the evolution of legal marijuana markets.  However, we also know that some states, like Washington, can create highly effective markets even with relatively high tax rates.

We know that taxes based on weight and potency could possibly help policymakers achieve important goals like producing more consistent tax revenue and discouraging the use of possibly dangerously potent products. However, we also know that these taxes can drive up costs and create significant burdens for legal sellers....

Ultimately, as new states enact taxes on marijuana and states with existing tax systems consider reforms, policymakers should use existing evidence to make informed choices that align their goals with their taxes.  But state and local cannabis tax policy remains anything but simple and predictable.  Policymakers across the country should also prepare to monitor, study, and reform these taxes as events develop and we learn more.

October 1, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

DEPC's 2022–23 Marijuana and Drug Policy Research Grant Call for Proposals

I am very excited that Ohio State's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) is continuing its regular research grant program to fund work specifically in the marijuana and drug policy research/policy space. Here is the link to the DEPC grants page along with an overview of the call for proposals this year:  

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) invites researchers and policy experts from universities, government agencies and independent research centers in the United States to submit proposals for funded research or policy analysis focused on implementation and policy impacts of marijuana legalization and other emerging topics in drug enforcement and policy.  We are specifically interested in research addressing questions related to criminal justice administration, public health, and public safety, as well as their various intersections.

This year’s call for proposals encompasses two different tracks: traditional research projects (maximum award of $25,000) and policy analysis/model policy creation (maximum award of $10,000).  In selection for funding, we are likely to prioritize shorter-term research projects (e.g., completed before end of 2023) that can help inform the work of lawmakers, regulators and advocates eager to promote evidence-based best practices and policies in emerging and future reforms efforts.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Impacts of marijuana reform and other drug decriminalization efforts on criminal case processing and law enforcement work including resource allocation, changes to existing arrest/charging/sentencing practices, use of fines and fees for enforcement, and broader effects on crime, clearance rates and community relations.
  • Study and evaluation of present expungement and record relief efforts focusing particularly on marijuana offenses and other drug crimes and the impact of new laws and practices on affected populations.
  • Impacts and attitudes toward various drug reform efforts in specific neighborhoods/communities defined by geography, political affiliation, social-economic status, and/or other demographics.
  • Cost-benefit analyses of marijuana legalization/decriminalization policies, with a focus on economic development and budgetary impacts resulting from reforms such as tax revenues, law enforcement expenditures, treatment costs and regulatory expenses.

A fuller overview is available in this detailed document and the deadline for submissions is January 15, 2023, but proposals will be considered on a rolling basis.  Submit complete proposals to Jana Hrdinová at hrdinova.1  @  osu.edu.

September 13, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

How can we best answer this question: "Does marijuana legalization bring crime?"

Audacy News has this notable new piece headlined "Does marijuana legalization bring crime?  The data may surprise you."  Unfortunately, the piece does not provide a lot of new or sophisticated data on this important question, but the article still is a useful review of the debate over marijuana reform and public safety.  Here are short excerpts from the lengthy piece:

Looking back on a decade of data, did any of the dire predictions come true about weed mania? The short answer appears to be 'no.' If anything, states with legal weed have had declining rates of overall crime.

For the purposes of this study, Audacy used the numbers publicly available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Data Explorer website. Then we honed in on the year of legalization for all 17 states (and D.C.) and looked at the year prior and the year following legalization.

What we found: There wasn’t much change. Certainly not enough change was evident to warrant making it a key talking-point either for or against legalization.... It seems the definitive answer to this continuing question is that there isn’t one.

For a host of reasons, research on the relationships between marijuana reform and crime presents a host of challenges.  But, as highlighted in this post at my other blog, I am helping with an event that looks to explore and tackle some of these challenges.

Related posting:

Call for Papers: "Drugs and Public Safety: Exploring the Impact of Policy, Policing, and Prosecutorial Reforms" 

August 16, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

"Synthetic cannabinoid poisonings and access to the legal cannabis market: findings from US national poison centre data 2016–2019"

The title of this this post is the title of this notable new research just published in the journal Clinical Toxicology.  Here is its abstract:

Aim

To investigate trends in synthetic cannabinoid exposures reported to United States (US) poison control centres, and their association with status of state cannabis legalisation.

Methods

A retrospective study of National Poison Data System (NPDS) data from 2016 to 2019 identified and associated synthetic poisoning reports with annual state cannabis law and market status. State status was categorised as restrictive (cannabis illegal or limited medical legalisation), medical (allowing THC-containing medical cannabis use) and permissive (allowing non-medical use of THC-containing cannabis by adults).  We categorised a subset of states with permissive policies by their implementation of legal adult possession/use and opening retail markets, on a quarterly basis.  Mixed-effects Poisson regression models assessed synthetic exposures associated with legal status, first among all states using annual counts, and then among states that implemented permissive law alone using quarterly counts.

