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

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

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Attitudes of Veterans/Active Military, Family Members of Veterans, and Non-Military Individuals on the Legalization of Marijuana and Other Substances for Recreational Use
Abstract Summary

Polling has shown that, over time, public opinion favoring the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults has grown. Other research has explored public opinion on the legalization of psychedelics, and has compared perceived risks of various illegal substances (e.g., LSD versus heroin). However, little research has focused on exploring differences in perceptions across one’s veteran status. Utilizing a survey of veterans/active military, family members of veterans, and non-military individuals, we built upon the existing literature by exploring whether perceptions regarding the recreational legalization of various substances varied across veteran status. Results showed that a majority of individuals, regardless of their veteran status category, supported the legalization of recreational marijuana. The results also showed that a majority of veteran families and non-military individuals supported the legalization of recreational psychedelics (the veteran/active military support level was approximately 40%). Finally, a large majority of respondents from all veteran status categories did not support the legalization of cocaine and heroin for recreational use. Overall, these results indicate differing levels of support depending on drug type and whether one is a veteran/active military, a family member of a veteran, or non-military.

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Attitudes on Marijuana and Psychedelics as a Treatment Option for Veterans
Abstract Summary

Many mental and physical health issues are prominent within the veteran community. Given the prevalence of health issues within the veteran community and the need for a wide range of treatment options, some researchers have started to explore whether and how veteran populations should have access to alternative treatment options such as marijuana and psychedelics. Additionally, some researchers have started to explore perceptions of alternative treatment options such as marijuana and psychedelics among military and veteran populations. Studies of veteran views on these issues, however, have not closely explored how veteran perspectives on certain drug issues compare directly to those in their immediate and broader community. Consequently, the current study sought to examine differences in attitudes towards marijuana and psychedelics as treatment options among veterans, family members of veterans, and non-military individuals. Our results indicated that a sizeable majority of respondents supported the use of marijuana as a treatment option, and that many respondents supported the use of psychedelics as a treatment option. That said, the results of this study also indicated that active and veteran military personnel remain somewhat less supportive in their viewpoints about use of historically illicit drugs as a medical treatment when compared to their family members and the general population.

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Marijuana Reform and Taxes: How States Tax Adult Use Cannabis and Spend Resulting Revenue
Abstract Summary

On November 7, 2023, Ohio voters approved a ballot initiative (known as Issue 2) to make Ohio the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The newly enacted statute, which becomes effective on December 7, 2023, establishes Chapter 3780 within the Ohio Revised Code. Among other things, the new law specifies how recreational marijuana will be taxed and how the resulting tax revenue will be allocated. Members of the Ohio General Assembly and Governor Mike DeWine have expressed interest in possible revisions to the ballot initiative’s tax rate and tax revenue allocations. This report seeks to inform discussion on these issues by detailing how the Ohio initiative’s tax and revenue structures compare to the other 23 states that have already fully legalized marijuana.

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Did Michigan’s Legalization of Recreational Marijuana and Ohio’s Legalization of Medical Marijuana Increase Marijuana OVI Arrests in Ohio?
Abstract Summary

The current study used Ohio State Highway Patrol data to explore whether Michigan’s legalization of recreational marijuana and Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana increased arrests for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) by marijuana in Ohio. Overall, a conservative examination of the results did not support the hypothesis that Michigan’s legalization of recreational marijuana and Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana increased marijuana OVI arrests in Ohio. However, strong conclusions should not be drawn from this study as the results must be replicated using data from other Ohio law enforcement agencies and perhaps extended time periods. Additionally, our results may not be generalizable to other outcomes such as OVI-related crashes.

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The Role of Small Business in the Evolving Cannabis Industry
Abstract Summary

This paper, by DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner and Founder and Director of Parabola Center Shaleen Title and coauthor Bruce Barcott, argues that small cannabis businesses foster local economic growth and contribute to the public good. Additional research is necessary, particularly to compare findings from states that are already taking measures to safeguard and financially support specific types of small businesses. In the interim, they recommend the exploration of immediate solutions, beginning with (1) access to SBA loans, (2) systematic data collection and potential expansion of state measures such as fee waivers and licensing prioritization, and (3) consideration of lower-cost regulations for small businesses. Various relevant federal bills are listed and briefly analyzed in the Appendix.

