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The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law hosted a symposium titled "Relief in the Making: The Policy, Implementation, and Impact of Rights Restoration Laws" on April 11-12, 2024 in Drinko Hall at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The symposium aimed to examine and assess, from a variety of perspectives and with the help of a variety of voices, recent legal and policy developments regarding collateral consequences, record relief efforts, and broader concerns of justice and fairness for individuals and communities with criminal justice system involvement.

The 2024 Menard Family Lecture on Drug Policy and Criminal Justice, featuring the Honorable Judge Carlton W. Reeves, Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission and U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi, was held on Monday, March 4th, from 12:10-1:20 p.m. in Drinko Hall's Saxbe Auditorium. Judge Reeves discussed his role as Chair of the Sentencing Commission and the recent activities of the Commission in reforming the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Following Judge Reeves’ talk, two special judicial guests, the Honorable Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley and the Honorable Judge Douglas Cole of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, joined us for a broad discussion of the various challenges federal judges face at sentencing and the role that the Commission’s guidelines play in their sentencing decision-making.

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


On January 31, 2024, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts discussed how Ohio should approach criminal justice reform after marijuana legalization, what Ohio can learn from other states’ experiences, and the unique political and practical challenges Ohio may face.


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


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

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

On Monday, October 23, 2023, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a panel discussion featuring former and current legislators, experts, and advocates. The event explored this initiative’s structure, its expected implementation, and how could impact the state’s existing medical marijuana market. It also delved into the chances of passage given the off-cycle election year and other political dynamics related to how the Ohio General Assembly might respond to the outcome of the election.

Panelists:
State Representative Josh Williams, Ohio District 41
John Carney, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Jason Ortiz, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Last Prisoner Project
Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, FAAP, Senior Advisor, Public Health Institute


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

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing, and most legally complex, industries in the United States, expected to grow to $53.5 billion in sales by 2027. The murky legal status of the cannabis plant, as well as robust and evolving regulatory requirements, creates unusual challenges, risks, and opportunities for legal professionals interested in serving this emerging industry.
 

On September 11, 2023, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center held an in-person lunch discussion featuring Moritz alumni and other Columbus lawyers working in and around the cannabis industry. Attendees learned how to navigate this space and what it takes to work in this industry. 
 

Panelists:
Frank Tice, Director, Legal, RIV Capital
Lloyd Pierre-Louis, Member, Dickinson Wright
Rachel Friedman Gold, Director, Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter

Moderator:
Benton Bodamer, Member, Dickinson Wright PLL and Adjunct Professor of Law, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

In 1971, marijuana was designated as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it “has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” After decades-long efforts by advocates and researchers, President Biden announced in October 2022 that he instructed “the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” In January 2023, the FDA issued a statement saying that a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight required to manage risks. Although these actions illustrate that the federal government is shifting its approach on cannabis, the mechanics of the scheduling review and the implications of such shift are not well understood.
 

On June 22, 2023 the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and a panel of experts discussed the role of other federal agencies in the scheduling review process and the legal implications of marijuana’s status as a controlled substance and the potential impact of rescheduling marijuana or descheduling it entirely. This panel considered impacts on criminalization, research, medical access, and the medical and adult use cannabis industries currently regulated by states.


Panelists:
John Hudak, Director of the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy
Robert Mikos, LaRoche Family Chair in Law, Vanderbilt University Law School 
Fatima Afia, Attorney, Rudick Law Group, PLLC
Shane Pennington, Partner, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP 
Patricia Zettler, Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law


Moderator:
Cat Packer, Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation, Drug Policy Alliance


transcript of the event is available for download.

Over the last decade, a large number of states have adopted various forms of marijuana reform. To date, 21 states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and 38 have legalized medical marijuana use. While public opinion polls suggest that the vast majority of people support marijuana legalization, less is known about the opinions and policies of prosecuting attorneys in states that have not yet legalized marijuana for any purpose. 
 

On May 17, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Prosecutors and Politics Project at UNC School of Law held a conversation with a panel of legal experts and academics. Panelists discussed results from a recent study of marijuana enforcement and examined how different district attorney offices approach marijuana offenses.
 