Results

A total of 7600 exposures were reported during the study period.  Overall, reported synthetic exposures declined over time.  Most reported exposures (64.8%) required medical attention, and 61 deaths were documented.  State implementation of medical cannabis law was associated with 13% fewer reported annual exposures.  Adoption of permissive state cannabis policy was independently and significantly associated with 37% lower reported annual synthetic exposures, relative to restrictive policies (IRR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.50–0.79).  Among states with permissive law during the period, implementation of legal adult possession/use was associated with 22% fewer reported quarterly exposures.  Opening of retail markets was associated with 36% fewer reported exposures, relative to states with medical cannabis only.

Conclusions

Adoption of permissive cannabis law was associated with significant reductions in reported synthetic cannabinoid exposures.  More permissive cannabis law may have the unintended benefit of reducing both motivation and harms associated with use of synthetic cannabis products.

August 9, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

"Association of cannabis potency with mental ill health and addiction: a systematic review"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new article published this week online at The Lancet Psychiatry authored by multiple researchers. Here is its summary:

Cannabis potency, defined as the concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has increased internationally, which could increase the risk of adverse health outcomes for cannabis users.  We present, to our knowledge, the first systematic review of the association of cannabis potency with mental health and addiction (PROSPERO, CRD42021226447).  We searched Embase, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE (from database inception to Jan 14, 2021). Included studies were observational studies of human participants comparing the association of high-potency cannabis (products with a higher concentration of THC) and low-potency cannabis (products with a lower concentration of THC), as defined by the studies included, with depression, anxiety, psychosis, or cannabis use disorder (CUD).

Of 4171 articles screened, 20 met the eligibility criteria: eight studies focused on psychosis, eight on anxiety, seven on depression, and six on CUD.  Overall, use of higher potency cannabis, relative to lower potency cannabis, was associated with an increased risk of psychosis and CUD.  Evidence varied for depression and anxiety.  The association of cannabis potency with CUD and psychosis highlights its relevance in health-care settings, and for public health guidelines and policies on cannabis sales.  Standardisation of exposure measures and longitudinal designs are needed to strengthen the evidence of this association.

July 27, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

"Changes in Traffic Crash Rates After Legalization of Marijuana: Results by Crash Severity"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new article published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs and authored by Charles M. Farmer, Samuel S. Monfort and Amber N. Woods. Here is its abstract:

Objective:

The objective of this study was to estimate the effects of marijuana legalization and the subsequent onset of retail sales on injury and fatal traffic crash rates in the United States during the period 2009–2019.

Method:

State-by-state quarterly crash rates per mile of travel were modeled as a function of time, unemployment rate, maximum posted speed limit, seat belt use rate, alcohol use rate, percent of miles driven on rural roads, and indicators of legalized recreational marijuana use and sales.

Results:

Legalization of the recreational use of marijuana was associated with a 6.5% increase in injury crash rates and a 2.3% increase in fatal crash rates, but the subsequent onset of retail marijuana sales did not elicit additional substantial changes.  Thus, the combined effect of legalization and retail sales was a 5.8% increase in injury crash rates and a 4.1% increase in fatal crash rates.  Across states, the effects on injury crash rates ranged from a 7% decrease to an 18% increase.  The effects on fatal crash rates ranged from a 10% decrease to a 4% increase.

Conclusions:

The estimated increases in injury and fatal crash rates after recreational marijuana legalization are consistent with earlier studies, but the effects varied across states.  Because this is an early look at the time trends, researchers and policymakers need to continue monitoring the data.

July 24, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2022

"Maximizing social equity as a pillar of public administration: An examination of cannabis dispensary licensing in Pennsylvania"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Alfred Lee Hannah, Daniel J. Mallinson and Lauren Azevedo published in the Public Administration Review. (For the record, this research was supported by funding from the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.)   Here is the paper's abstract:

Public administration upholds four pillars of an administrative practice: economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and social equity.  The question arises, however, how do administrators balance effectiveness and social equity when implementing policy?  Can the values contributing to administrative decisions be measured?