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Fair: What the F in SAFE Stands For: An Analysis of the Latest Version of the SAFE Banking Act and Ongoing Efforts to Promote Fairness in Cannabis Banking
Abstract Summary

This paper, authored by Cat Packer, DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner and Drug Policy Alliance Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation, reviews federal laws and approaches to cannabis banking, including the SAFE Banking Act of 2021 and notable changes in the SAFE Banking Act of 2023. Particular focus is placed on amendments seeking to promote banking that is fair. This analysis details how efforts to advocate for provisions promoting fairness in marijuana banking have led to minor but meaningful amendments to the SAFE Banking Act of 2023. It also identifies ongoing opportunities to ensure that banking is fair and accessible for all.

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

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

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Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at Five Years: Evaluating Satisfaction and Perception
Abstract Summary

This report traces the evolution of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) since its inception in January 2019 to date. In addition to providing information about the growth of OMMCP in respect to sales, sales receipts and taxes collected, the report provides survey results focused on OMMCP patients’ and prospective patients’ satisfaction levels with the functioning and design of the program. While overall satisfaction levels are rising, patients continue to voice concerns about some aspects of the medical marijuana program, including the price of cannabis products in Ohio dispensaries, lack of legal protections for patients, and the cost and difficulty of obtaining OMMCP patient card. Similar to last year’s report, the final section includes recommendations for policy and regulatory changes that could have positive impact on patients’ satisfaction with OMMCP and provides information on which of these policy recommendations would be addressed should the November 2023 ballot initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis in Ohio pass.

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What Tax Revenues Should Ohioans Expect If Ohio Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis? (2023 Update)
Abstract Summary

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 were to reach the November 2023 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 updated 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 using three different scenarios for 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 updated 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 $403 million in year five of operations.

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Weeding out the Truth: A Survey Experiment on the Role of Scientific Evidence in Shaping Public Opinion on Marijuana Policy (coauthored by DEPC Affiliated Scholar, Peter Leasure)
Abstract Summary

This study aims to explore the extent to which different forms of scientific research on the criminogenic effects of marijuana use impact public opinion on marijuana-related policy issues. Our findings reveal that, except for the policy regarding the immediate release of a convicted offender, scientific research on the criminogenic effects of marijuana use did not significantly or substantively influence public perceptions of cannabis policies.

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An Equity Action Plan for Marijuana: The Biden Administration’s Opportunity to Advance Equity Through Cannabis Reform
Abstract Summary

This paper, authored by Cat Packer, DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner and Drug Policy Alliance Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation, examines the Biden Administration’s executive orders on equity, its position on marijuana reform before and after President Biden’s related October 2022 statement, and it's repeated statements acknowledging both cannabis criminalization’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latino communities and marijuana reform as an opportunity to advance equity. Moreover, this paper critiques the omission of marijuana reform within the Biden Administration’s Equity Action Plans and highlights the opportunity for the Biden Administration to use its existing executive orders on equity as a framework to understand and address how marijuana laws and policies create barriers for underserved communities through the development of an equity action plan for marijuana reform.

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Enforcing Marijuana Prohibitions: Prosecutorial Policy in Four States
Abstract Summary

As more states have legalized and decriminalized marijuana, the enforcement of criminal laws prohibiting the personal possession of marijuana has become more controversial in states where cannabis remains illegal. Yet, very little is understood about how other prosecutors enforce criminal prohibitions on the personal possession of marijuana. This study, co-authored by the Prosecutors and Politics Project and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, aims to fill this gap. It systematically examines prosecutorial enforcement of laws prohibiting the personal possession of marijuana in four states that have not legalized medical or adult-use marijuana. The study had four major goals: (1) to determine what enforcement policies had been adopted by incumbent prosecutors, (2) to determine the enforcement platforms of candidates running for the office of local prosecutor, (3) to explore the reasons and reasoning behind those policies and platforms, and (4) to determine what information, if any, was accessible to voters about the issue.