Panelists:
Amy Ullrick, Project Manager, Prosecutors and Politics Project, University of North Carolina 
Sam Kamin, Professor, Chauncey G. Wilson Memorial Research Chair, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Zachary Price, Eucalyptus Foundation Endowed Chair, University of California College of the Law, San Francisco
Lauren Ouizel, Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law
Ryan Mears, Prosecutor, Marion County, Indiana
 

Moderator:
Carissa Byrne Hessick, Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina

Published in 1973, Judge Marvin Frankel’s book Criminal Sentences: Law Without Order, assailed just about every aspect of existing arbitrary sentencing practices and advocated for the creation of a “commission on sentencing” to be tasked with developing guidelines for “the numerous factors affecting the length or severity of sentences.” Judge Frankel’s book paved the way for modern sentencing reform, spurring the enactment of numerous sentencing reforms at the state level and the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 which completely rebuilt the federal sentencing system. As a result, Criminal Sentences: Law Without Order has affected tens of millions of defendants sentenced in state and federal courts over the last half-century.


At the same time, some have suggested his proposals—or at least their implementation—have contributed significantly to the growth of prison populations in recent decades. Reflecting on Judge Frankel’s book a half-century later can provide profound insights and perspectives on how modern sentencing has evolved and where it should be headed. The one-day symposium will bring together sentencing experts from academia and law practice to discuss various aspects of Judge Frankel’s ideas, how they have played out over the last half-century, and whether they should guide us for the next fifty years.


On Monday, April 24, 2023, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, the Council on Criminal Justice, the Federal Sentencing Reporter and the New York City Bar Association hosted "Frankel at 50: A Half-Century’s Perspective on Criminal Sentences: Law Without Order." The event was held in person at the New York City Bar Association.

Over the last decade, the Ohio General Assembly has expanded the eligibility criteria for record sealing on several occasions. The passage of the criminal justice omnibus Senate Bill 288, signed into law by Governor DeWine in January 2023, continues this trend by further expanding eligibility and, for the first time ever, allowing for prosecutor-initiated record sealing on behalf of individuals with certain types of offenses. Other long-fought-for reforms in SB 288 include, but are not limited to, expansion of expungement provisions, increasing the maximum amount of earned credit for persons in prison, and a host of other provisions modifying crimes and corrections law in Ohio.
 

On April 12, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a multi-panel event on Ohio Senate Bill 288 that brought together criminal justice experts and advocates for a discussion of some of the key provisions of SB288 and their likely impact as well as the opportunities and challenges of government-initiated record sealing, and its likely adoption by Ohio prosecutors.
 

Panel 1: Understanding SB288: Key Provisions and Likely Impacts

  • Louis Tobin, Executive Director, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

  • Senator Nathan Manning, Ohio 13th Senate District
  • Alex Jones, Criminal Justice Counsel, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
  • Jocelyn Rosnick, Policy Director, ACLU of Ohio
  • Kevin Werner, Policy Director, Ohio Justice & Policy Center
  • Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law; Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (moderator)

Over the last decade, the Ohio General Assembly has expanded the eligibility criteria for record sealing on several occasions. The passage of the criminal justice omnibus Senate Bill 288, signed into law by Governor DeWine in January 2023, continues this trend by further expanding eligibility and, for the first time ever, allowing for prosecutor-initiated record sealing on behalf of individuals with certain types of offenses. Other long-fought-for reforms in SB 288 include, but are not limited to, expansion of expungement provisions, increasing the maximum amount of earned credit for persons in prison, and a host of other provisions modifying crimes and corrections law in Ohio.
 

On April 12, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a multi-panel event on Ohio Senate Bill 288 that brought together criminal justice experts and advocates for a discussion of some of the key provisions of SB288 and their likely impact as well as the opportunities and challenges of government-initiated record sealing, and its likely adoption by Ohio prosecutors.
 