This study leverages the expansion of medical cannabis programs in the states to interrogate these questions.  The awarding of dispensary licenses in Pennsylvania affords the ability to determine the effect of social equity scoring on license award decisions, relative to criteria that represent the other pillars.  The results show that safety and business acumen were the most important determining factors in the awarding of licenses, both effectiveness concerns.  Social equity does not emerge as a significant determinant until the second round of licensing.  This study then discusses the future of social equity provisions for cannabis policy, as well as what the findings mean for social equity in public administration.

July 11, 2022 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2022

"What Tax Revenues Should Ohioans Expect If Ohio Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis?"

The title of this post is the title of this new report available via SSRN and produced by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and authored by Jana Hrdinova and Dexter Ridgway. Here is its abstract:

Advocates for cannabis reform in Ohio and in other states often stress the tax revenue that can be raised through legalization.  If a citizen-initiated statute currently under consideration in the Ohio General Assembly were to reach the ballot, Ohio voters are likely to hear from reform advocates about the potential tax revenue a new cannabis industry could bring to the Buckeye State.  The purpose of this policy paper is to provide an initial estimate of potential cannabis tax revenue in Ohio that is informed by tax revenue data and trends from a select group of other adult-use states.

Based on our analysis, we are using Michigan FY 2021 data on cannabis tax revenue as our focal point for Ohio cannabis tax revenue estimates given the demographic and tax structure similarities; we are assuming a conservative rate of diminishing retail sales growth through year five of an operational legal adult-use program; we are using state population figures as our basis for calculating per capita cannabis tax revenue rates; and we are modeling for three different Ohio pricing scenarios.  Given these assumptions, the potential annual tax revenue from adult-use cannabis in the state of Ohio ranges from $276 million in year five of an operational cannabis market to $374 million in year five of operations.

April 18, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

New Leafly report concludes "legal cannabis now supports 321,000 full-time American jobs"

Email-A1-ChartA_mobile-584x354-1The folks at Leafly have this notable new report seeking to address this basic question: "How many jobs are in America’s legal cannabis industry?" Here is part of the answer:

The 2022 Leafly Jobs Report found 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs supported by legal cannabis as of January 2022.  In the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, America’s cannabis industry sold nearly $25 billion in products and created more than 107,000 new jobs — enough to fill the Rose Bowl and then some.

That’s a 33% increase in jobs in a single year.  And it marks the fifth year in a row of annual job growth greater than 27%. No other industry in America can match that.  Last year, America’s legal cannabis industry created more than 280 new jobs every day.  In 2021, someone was hired for a cannabis-supported job about every 2 minutes of the work day....

Those 428,059 jobs include direct cannabis jobs like cultivation and retail sales — what are often called “plant-touching jobs” — as well as indirect ancillary jobs that serve licensed companies or depend on legal cannabis sales. Ancillary jobs include work in accounting, human resources, legal affairs, regulatory compliance, security, maintenance, and construction.  Also included are indirect jobs in cannabis media, technology platforms, public relations, lobbying, non-cannabis product suppliers, and industry associations....

America now has three times as many cannabis workers as dentists.  Cannabis workers outnumber insurance salespeople. There are more people employed in the cannabis industry than there are hair stylists, barbers, and cosmetologists—combined....

While legal cannabis now supports 428,059 jobs, the total employment potential in a mature US legal cannabis market is approximately 1.5 million to 1.75 million workers.  The economic and employment potential for legal cannabis remains quite bright for many years to come.

February 23, 2022 in Employment and labor law issues, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 27, 2022

"Societal Costs and Outcomes of Medical and Recreational Marijuana Policies in the United States: A Systematic Review"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new research in the journal Medical Care Research and Review authored by Michael French, Julia Zukerberg, Tara Lewandowski, Katrina Piccolo and Karoline Mortensen.  Here is its abstract:

Significant support exists in the United States for legalization of marijuana/cannabis.  As of 2021, 36 states and four territories approved the legalization of medical cannabis via medical marijuana laws (MMLs), and 15 states and District of Columbia (DC) have adopted recreational marijuana laws (RMLs).  We performed structured and systematic searches of articles published from 2010 through September 2021.  We assess the literature pertaining to adolescent marijuana use; opioid use and opioid-related outcomes; alcohol use; tobacco use; illicit and other drug use; marijuana growing and cultivation; employment, earnings, and other workplace outcomes; academic achievement and performance; criminal activity; perceived harmfulness; traffic and road safety; and suicide and sexual activity.  Overall, 113 articles satisfied our inclusion criteria.  Except for opioids, studies on use of other substances (illicit drugs, tobacco, and alcohol) were inconclusive. MMLs and RMLs do not generate negative outcomes in the labor market, lead to greater criminal activity, or reduce traffic and road safety.

