MedicateOH extends our thanks to the Columbus Free Press for allowing us to reprint Mary Jane Borden’s articles to reach a wider audience.

Tanked by timing? Federal stall ball. AG Yost on fentanyl.

Facts & Stats for all. Selected bites of fresh cannabis news sliced from the headlines, with a legislative flavor and sweet Ohio twist. Sources are linked.

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FEDERAL LEGISLATION

See the tables Federal Cannabis Legislation and Active Federal Cannabis Legislation

117th Congress (2021-2022): House bills = 48 and Senate bills = 15, for a Total of 63. Sounds like a lot? Don’t let numbers fool you. Almost 80% of those bills were introduced last year (2021) with no further action as shown in this table. Only 11 were acted upon in 2022, most notably in the House: the 2022 appropriations bill that prevents the Justice Department from interfering in state-legal programs, the MORE Act, and the Safe Banking Act, the latter two pending Senate action. The ONLY legislation to be acted upon in the Senate in 2022 was a bill to expand cannabis research.  

Safe Banking Act (H.R. 1996/S. 910, H.R. 4350 &  H.R. 4521). This Act would prohibit federal regulators from penalizing financial institutions that provide services to canna-businesses. It was attached in December 2021 as Amendment 97 to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350) which approves defense expenditures. The final version excluded safe banking. On 1/28/22, Safe Banking Act sponsor U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter filed another banking amendment to the unrelated America COMPETES Act(H.R. 4521). That Act in President Biden’s words would, “reinvigorate the innovation engine of our economy to out-compete China.” For the sixth time in history, the House passed the safe banking on 2/4/22; for the second time in one year, the Senate nixed a Rep. Perlmutter’s safe banking amendment.

MORE Act 2021. (H.R.3617) This adult use bill, introduced once before by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on 9/30/21 by 26-15. Two amendments were added to the bill, one to fund a driver impairment study and the other to study the impact of legalization on the workplace. Co-sponsors increased to 114.

  • Facts & Stats.  (More Act) Here is Rep. Nadler’s statement to mark the introduction. Here is a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill that estimates an $8 billion increase in annual revenue and an $800 million savings from reduced incarceration.

Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA).  On 7/14/21, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) released a Discussion Draft of a U.S. Senate bill to fully legalize cannabis. It subsequently received 1,800+ comments. Senator Schumer indicated that, while he was aiming for an April introduction of his bill, the “official introduction” will now occur “before the August recess”.

  • Facts & Stats.  (CAOA) Hereis a February 10th letter from Senators Schumer, Booker and Wydenthat requests their colleagues’ input, guidance and advice on drafting the CAOA. Here is the full text draft of Senator Schumer’s original bill. Here is a summary of key points of interest in the above draft.  Here is an analysis from the Tax Foundation that includes state level tax rates on adult use cannabis.

States Reform Act (H.R. 5977). Introduced by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) on 11/15/21,will “amend the Controlled Substances Act regarding marihuana,” by specifically striking “marihuana” and “Tetrahydrocannabinols, except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp.” Grandfathers in state cannabis licensees. The corporate giant Amazon has endorsed this bill. Unfortunately, Rep. Mace is being “primaried” in her South Carolina Congressional District by other endorsed candidates.

  • Facts(States Act)Here is H.R. 5977’s text. Hereis a policy statement about H.R. 5977.  Here is video of Rep. Mace’s press conference.

Other New federal bills. H.R. 7513 (Rep. David Joyce, R-OH-14) on 4/14/22 to establish a Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis to study a prompt and plausible pathway to the Federal regulation of cannabis. House Resolution 1017 (Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-CO-7) on 3/31/22 to provide consideration of H.R. 3617 to decriminalize and deschedule cannabis. House Continuing Resolution 81 (Rep. Nancy Mace, R-SC-1) to express the sense of Congress that the United States should seek to de-schedule cannabis from Schedule I of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961.

OHIO – BALLOT INITIATIVE

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (RMLA) – Initiated Statute Ballot Initiative.  Following the provisions of Ohio law concerning citizen led initiated statutes as outlined by the Ohio Secretary of State (SoS),theCoalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol(RMLA)submitted sufficient signatures to force the Ohio General Assembly to consider adult use cannabis, at least in theory.

UPDATE: On 5/12/22, the lawsuit filed by the RMLA against state officials was settled. The initiative will not appear on the fall 2022 ballot. However, as a compromise, the first set of signatures submitted in December 2021 and January 2022 will count and Secretary of State will re-transmit the measure to the General Assembly at the start of the first legislative session in January 2023, opening the four-month window for consideration. If the legislature again fails to act, the campaign can collect the second round of signatures this time next year for placement to the fall 2023 ballot. Here is a copy of the settlement agreement.