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The Impact of Empirical Research on Public Opinion Regarding Marijuana-Related Policies
Abstract Summary

This study examined whether empirical research on the criminogenic effects of marijuana use differentially influenced public opinion on marijuana-related policy issues. We utilized an experimental priming survey sent to head of households in South Carolina with an associated email address. Qualtrics software was used to distribute the survey. After deleting non-conforming cases, the final sample was 1,637. The randomized treatment conditions displayed (1) empirical research finding that marijuana use increases crime, (2) empirical research finding that marijuana use decreases crime, and (3) empirical research finding that marijuana use increases crime in some studies and decreases crime in other studies. Results indicated that our treatment conditions had some impact on public opinion. The overall responses to the survey suggested that the majority of South Carolina respondents have opinions that favor relaxation of penalties associated with personal use of marijuana and opinions that favor the legalization of personal use marijuana.

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Marijuana Legalization and Record Clearing in 2022
Abstract Summary

In the spring of 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Collateral Consequences Resource Center reported on an “unprecedented period for policymaking at the intersection of marijuana legalization and criminal record reform,” with four states legalizing marijuana possession and providing criminal record relief for past convictions along with a variety of social equity provisions. This trend has continued into 2022 with four additional states (Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, and Rhode Island) adopting similar record-clearing provisions in connection with adult-use cannabis legalization. All four states made at least some relief automatic, removing the burden of a criminal record from many individuals while raising the bar on standards for marijuana record relief nationwide. This report, produced by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center in collaboration with the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, summarizes the cannabis-specific record sealing and expungement provisions enacted since publication of our earlier report in the spring of 2021 in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri and Rhode Island. Additionally, we provide a 50-state classification and description of marijuana-specific record clearing statutes.

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Effects of Drug Policy Liberalization on Public Safety: A Review of the Literature
Abstract Summary

After decades of criminalization, cannabis policy has liberalized rapidly throughout the U.S. in the 21st century. Following cannabis legalization in Colorado and Washington, legalization has gained momentum in many other U.S. states. While some states have fully legalized recreational cannabis for adult use, others have only decriminalized or legalized medical use. These reforms may have significant effects on public safety and public health, and therefore have become a topic of considerable academic interest. This review summarizes extant literature on the effect of drug policy liberalization on crime, traffic safety, law enforcement, and racial disparities.

Overall, the literature suggests that cannabis legalization has resulted in some benefits to public health and public safety, even while some studies have produced mixed findings with regard to particular outcomes. Much of the literature regarding the impact of marijuana legalization on crime shows promising effects, including decreases in violent and property crime, reductions in drug-related arrests, and an improvement in crime clearance rates. Research on the relationship between cannabis policy liberalization and changes in traffic safety has produced mixed results, and while drug policy liberalization has the potential to reduce racial disparities, further changes are needed for those benefits to be achieved. Finally, all-drug decriminalization is associated with reductions in problematic drug use and criminal justice overcrowding, declines in youth drug use, and other health and social benefits, as evidenced by evaluations of Portugal’s policy and preliminary evidence in Oregon following decriminalization in 2020.

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The Changing Landscape of Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Charging in Columbus, Ohio: 2011–2021
Abstract Summary

In July 2019 Columbus City Council passed ordinances which significantly reduced punishment for possession of marijuana. Shortly after, at the beginning of August 2019, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced that his office would no longer prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession cases. Using a dataset of all misdemeanor cases from January 2011 through August 2021, we sought to review and assess changes in misdemeanor marijuana possession cases before and after the Columbus City Council reduced punishment for marijuana possession cases and City Attorney Klein’s announcement of the “no prosecution” policy. The data reveal a significant drop in the number of misdemeanor marijuana possession cases filed in the Franklin County Municipal Court, and that the adoption of the new policies had different impacts on the various law enforcement agencies that operate within the Franklin County boundaries. The data also suggests that the simultaneous implementation of a no-prosecute policy and adoption of lower penalties for marijuana possession might have reduced racial disparities in marijuana possession charges in Franklin County overall. This was mostly likely driven by the near complete cessation of marijuana possession charges originating from the Columbus Division of Police.