January 27, 2022 in Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 6, 2022

MPP provides new accounting of "Cannabis Tax Revenue in States that Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use"

Taxes051816The Marijuana Policy Project has this notable new online report under the heading "Cannabis Tax Revenue in States that Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use."   The report provides a state-by-state accounting of public tax revenue data, and it sets up the discussion this way:

Legalizing cannabis for adults has been a wise investment.  Since 2014 when sales began in Colorado and Washington, legalization policies have provided states a new revenue stream to bolster budgets and fund important services and programs.  As of December 2021, states reported a combined total of $10.4 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales.  In addition to revenue generated for statewide budgets, cities and towns have also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue from local adult-use cannabis taxes.

Eighteen states have laws that legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older (the 2020 voter-approved adult-use legalization law in South Dakota was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court in November 2021).  Eight of the laws were approved in 2020 or 2021, and in seven of those states, sales and tax collections have not yet begun.  This document reviews each state’s adult-use cannabis tax structure, population, and revenue from legalization.  These figures do not include medical cannabis tax revenue, application and licensing fees paid by cannabis businesses, additional income taxes generated by workers in the cannabis industry, or corporate taxes paid to the federal government.

The last line of this introduction highlights why this review in necessarily an under-reporting of state revenues generated by legalization regimes.

January 6, 2022 in Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 3, 2022

"Cannabis decriminalization and racial disparity in arrests for cannabis possession"

The title of this post is the title of this encouraging new research in the January 2022 issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.  This piece is authored by Christian Gunadi and Yuyan Shi, and here is its abstract:

Rationale

Minorities often bear the brunt of unequal enforcement of drug laws. In the U.S., Blacks have been disproportionately more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than Whites despite a similar rate of cannabis use. Decriminalizing cannabis has been argued as a way to reduce racial disparity in cannabis possession arrests. To date, however, the empirical evidence to support this argument is almost non-existent.

Objectives

To examine whether cannabis decriminalization was associated with reduced racial disparity in arrests for cannabis possession between Blacks and Whites in the U.S.

Methods

Using FBI Uniform Crime Report data from 37 U.S. states, cannabis possession arrest rates were calculated separately for Blacks and Whites from 2000 to 2019.  A difference-in-differences framework was used to estimate the association between cannabis decriminalization and racial disparity in cannabis possession arrest rates (Blacks/Whites ratio) among adults and youths.

Results

Cannabis possession arrest rates declined over 70% among adults and over 40% among youths after the implementation of cannabis decriminalization in 11 states. Among adults, decriminalization was associated with a roughly 17% decrease in racial disparity in arrest rates between Blacks and Whites.  Among youths, arrest rates declined among both Blacks and Whites but there was no evidence for a change in racial disparity between Blacks and Whites following decriminalization.

Conclusions

Cannabis decriminalization was associated with substantially lower cannabis possession arrest rates among both adults and youths and among both Blacks and Whites.  It reduced racial disparity between Blacks and Whites among adults but not youths.  These findings suggested that cannabis decriminalization had its intended consequence of reducing arrests and may have potential to reduce racial disparity in arrests at least among adults.

January 3, 2022 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | 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)

Sunday, October 17, 2021

"Smoke and Fears: The Effects of Marijuana Prohibition on Crime"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new working paper authored by Scott Callahan, David M. Bruner and Chris Giguere. Here is its abstract:

U.S. drug policy presumes prohibition reduces crime.  Recently states have enacted medical marijuana laws creating a natural experiment to test this hypothesis but is impeded by severe measurement error with available data.  We develop a novel imputation procedure to reduce measurement error bias and estimate significant reductions in violent and property crime rates, with heterogeneous effects across and within states and types of crime, contradicting drug prohibition policy.  We demonstrate uncorrected measurement error or assuming homogeneous policy effects leads to underestimation of crime reduction from ending marijuana prohibition.

And here is a key paragraph from the paper's introduction:

Our results indicate that MMLs result in significant reductions in both violent and property crime rates, with larger effects in Mexican border states.  While these results for violent crime rates are consistent with previously reported evidence (Gavrilova et al., 2017), we are the first paper to report such an effect on property crime as well.  Moreover, the estimated effects of MMLs on property crime rates are substantially larger, which is not surprising given property crimes are more prevalent.  We also find novel evidence consistent with our hypothesis that MMLs reduce violent crime rates more in urban counties compared to rural counties, contrary to previous estimates (Chu and Townsend, 2019).  We attribute this result to greater conflict between producers in urban counties under prohibition.  Overall, our results are consistent with the need for market participants to create de facto property rights under prohibition, often through the use of violence.  Our results are also consistent with prohibition causing a diversion of scarce policing resources, which when reallocated have the greatest impact on more pervasive types of crime and in locations where crime rates are higher.  These findings demonstrate both the importance of accounting for heterogeneous policy effects on crime and the necessity to correct for measurement error in crime data when conducting policy analysis.