Panel 2: Prosecutor Initiated Record Sealing

  • Brad Nicodemus, Assistant City Attorney, City of Whitehall

  • Jana Hrdinová, Administrative Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
  • Mark Griffin, Law Director, City of Cleveland
  • Tori Edwards, Legal Department Staff Attorney, Franklin County Municipal Court
  • Pam Lattimore, Senior Director for Research Development, Division for Applied Justice Research,  RTI International
  • Sara Andrews, Executive Director, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission (moderator)

Lenore Anderson has built her career on reforming criminal justice, both in her previous position as chief of policy in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and in her current role as co-founder and president of Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ). In her debut book, "In Their Names: The Untold Story of Victims’ Rights, Mass Incarceration, and the Future of Public Safety," Anderson examines how the United States’ focus on victims’ rights often perpetuates mass incarceration. She argues that bureaucrats justify increased incarceration under the guise of public safety, rather than creating solutions to better serve crime victims.


On March 29, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) hosted a discussion with Lenore Anderson, Shakyra Diaz, and Aswad Thomas of the Alliance for Safety and Justice and moderated by DEPC Executive Director Douglas Berman. Panelists discussed how state leaders and advocates can create effective public safety solutions that replace over-incarceration.

On March 15-16, 2023, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University and the Academy for Justice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University held a symposium titled “Drugs and Public Safety: Exploring the Impact of Policy, Policing, and Prosecutorial Reforms” to examine the public safety impact of marijuana and other modern drug policy reforms. The conference was committed to exploring, from a variety of perspectives and with the help of a variety of voices, how to better understand and assess the relationship between drug reforms (broadly defined, including clemency policy and criminal justice reform) and public safety (broadly defined, with an emphasis on violent and serious crime). The event was presented in a hybrid format, with registrants attending via Zoom and in person in Phoenix, Arizona.

On October 6th, 2022, President Biden issued a proclamation granting pardons to over 6,500 people with federal simple possession of marijuana offenses. In an acknowledgment of the fact that the vast majority of cannabis convictions take place on the state level, President Biden simultaneously encouraged the country’s governors to use their clemency power to issue similar grants. While the President’s executive actions are an unprecedented and important step forward, there is still much more work ahead to fully redress the harms of cannabis criminalization.

On December 13, 2022, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Last Prisoner Project hosted a panel of experts to discuss how these pardons will affect people with cannabis convictions on their record, how states could act on the President's call, and what implications this may have for the future of cannabis and criminal justice reform in the United States.


Panelists:
Elizabeth G. Oyer, U.S. Pardon Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
JaneAnne Murray, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the University of Minnesota Law School Clemency Project
Sarah Gersten, Executive Director and General Counsel, Last Prisoner Project


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

Ever since California voters legalized medical marijuana via ballot initiative in 1996, many advocates in the U.S. have embraced direct democracy as a means to bypass reluctant legislatures to advance marijuana legalization and broader drug policy reforms. But reforms advanced through ballot initiatives can raise distinct political and policy challenges, and recent initiatives have sometimes produced legal uncertainty about regulatory regimes and even new limits on the availability of direct democracy.


On Tuesday, October 25, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts discussed the pros and cons of efforts to enact and implement drug policy reforms via the ballot box and these efforts’ impact on direct democracy more generally.


Panelists:
Burrel Vann Jr., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, School of Public Affairs, San Diego State University
Daniel Orenstein, Independent Researcher
Tamar Todd, Legal Director at New Approach PAC; Lecturer at Berkeley Law


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

In 2019, an Ad Hoc Committee of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission (Commission) created the Uniform Sentencing Entry and Disposition Forms (templates). The Commission monitors legislation and Supreme Court case law to keep the uniform entry templates current with any necessary changes, notifies practitioners of those changes, and provides training as needed.
 

The uniform entry templates are within a web-based application, the Ohio Sentencing Data Platform (OSDP) and allow—for the first time in Ohio—felony sentencing data to be anonymized and aggregated. That anonymized, aggregated information can then be shared via a “Public Portal”. Once developed, the Public Portal will provide contextual explanation to sentencing information and access to anonymized, aggregate reports and data visualizations to answer questions such as:
 

  1. How many people were convicted of felonies in Ohio in a given time period?
  2. What percent of convictions for each offense level is sentenced to prison versus community control?
  3. What were the range of sentences for defendants convicted of violating 2925.11(A) and 2925.11(C)(1)(b)?
  4. What percent of offenders sentenced to prison versus community control for the same offense had prior felony convictions?