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Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at Four Years: Evaluating Satisfaction and Perception
Abstract Summary

This report, a fourth in an annual series, traces the evolution of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) over the last four years in terms of its growth and OMMCP patients’ and prospective patients’ satisfaction levels with the functioning and design of the program. For the first time, our survey finds respondents reporting being more satisfied with OMMCP than dissatisfied, an important milestone in OMMCP’s development. Nevertheless, the survey respondents continue to report dissatisfaction with some elements of the program, with the price of marijuana product being the most pressing concern, followed by lack of legal protections for patients and the cost and difficulty of obtaining OMMCP patient card. The final section of this report includes recommendations for policy and regulatory changes that could have positive impact on patients’ satisfaction with OMMCP.

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The Prevalence of Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Records in Columbus, Ohio
Abstract Summary

Efforts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana in many jurisdictions have often included discussion of the importance of providing enhanced relief mechanisms for those with records for low-level marijuana offenses. But these discussions often lack details on how many individuals, and the composition of individuals, who might benefit from such record relief. In this report, we estimate the prevalence of misdemeanor marijuana possession charges and conviction records among adult residents of Columbus, Ohio based on data drawn from the Franklin County Municipal Court and provide policy recommendations for implementing localized government-initiated record sealing initiatives.

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Regulating Cannabis Interstate Commerce: Perspectives on How the Federal Government Should Respond
Abstract Summary

This paper from DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence Shaleen Title and coauthors focuses on a key challenge of creating a legal, sensible cannabis industry from the ground up: how the federal government should rectify the ongoing conflict between state and federal law by regulating the interstate commerce of cannabis. This paper presents different perspectives on how the federal government should respond. The authors agree that federal legalization is perhaps inevitable. They also agree that the current patchwork of state legalization isn’t tenable. Some disagree on nuances and what mechanisms should be tweaked to ensure that the industry is built in a way that’s both fair and competitive for everyone.

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Not a SAFE Bet: Equitable Access to Cannabis Banking, An Analysis of the SAFE Banking Act
Abstract Summary

This paper from DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioners in Residence Shaleen Title and Cat Packer, along with fellow coauthors and members of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, addresses the Safe and Fair Enforcement ('SAFE') Banking Act. According to its sponsors and supporters, the SAFE Banking Act would help address the challenges faced by small cannabis businesses that cannot currently access banking services or loans. With cannabis social equity programs ramping up across the nation but their participants lacking capital, a bill to solve that problem would be a well-timed blessing. But unfortunately, SAFE, as written, is unlikely to result in equitable access to financial services. This paper summarizes the bill, analyzes why it would fall short of its purported goals, and makes recommendations to improve the bill.

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

Our report provides a preliminary 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 data-informed assumptions, we estimate the potential annual tax revenue from adult-use cannabis in the State of Ohio ranges from $276 million to $374 million in year five of an operational adult-use cannabis market should the tax revenue structure closely mirror the citizen-initiated ballot initiative that might be put in front of the voters in 2023.

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

This paper from DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence Shaleen Title 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. 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.

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

This paper from DEPC Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence Shaleen Title is designed to equip readers with practical advice about how to implement social equity. Included 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.

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How State Reforms Have Mellowed Federal Enforcement of Marijuana Prohibition
Abstract Summary

This paper from DEPC Executive Director Douglas A. Berman and Senior Research Associate Dr. Alex Fraga documents and examines critically the remarkable recent decline in the number of federal marijuana sentences imposed as states have begun fully legalizing marijuana for all uses by adults. The paper is forthcoming in the Fordham Urban Law Journal (March 2022).

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Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program at Three Years: Evaluating Satisfaction and Perception
Abstract Summary

This report traces the development of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) since the start of legal sales in January 2019 and documents continued dissatisfaction among patients and prospective patients. By gathering key program data and reporting on a new patient survey, this research fills gaps in our understanding of the OMMCP five years after becoming law.