October 17, 2021 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 3, 2021

"Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for reducing health harms from non-medical cannabis use: A comprehensive evidence and recommendations update"

The title of this post is the title of this new article by multiple authored appearing in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Here is its abstract:

Background

Cannabis use is common, especially among young people, and is associated with risks for various health harms.  Some jurisdictions have recently moved to legalization/regulation pursuing public health goals.  Evidence-based ‘Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines’ (LRCUG) and recommendations were previously developed to reduce modifiable risk factors of cannabis-related adverse health outcomes; related evidence has evolved substantially since.  We aimed to review new scientific evidence and to develop comprehensively up-to-date LRCUG, including their recommendations, on this evidence basis.

Methods

Targeted searches for literature (since 2016) on main risk factors for cannabis-related adverse health outcomes modifiable by the user-individual were conducted.  Topical areas were informed by previous LRCUG content and expanded upon current evidence. Searches preferentially focused on systematic reviews, supplemented by key individual studies.  The review results were evidence-graded, topically organized and narratively summarized; recommendations were developed through an iterative scientific expert consensus development process.

Results

A substantial body of modifiable risk factors for cannabis use-related health harms were identified with varying evidence quality.  Twelve substantive recommendation clusters and three precautionary statements were developed.  In general, current evidence suggests that individuals can substantially reduce their risk for adverse health outcomes if they delay the onset of cannabis use until after adolescence, avoid the use of high-potency (THC) cannabis products and high-frequency/-intensity of use, and refrain from smoking-routes for administration.  While young people are particularly vulnerable to cannabis-related harms, other sub-groups (e.g., pregnant women, drivers, older adults, those with co-morbidities) are advised to exercise particular caution with use-related risks.  Legal/regulated cannabis products should be used where possible.

Conclusions

Cannabis use can result in adverse health outcomes, mostly among sub-groups with higher-risk use.  Reducing the risk factors identified can help to reduce health harms from use.  The LRCUG offer one targeted intervention component within a comprehensive public health approach for cannabis use.  They require effective audience-tailoring and dissemination, regular updating as new evidence become available, and should be evaluated for their impact.

September 3, 2021 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

"Recreational Cannabis Legalization and Alcohol Purchasing: A Difference-in-Differences Analysis"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new research by Collin Calvert and Darin Erickson now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

Background:  Whether recreational cannabis legalization is associated with changes in alcohol consumption (suggesting a potential substitution or complementary relationship) is a key question as cannabis policy evolves, particularly given the adverse health and social effects of alcohol use.  Relatively little research has explored this question.

Methods This study examined the association between recreational cannabis legalization and alcohol purchasing in the U.S. using an interrupted time series design. We used data from the Nielsen Consumer Panel (2004-2017) from 69,761 households in all 50 states to calculate monthly milliliters of pure ethanol purchased for four beverage categories (beer, wine, spirits, and all alcohol products). We used difference-in-differences models and robust cluster standard errors to compare changes in milliliters of pure ethanol purchased.  We fit models for each beverage category, comparing three “policy” states that have legalized recreational cannabis (Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) to states that had not legalized recreational cannabis.  In one set of models, a single control state was selected that matched pre-policy purchasing trends in the policy states.  In another set, policy states were compared to all states that had not legalized recreational cannabis.

Results:  Compared to all other states that did not legalize recreational cannabis, Colorado households showed a 13% average monthly decrease in purchases of all alcoholic products combined (estimate: 0.87; CI: 0.77, 0.98) and a 6% decrease in wine (0.94; CI: 0.89, 0.99).  Estimates in Washington were suggestive of an increase in spirits purchased in both the unrestricted (1.24; CI: 1.12, 1.37) and restricted sample (1.18; CI: 1.02, 1.36).  Oregon showed a significant decrease in monthly spirits purchased when compared to its selected comparator state (0.87; CI: 0.77, 0.99) and to all other states without legalized recreational cannabis (0.85; CI: 0.77, 0.95).

Conclusions Results suggest that alcohol and cannabis are not clearly substitutes nor complements to one-another.  Future studies should examine additional states as more time passes and more post-legalization data becomes available, use cannabis purchase data and consider additional methods for control selection in quasi-experimental studies. 

July 22, 2021 in Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)