The Commission held a series of seven in-person focus groups across the state, including two virtual sessions to learn more about how sentencing information may be used and how best to display it for public consumption. Participants, representing 60+ organizations, registered for the sessions.
 

In this webinar held on Friday, October 21, Commission staff presented a summary of findings and common themes from the focus groups and answer questions regarding the development of the Public Portal. The webinar was hosted by the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission with support from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.


Co-hosts:
Sara Andrews, 
Director, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
Todd Ives, Research Specialist, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission

What must prosecutors prove about a defendant’s mental state in order to convict them of unauthorized distribution of controlled substances under federal drug laws? In the case of Ruan v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the Government must prove the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner. But because the defendants in this case were medical doctors involved in questionable opioid prescribing practices, the case has generated an array of public policy questions. The Government, stressing opioid overdose deaths and the broad harms of the opioid epidemic, argued the law should be interpreted to apply an objective standard for criminal liability. The doctors, and many amici briefs, argued that an objective standard could criminalize merely careless prescribing and could deter responsible doctors from trying any novel medical therapies that had not yet been accepted by traditional medical practice.


On September 20, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and our panel of experts discussed the doctrines and broader policies involved in the Ruan case and the implications for criminal law, health care, and beyond.


Panelists:
Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law; Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Kelly Dineen Gillespie, Professor of Law, Director of the Health Law Program, Creighton University School of Law
Martin Fried, Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University
Jennifer Oliva, Professor of Law, UC Hastings Law


Moderator:
Patricia Zettler, Associate Professor of Law, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

As more and more states legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, policymakers and state regulators are faced with a number of regulatory decisions that can have tremendous impact on how the cannabis industry in their state will develop over time. Two issues of particular significance are whether, and how, to limit the number of cannabis businesses and whether, and how, cannabis businesses are able control or own various operations within the industry’s supply chain. Increasingly these decisions frame opportunities for market access and control.


On Tuesday, August 30, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted another Cannabis Regulatory Deep Dive in which our panel of experts shared regulatory and industry insights on the implications and outcomes of licensing caps and vertical integration in the cannabis industry.


Panelists:
Axel Bernabe, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Director, New York Office of Cannabis Management
Kaliko Castille, President, Minority Cannabis Business Association  
Claire Moloney, Vice President, Business Operations, LeafLink
Cat Packer, Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University
Jerin Presley, Manager of Interagency Collaboration, Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

Moderator:
Natalie Fertig, Federal Cannabis Policy Reporter, Politico

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

According to members of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, the SAFE Banking Act, as written, is not a safe bet to achieve fair and equitable access to financial services for those in the cannabis industry.


On Tuesday, August 17, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted another virtual Cannabis Regulatory Deep Dive in which our panel of experts shared their analysis of the SAFE Banking Act, why it would fall short of its goals, and recommendations to improve fair access to cannabis banking as detailed in their paper, Not a SAFE Bet: Equitable Access to Cannabis Banking.


Panelists:
Cat Packer, Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University
Rafi Aliya Crockett, Commissioner, Washington, D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
Dasheeda Dawson, Cannabis Program Manager, City of Portland, Oregon 
Shaleen Title, Distinguished Cannabis Policy Practitioner in Residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Maritza Perez, Director, Office of Federal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center was a sponsor of Psychedemia 2022, an interdisciplinary psychedelics conference held in Columbus, Ohio August 12 through the 14.

In partnership with the newly founded Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education at The Ohio State University, Psychedemia 2022 aimed to provide a rigorous interdisciplinary symposium for exchanging ideas, evaluating dominant perspectives, and critiquing current approaches to developing social frameworks for psychedelic use. This conference was designed to review the recent history of psychedelic research and culture; assess where we currently stand; and chart pathways for the future of the field. A richly varied program included Lectures, Symposia, Spotlight Sessions, and a pre-conference Workshop to connect and evolve clinical practice.

