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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.

Report
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.

Report
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.

Report
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.

Report
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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Impact of Recreational Marijuana Legalization on Regional Economies
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

Blogs

Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform blog

Authored by DEPC Executive Director Douglas A. Berman

Teaching Drugs blog

Authored by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center