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Marijuana legalization and expungement in early 2021
Abstract Summary

The Collateral Consequences Resource Center, with support from the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, produced a report and an accompanying infographic that summarize the groundbreaking criminal reforms enacted in early 2021 as part of marijuana legalization and situate them in the national context.

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From Medical to Recreational Marijuana: Lessons for States in Transition
Abstract Summary

This report documents lessons learned and decision-making behind the transition from medical to recreational cannabis in four states: Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Oregon. The purpose of this research is to provide actionable and concrete advice to states that are transitioning, or are planning for a transition, from a medical marijuana regime to an adult-use or recreational framework.

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Ensuring Marijuana Reform is Effective Criminal Justice Reform
Abstract Summary

This paper from DEPC Executive Director Douglas A. Berman and affiliated faculty member Alex Kreit discusses how Arizona should best advance marijuana legalization so that it can significantly improve Arizona’s criminal justice system.

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Struggling Through the Pandemic: Cannabis Social Equity During COVID-19
Abstract Summary

This report details the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small, minority-owned, and social equity businesses in the cannabis industry. The results indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced tremendous new challenges for the industry and exacerbated long-standing difficulties for businesses in this arena.

Event Recordings
$145K
Awarded to 2021-22 Marijuana and Drug Policy Grant Recipients
DEPC was pleased to grant nearly $145,000 to researchers across nine universities and independent research centers in the United States.
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Report
The Impact of Recreational Marijuana Laws on Marijuana Use Disorder during “Treat and Release” Visits to Hospital Emergency Departments, 2017-2020
Abstract Summary

Authored by 2021-22 Marijuana and Drug Policy Grant recipient Dr. Ellen Kurtzman, Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University.

This study makes several unique contributions. First, the study adds to what is known about the legalization emergency department (ED) relationship in the United States by extending research on this topic beyond a single-state sample. We used data from four states—Colorado, Oregon, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Additionally, instead of examining marijuana-related ED visits, which have been the focus of previous research, we examined the prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorder (MUD), a disorder that is known to be associated with adverse consequences. The study examined the prevalence of and trends in MUD among all patients who have “treat and release” visits to hospital emergency departments, assessed the relationship between states’ legalization of marijuana for recreational use and the prevalence of and trends in MUD in four states comparing the two that were legal for recreational marijuana to two that were illegal for recreational marijuana during the study period.

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Do Recreational Marijuana Laws Reduce Racial Disparities? Evidence from Criminal Arrests, Psychological Health, and Mortality
Abstract Summary

Authored by 2021-22 Marijuana and Drug Policy Grant recipient Joseph Sabia, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies (CHEPS) at San Diego State University.

Proponents of recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) argue that ending marijuana prohibition will reduce racial disparities in arrests and health. Using data from four national datasets (the Uniform Crime Reports, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the National Vital Statistics System Mortality Files) and a difference-in-differences approach, this study presents new evidence on the effects of RMLs on racial disparities in drug-related arrests, psychological health, and mortality.  First, we find that RML adoption is associated with a 2.1 per 1,000-person greater reduction in marijuana-related arrests among Black as compared to White adults.  However, this differential race-specific arrest rate reduction is entirely a reflection of pre-treatment racial differences in marijuana arrests.  In percentage terms (relative to pre-treatment arrest rates), RMLs did little to narrow racial disparities in arrests. Second, RML adoption — particularly when accompanied by open and legal recreational marijuana dispensaries — is associated with an increase in violent crime arrests among Blacks relative to Whites.  This result could suggest a racially targeted reallocation of policing resources to detect violent crime.  Finally, while RMLs do not appear to have a racially disparate impact on adult psychological health, we find stronger evidence that RMLs reduced drug-involved suicides and opioidrelated mortality among non-Hispanic Whites relative to racial/ethnic minorities.  We conclude that RMLs largely failed to reduce health- and crime-related disparities between Whites and racial/ethnic minorities. 