While the likelihood of cannabis legalization or descheduling on the federal level in 2022 remains relatively low, policy analysts and advocates are beginning to debate the impact federal legalization might have on existing state industries. In particular, they are starting to discuss the transition to interstate commerce, should cannabis become legalized at the federal level. Discussions are also forming around how and when such large-scale change should be implemented to minimize negative impacts on public health and safety and adequately address the interests of patients, users, and small businesses. 


On Tuesday, July 12, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual discussion of these and other topics with a panel of experts.


Panelists:
Scott Bloomberg, Associate Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law
Geoffrey Lawrence, Director of Drug Policy, Reason Foundation
Adam J. Smith, Founder and Executive Director, Alliance for Sensible Markets
Shaleen Title, Distinguished Cannabis Policy Fellow, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Jeremy Berke, Senior Reporter, Business Insider

At present, the Ohio Supreme Court is in the process of creating its first-ever unified sentencing database to allow for the collection of felony sentencing decisions from all courts in the State of Ohio. While its proponents argue that collecting such information will help ensure that justice can be carried out consistently across various jurisdictions, its opponents express fear that such information will be manipulated and misused for political purposes.


On Tuesday, May 17, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event featuring Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael P. Donnelly. Justice Donnelly discussed his position on why data-driven sentencing reform in Ohio is necessary and long overdue. He provided concrete arguments for why data is key to better judicial-decision making and fostering a sense of justice among Ohio residents.

On Thursday, April 7, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Natural Therapies Education Foundation hosted two expert panels that focused on two possible routes to reform and the implications they may have for patients and Ohioans alike.
 

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

Panelists:
Ohio Representative Ron Ferguson
Thomas Haren, Partner and Cannabis Practice Chair, Frantz Ward
Helen Mac Murray, Partner, Mac Murray & Shuster
Cat Packer, Former Executive Director, Department of Cannabis Regulation for the City of Los Angeles
Jodi Salvo, Director of Substance Use Prevention Services, OhioGuidestone

Moderator:
Benton Bodamer, Member, Dickinson Wright

On Thursday, April 7, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Natural Therapies Education Foundation hosted two expert panels that focused on two possible routes to reform and the implications they may have for patients and Ohioans alike.
 

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

Panelists:
Ohio Senator Steven Huffman
Andrew Makoski, Senior Attorney, Ohio Department of Commerce Medical Marijuana Control Program
Tasha Rountree, medical marijuana caregiver in Ohio and patient in Michigan
Justin C. Sheridan, Director of Medical Marijuana Operations, State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy

Moderator:
Douglas Berman, Executive Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

When Americans think of the criminal justice system, they picture a trial. The right to a trial by jury is supposed to undergird our entire justice system – but that bedrock constitutional right has all but disappeared thanks to plea bargaining. In 2018, more than 97 percent of defendants pleaded guilty.
 

On Wednesday, March 23, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a panel discussion featuring Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick on how plea bargaining undermines justice. In her latest book, Punishment Without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining is a Bad Deal, Hessick makes the case against plea bargaining and illustrates why and how we need to fix it if we ever hope to achieve lasting criminal justice reform.
 

Panelists:
Carissa Byrne Hessick, Ransdell Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law Director, Prosecutors and Politics Project
The Honorable Justice Michael Donnelly, Ohio Supreme Court
Ric Simmons, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Professor for the Administration of Justice and Rule of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Moderator:
Michael Zuckerman, Visiting Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Marijuana reform has been a long-time coming policy priority in the eyes of the nation. It is an issue that has united a number of unlikely allies and deepened divides. There’s no question that marijuana is on track to become fully legalized – the question becomes what happens next? The panelists offered insights into upcoming trends including the good, the bad and inevitable of how a post-legalized America will move forward.


This event was presented by Stand Together Trust at SXSW on March 12, 2022.
 

Panelists:
Douglas A. Berman, Executive Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
U.S. Representative Nancy Mace

Moderator:
Vikrant Reddy , Senior Fellow for Criminal Justice, Stand Together

On Wednesday, January 26, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Center for New Revenue hosted a panel that explored the evolving theory and practice of cannabis tax policy. Panelists delved into a range of issues including the choice of an effective tax base (weight of flower and trim, THC amount, percentage of price) and the appropriate tax burden. 
 

