Reason Foundation’s Drug Policy Newsletter, May 2019
ID 107726379 © Stanislau V | Dreamstime.com

Drug Policy Newsletter

Reason Foundation’s Drug Policy Newsletter, May 2019

As the nation faces down a growing overdose problem, some argue that harm reduction practices such as safe injection sites are the way forward.

News and Opinion

As cannabis becomes more popular for treating a variety of ailments, such as morning pregnancy sickness and insomnia, policymakers and consumers should be encouraged to exercise common sense on cannabis therapy.   

As states legalize marijuana and develop impaired driving laws, policymakers need to ensure they do not penalize safe, sober drivers who merely have detectable levels of marijuana remaining in their systems.

Drug Recognition Experts continue to be the best option in enforcing impaired marijuana driving laws, instead of unscientific biometric tests.  

Examining the history of marijuana regulation provides a good perspective on current state regulations and the possible paths forward.

There is a fine line between legal and illegal marijuana markets, and regulations and tax rates can play a large role in determining the size and shape of both.

As the nation deals with a growing overdose problem, some argue that harm reduction practices such as supervised safe injection sites are a good way forward. 

Florida could improve its handling of the opioid problem by focusing on harm reduction, including needle exchange programs.

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has long argued against the war on drugs but recently incorrectly blamed legal pharmacy prescriptions as a root cause of the opioid crisis.   

Police can quickly obtain e-warrants, sometimes within 10 minutes, in order to draw blood from suspects at roadside traffic stops as evidence of impairment.  

Denver voters narrowly approved a measure to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.  

Legislation, Regulation, and Markets

The STATES Act would federally legalize all marijuana-related activities in states that have legalized, but would not remove marijuana from its Schedule I narcotic status, marking a positive sign but also creating confusion.

In some cases, medical marijuana patients, by legally admitting they use marijuana, are then being denied their 2nd Amendment rights due to a federal law that is still being enforced despite general tolerance of medical marijuana legalization.

With the data and experience of several states, there is a developing and cohesive conceptual framework of best practices that policymakers should use for improving their existing marijuana markets or establishing new ones.

Despite the seeming attractiveness of it, many are concluding that a state-run marijuana bank is not a viable solution to the banking and financial hurdles the cannabis industry faces.

Government-generated estimates for the potential size of newly legalized marijuana markets are often inaccurate and can fuel misguided policies.  

Florida continues to face market access and monopoly issues, as the state has allowed one dispensary company to open more locations ahead of schedule.

California and Code for America are partnering to expunge over 50,000 marijuana convictions.

The Washington House of Representatives passed a bill that would vacate most misdemeanor marijuana convictions.  

Some 25 counties and cities in California are suing the state because it allows marijuana deliveries in their jurisdictions.

Employers are still wrestling to find the right marijuana workplace policies.

Some argue that even if cannabis were de-scheduled, the market would not explode as some anticipate due to FDA requirements.

New York City is considering eliminating drug testing for marijuana for people on probation.

Congress is considering raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

Evidence

A new study claims that marijuana legalization reduces opioid prescriptions.  

The overall social impact of cannabis legalization has to be weighed across a spectrum of metrics, including the cost savings of no longer enforcing the prohibition.    

One analysis estimates that New York’s cannabis industry could be as large as $4.1 billion dollars and employ some 30,000 people in the state.

Marijuana legalization does not cause an increase in traffic fatalities, a new study finds. 

Adrian Moore

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.