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Assessing the Status of Minors in Possession: Marijuana Versus Alcohol
Abstract Summary

Authored by 2020-21 Marijuana Grant recipient Mitchell F. Crusto, professor, and Jillian Morrison and Laurel C. Taylor, graduate research assistants, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana at state level has an impact on adult use, as well as on use by minors. In many jurisdictions, minor use and possession of marijuana is regulated much like that of alcohol. This paper examines the statutory language of laws regulating possession of marijuana by minors across states in which marijuana is legalized, decriminalized, and illegal. From there, data was collected to look at the arrest rates for minors in three case study jurisdictions. The purpose of this comparison was to reveal how laws criminalizing minors in possession of marijuana are carried out as reflected in the arrest rates of reporting jurisdictions. Overall marijuana arrests for minors in possession decreased from 2018 to 2020 across every state case example provided. Additionally, based on the case examples provided in those states that decriminalized marijuana, arrests for juveniles were lower overall than those with legalized or illegal status. While further analysis is needed, the study found positive results, noting that states across the board appear to be decreasing arrest rates for marijuana possession, and more and more states are looking to alcohol violation statutes to craft their marijuana violation statutes for minors. Accordingly, the public shift in thinking about marijuana appears to be impacting the practicalities of drafting statutes and mandating arrests for the better: to create a less hostile approach with less punitive impact on minors.

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Impact of Recreational Marijuana Legalization on Regional Economies
Abstract Summary

Authored by 2020-21 Marijuana Grant recipients Seung-hun Chung, post-doctoral researcher and Mark Partridge, Swank Professor of Rural-Urban Policy and professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at The Ohio State University.

This project aims to systematically investigate the impact of commercial marijuana legalization on the regional economy in the U.S. To be specific, it will analyze whether the commercial marijuana legalization changed employment growth, rent, wage and other important demographics and other important indicators and interpret the results in the framework of spatial equilibrium. In spatial equilibrium, the impact of any policy can be understood as the impact of local productivity and amenity (consumption opportunity). So, we will judge whether the legalization increased the productivity or amenity of regions. Then we discuss the possible mechanisms.

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The Role of Age and Race in Moderating the Justice-Related Benefits of Cannabis Reform
Abstract Summary

Authored by 2020-21 Marijuana Grant recipients Katharine Neill Harris, PhD, Alfred C. Glassell, III Fellow in Drug Policy and Christopher F. Kulesza, PhD, Alfred C. Glassell, III Research Analyst at Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University.

For the drug war’s staunchest critics, ending marijuana prohibition is a critical first step to deconstructing a policy paradigm that not only fails to achieve a drug-free America, but fails at great cost, both in measurable dollars and in immeasurable harms inflicted on people who use drugs and on minority communities writ large. But despite significant advances in decriminalization and legalization efforts, marijuana remains an integral feature of the larger war on drugs. Nationwide there were over 500,000 cannabis-related arrests in 2019, accounting for 35 percent of all drug arrests that year. Black people remain more than three times as likely to be arrested for possession. The continuation of arrests and uneven enforcement vitiates the promise of these reforms to end cannabis prohibition and the systemic inequities it propagates. It also raises the question of whether prohibitionist policies and practices continue at other points in the justice system as well. Though fewer people are incarcerated solely for marijuana possession now than a decade ago, the justice system continues surveillance of people for marijuana use through such mechanisms as probation, diversionary programs, and mandated drug treatment. This study proposes to examine the extent to which surveillance of juveniles and adults who use marijuana continues in legalized and decriminalized states by analyzing referral sources to treatment for cannabis use.

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

Authored by 2020-21 Drug Policy Grant recipient Lee Hannah, Associate Professor of Political Science at Wright State University.

Medical cannabis laws have now been adopted by 35 states and the District of Columbia. Yet the policies vary significantly and some policies have been viewed as more effective than others. This research project aims to take a deeper look at the implementation of medical marijuana programs in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Specifically, the project will focus on understanding how the states’ differing institutional structures, political control of key institutions, and approaches to policy design shaped differences in implementation outcomes. The research aims to better understand the intra-state dynamics of implementation and clarify how program design affects patient access.

Marijuana Focus Area Experts

Cat Packer
Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

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Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform blog

Authored by DEPC Executive Director Douglas A. Berman

Teaching Drugs blog

Authored by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center