Panelists
Ulrik Boesen, senior policy analyst, Tax Foundation
Hilary Bricken, attorney, Harris & Bricken
Benjamin Leff, professor, American University Law School
Pat Oglesby, founder, The Center for New Revenue

Moderator:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

On Tuesday, December 7, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Harm Reduction Ohio held the second panel in a series on Ohio's opioid settlement. This moderated panel discussion shed light on the details of the settlement. The discussion addressed how settlement proceeds will be divided among participating states, who has the power to determine how the money will be spent in the state of Ohio, the current plans for the state of Ohio, and what communities and individuals impacted by the opioid epidemic can expect to see in the upcoming years.
 

Panelists:
Jonathan Blanton, Deputy Attorney General for Major Litigation, Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Zach Klein, City Attorney, Columbus, Ohio
Christine Minhee, Open Society Foundations Soros Justice Fellow and visiting scholar, University of Washington School of Law

Moderator:
Micah Berman, associate professor, Moritz College of Law and College of Public Health, The Ohio State University

On Thursday, December 2, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Parabola Center hosted a discussion of cannabis residency requirements, the arguments at play, and some considerations and best practices for regulators and people seeking to build better cannabis regulations.

 

Panelists:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and co-founder, Parabola Center 
Richard Juang, legal director and co-founder, Parabola Center 
Shanel Lindsay, entrepreneurship director, Parabola Center 

On Friday, November 19, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Natural Therapies Education Foundation hosted a virtual discussion featuring panelists representing current Ohio cannabis reform endeavors. The event provided information about pending initiatives and legislation, as well as a vision of what the future may hold for cannabis in Ohio.

 

Visit our resource page to explore a comparison of marijuana reform proposals in Ohio.

 

Panelists:
Rep. Casey Weinstein, Ohio House of Representatives
Thomas Haren, partner, Frantz Ward
Mary Jane Borden, co-founder and secretary of the board, Natural Therapies Education Foundation
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

On Wednesday, November 10 the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Harm Reduction Ohio cohosted the first panel in a series on Ohio's opioid settlement.  The purpose of this panel was to understand how opioid litigation was pursued and the settlements that resulted. The panel looked back at similar litigation, such as the tobacco settlement, to see how the current settlement compares to earlier public health litigation and what lessons can be learned.

 

Panelists:
Micah Berman, associate professor, Moritz College of Law and College of Public Health, The Ohio State University
Tasha Perdue, assistant professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University
Patricia J. Zettler, associate professor, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Dennis Cauchon, president and founder, Harm Reduction Ohio

On Thursday, October 28, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a presentation by Princeton University History Professor Keith Wailoo, author of Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette. The presentation was followed by a moderated discussion with Dr. Amy Fairchild, Dean of The Ohio State University's College of Public Health. Long seen by the tobacco industry as a consumer segment of consumers ripe for exploitation, urban communities of color have endured decades of deceit and disregard for their health as the targets of menthol cigarette advertising. Menthols comprise some 30 percent of a shrinking tobacco market in the United States. As the industry and its supporters in public office move to protect their profits from a federal ban, Dr. Wailoo offered a detailed account of how advertising firms explicitly capitalized on poverty, alienation, and drug use to carve a menthol market out of urban space. This effort, which started in the 1950s and lasted decades, followed the tobacco industry’s false framing of menthol cigarettes as a safer, even healthful alternative for smokers beginning in the 1920s.

 

Speakers:
Keith Wailoo, Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University
Amy Fairchild, dean, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Sarah Brady Siff, visiting assistant professor, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

On October 7-8, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Academy for Justice explored the myriad issues surrounding drug sentencing and its contribution to mass incarceration and mass punishment during this major symposium. In addition to academics, researchers, and advocates discussing sound drug sentencing policies, this event also included judges, current and former prosecutors, defense attorneys, and justice-involved individuals sharing their perspectives on drug sentencing practices.

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center held the Inaugural 2021 Menard Family Lecture on Drug Policy and Criminal Justice on Thursday, October 7. The event featured Eric H. Holder, Jr., former Attorney General of the United States, and Piper Kerman, social justice advocate and author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, and special guests Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley for the Southern District of Ohio. This event was held virtually and served as a keynote for the Understanding Drug Sentencing Symposium. The symposium was co-hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Academy for Justice at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

This panel was held Tuesday, September 28, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. This panel rounds out the theme of the series by considering whether Donald Trump’s departure from past pardoning practices has paved the way for much-needed reforms in the process by which the president gets advice in pardon matters. The proposals our panelists provided are a hopeful sign that the future of the pardon power is brighter than its recent past.


This panel was part of The Future of the President's Pardon Power Series jointly organized by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
 

Panelists:

Rachel Barkow, vice dean and Charles Seligson Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Jeff Crouch, assistant professor of American politics, School of Public Affairs, American University
Paul J. Larkin Jr., Rumpel Senior Legal Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation 
Margaret Love, executive director, Collateral Consequences Resource Center and former U.S. Pardon Attorney

Moderator:

Douglas Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

This panel was held on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. The panel looked at supplementing, if not supplanting, the pardon power in performing functions that may be better performed by the courts. That is, should at least some of the pardon action be removed to the federal courts through statutory mechanisms to reduce prison sentences and restore rights and status? Did Trump’s departure from past pardoning practices pave the way for moving many of pardon’s functions into the courts, as most states have done?
 

This panel was part of The Future of the President's Pardon Power Series jointly organized by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
 

Panelists:

Jack Chin, Edward L. Barrett Jr. Chair of Law, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Law, and Director of Clinical Legal Education, University of California, Davis, Law School
John Gleeson, attorney and former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Judge Beverly Martin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
JaneAnne Murray, professor of practice, University of Minnesota Law School

Moderator:

Carter Stewart, executive vice president, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio

This panel was held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. This panel set the stage for the two subsequent panels about the future of presidential pardoning, by asking basic questions about the role of a regular pardon process and the result of its having been sidelined by Trump. Panelists examined the unusual nature of President Donald Trump’s pardoning, looking at the grants themselves and the process that produced them, and considered whether Trump’s pardons were an aberration or the predictable result of trends in pardoning over the past thirty years.
 

This panel was part of The Future of the President's Pardon Power Series jointly organized by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
 

Panelists:

Frank Bowman, Floyd R. Gibson Missouri Endowed Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law
Bernadette Meyler, Carl and Sheila Spaeth Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Amy Povah, founder, CAN-DO Justice through Clemency
Kenneth Vogel, New York Times

Moderator:

Margaret Love, executive director, Collateral Consequences Resource Center and former U.S. Pardon Attorney

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center co-hosted a series of virtual sentencing workshops that brought together leaders from sentencing commissions, the judiciary, and academia.

 

"Vetting Wrongful Convictions: Perspective, Approach, and Strategy" was held on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. This moderated panel discussion will focus on how jurisdictions are addressing wrongful convictions. The invited panelists will share their respective approaches to addressing wrongful convictions and candidly discuss which strategies are working and which are falling short. The panel will discuss a variety of approaches such as conviction integrity units and standalone commissions, and provide their thoughts on how to best move forward.

 

Panelists: 
Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, chief deputy, Conviction Integrity Section, Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General
Valerie Newman, director, Conviction Integrity Unit, Wayne County, Michigan
Lindsey Guice Smith, executive director, North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission
Judge Gene Zmuda, chair, Ohio Task Force on Conviction Integrity and Postconviction Review

Moderator:
John Hollway, executive director, Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice

Despite enthusiasm from policymakers and hard work by government regulators, many feel that the promise of social equity in the cannabis industry remains elusive. The obstacles are numerous, ranging from legal challenges, to difficulties with implementation, to weak policy provisions. Is it time to rethink cannabis social equity?

 

On Wednesday, June 9, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event that brought together a panel of experts who are imagining a different framework to achieve the goal of healing the harms of past prohibition and lift communities affected by the War on Drugs. Panelists discussed ways to expand the horizons of how we achieve social equity.

 

Panelists:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Amber Marks, lawyer and lecturer, Queen Mary University of London
Cat Packer ’15, executive director, Department of Cannabis Regulation, City of Los Angeles
Dan Riffle ’03, policy analyst, District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health

Moderator:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center co-hosted a series of virtual sentencing workshops that brought together leaders from sentencing commissions, the judiciary, and academia.

 

"Justice Counts: Using Data to Inform Policy and Bolster Public Safety" was held on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. This moderated panel discussion will focus on a new national initiative designed to help states make criminal justice data more accessible, clear, and usable for policymakers. Backed by a coalition of 21 national partner organizations and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Justice Counts brings together state and local leaders to reach consensus about a limited set of criminal justice metrics that leaders can use to inform budget and policy decisions. The initiative also includes a scan of public, aggregate-level criminal justice data and identifies existing gaps in data reporting.

 

Panelists:
Megan Grasso, deputy program director, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Sarah Lee, policy analyst, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Carl Reynolds, senior legal and policy advisor, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Ken Sanchagrin, executive director, Oregon Criminal Justice Commission
Scott Schultz, executive director, Kansas Sentencing Commission

Moderator:
Bennet Wright, executive director, Alabama Sentencing Commission

In recent years, social equity has become a routine part of conversations surrounding cannabis legalization. Yet, despite the stated goals of political leaders and various efforts of multiple states, challenges with implementing robust social equity programs persist.

 

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual panel event that brought together experts from states whose recent cannabis legalizations include social equity provisions. Panelists discussed their state’s experience, lessons learned, and focus areas for federal legislators and regulators as they begin considering cannabis legalization nationwide.

 

Panelists:
Dianna Houenou, senior policy advisor and associate counsel, Office of the Governor, State of New Jersey, and incoming chair, New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission
Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor for cannabis control, Office of the Governor, State of Illinois
Jason Ortiz, president, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and board member, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

Moderator:
Natalie Fertig, federal cannabis policy reporter, POLITICO

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

The purpose of this invitation-only symposium held March 16, 2021 was to educate advocates, congressional staff, administration officials, and scholars about the possibility that classwide scheduling of fentanyl analogues will yield unintended consequences, and to highlight evidence-based alternatives that can help reduce overdose deaths. Participants learned about the relationship between classwide scheduling and public health policy approaches to dealing with fentanyl analogues and overdose. Participants were presented with an intersectional discussion of the issue that examines classwide scheduling and its impact on the criminal legal system, racial inequities, scientific research, medicine, and evidence-based drug policy.

Ohio has a long history of criminal justice reform and drug sentencing reform, and yet few can be pleased that Ohio still has the 12th highest incarceration rate in the country and one of the highest rates of overdose deaths. With the passage of HB1 and the failure of SB3 at the end of 2020, many are left wondering what can and cannot be achieved through legislative reforms in Ohio.

 

On February 24, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event focused on Ohio’s recent reform history, what we might expect in the near future, and how research and experience in other states can inform reform efforts in the Buckeye State.

 

Panelists:
Sara Andrews, executive director of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist at the ACLU of Ohio
Micah Derry, state director for the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity
Andrew Geisler, legal fellow at The Buckeye Institute
Kyle Strickland, deputy director of race and democracy at the Roosevelt Institute and senior legal analyst at Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

Moderators:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Alex Fraga, senior research associate at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

The 2020 election had a significant impact on how the United States addresses a broad range of policy issues, and drug enforcement and policy is no exception. Numerous states approved medical or full marijuana legalization via ballot initiative, and voters in other states weighed in on drug-related criminal justice ballot initiatives. At the federal level, marijuana reform has been gaining momentum and federal officials will undoubtedly take cues from the nationwide election results to determine the pace of reform on an array of drug enforcement and policy issues.

 

On November 16, 2020, our panel of experts discussed the 2020 election results and what they are likely to mean for drug enforcement and policy at both the state and federal level.

 

Speakers:
John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and a senior fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
Maritza Perez, director of the Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
Tamar Todd, legal director, New Approach PAC

Moderator:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center