  • Stats.  (RMLASubstantial tax revenue)  The Drug Education and Policy Center with the OSU Moritz College of Law published a recent paper that estimated the potential annual Ohio tax revenue if the RMLA passes in November. The analysis reviewed various adult use cannabis markets in selected states, singling out Michigan for comparison. Under two growth assumptions, the annual revenue would equal between $276 million and $374 million five years after passage. Read the report here.
  • Stats.  (The RMLA process thus far)  The Coalition submitted its initial 1,000 initial signatures to the Ohio Attorney General (OAG) on 7/27/21. On 8/5/21, the OAG rejected the measure, unable to certify that its summary was a “fair and truthful statement.” On 8/13/21, the committee representing the petitioners submitted a revised version, the summary of which was certified by the OAG on 8/20/21. The Ohio Ballot Board subsequently ruled on 8/30/21 that the measure met the single subject requirement, the final hurdle to permitting the campaign to collect the 132,887 signatures of registered voters necessary to place the law before the General Assembly. By 12/21/21, the Coalition had collected 206,943 signatures and submitted them to the Ohio Secretary of State (SoS). But, on 1/3/22, the SoS  determined only 119,825 were valid. Two weeks later on 1/13/22, the Coalition turned in another 29,918 signatures, more than double the number needed. Altogether, the SOS determined that the Coalition submitted 136,729 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters, 3,842 more than the 132,887 required. Total campaign signatures equaled 236,861; validity rate of 58%. The OGA has four months to pass citizen initiated statutes. If the legislature fails to act or amends the text, the Coalition can collect another 132,887 signatures (really, closer to 250,000) between 5/29/22 and 7/6/22 for placement on the fall ballot (11/8/22). 
  • Facts.  (What the RMLA does)  When enacted as Chapter 3780 of the Ohio Revised Code, the new law would, “authorize and regulate cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, home grow, and use of adult use cannabis by adults at least twenty-one years of age (‘adult use consumers’).”
  • Facts.  (RMLATanked by the Executive Branch?)  While the Ohio General Assembly is constitutionally obligated to consider the initiative, both Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) and Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-12) have deemed it a non-starter. Calling it “a mistake,” DeWine has already said he will veto any bill to legalize marijuana in Ohio. Huffman stated much the same, “I don’t want anybody to misunderstand my position … I’m not going to bring it to the Senate floor. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it.” 
  • Stats.  (RMLATanked by timing?)  In theory, once signatures have been submitted to the Secretary of State (SoS) – the RMLA submitted 206,943 on 12/20/22 and then another 29,918 on 1/13/22 – the ballot language should be forwarded to the General Assembly, which the SoS did on 1/28/22. But technicalities seeped in. The Ohio Constitution reads, “When at any time, not less than ten days prior to the commencement of any session of the general assembly, there shall have been filed with the secretary of state a petition signed by three per centum of the electors and verified as herein provided, proposing a law, the full text of which shall have been set forth in such petition, the secretary of state shall transmit the same to the general assembly as soon as it convenes.” The petition was indeed submitted 10 days before the start of the legislative session on 1/19/22. However, Secretary Frank LaRose found a signature short fall on 1/3/22 that forced the coalition to further collect until 1/13/22. So, what is the qualifying date? The Coalition filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to find out. They contend that the 1/28/22 referral to the OGA was correct and that the initiated statute process for the RMLA should continue. Republican House and Senate leadership, on the other hand, wants to see the process delayed to 2023 or tanked altogether.  Why? Referendumsbrought out a million voters that nobody ever knew were coming out.” In other words, voters keep Republicans from winning elections.
  • Facts & Stats.  (RMLAHere is the initiative’s searchable text in PDF format. Here is one-page bulleted key point list of the proposed statute’s provisions, and here is a similar key point list of H.B. 628 as introduced on 4/20/22 that mirrors the initiative.  Hereare the RMLA’s 2021 campaign contributions, hereare its expenditures and here are its debts. The Ohio Constitution can be found here. Procedures for “Initiative and referendum to enact laws” are detailed on Page 7.

OHIO – LEGISLATION

See Ohio Cannabis Legislation Table.

S.B. 261. Introduced by Ohio Senator Stephen Huffman (R-5) on 11/9/21, with the short title “Revise the medical marijuana law.” Among other provisions, the bill would enlarge cultivation areas, add qualifying medical conditions, increase number of forms, raise THC level, permit advertising, create a division of marijuana control, and remove the pharmacy board. With six co-sponsors, the bill passed the Senate on 12/15/21 and moved to the House on 12/22/21. Fourth hearing in the House Government Oversight Committee held on 4/27/22 with testimony from six opponents and only one proponent.

  • Facts & Stats. (S.B. 261)  Here is SB 261’s original text as introduced, here is the Senate version and here is Mary Jane’s Guide to SB 261. The Legislative Services Commission has produced this bill analysis. For the purpose of opposition research, here is recent testimony from the Ohio Society of Addiction Medicine and the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association. Senator Huffman championed HB 523, Ohio’s medical marijuana law as representative in the Ohio House.

H.B. 60.  Introduced by Representatives Juanita Brent (D-134) and Bill Seitz (R-30) on 2/3/21 with the short title “Authorize medical marijuana for autism spectrum disorder.” Passed House by 73-13 on 3/2/22. Introduced in Senate on 3/8/22; Sponsor testimony on 3/30/22.                                                                           

  • Facts & Stats. (H.B.60)  Read an autistic patient’s compelling testimony here. The bill’s legislative text is here, its analysis here and its fiscal notes here. Add your name to a Change.org petition in support of cannabis and autism (H.B. 60)  here.

H.B. 628. Introduced by Representatives Casey Weinstein (D-37) and Terrence Upchurch (D-10) on 4/20/22. Here is the text that mirrors the ballot language of the proposed initiative petition titled An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis that attained sufficient signatures to force consideration by the General Assembly. No committee assignments or cosponsors.

  • Facts. (H.B. 628)  Here is the bill’s text as introduced, hereare Mary Jane’s Key Points for HB 628 and Here are Mary Jane’s Key Points for the RMLA initiated statute for comparison.

Other adult use bills. Not one of these three adult use cannabis bills introduced this legislative session (2021-2022) – H.B. 210, H.B. 382 and H.B. 498 – has been accorded any committee activity, hearings or testimony. The former two were introduced by Democratic lawmakers (Reps. Upchurch, Denson, and Weinstein) and the latter by Republicans (Reps. Callender and Ferguson).

Other 2021-2022 marijuana related bills: H.B 203 (raises the urine and blood levels for being “under the influence). H.B. 356 (changes marijuana possession penalties from felonies to misdemeanors). The former had a proponent testimony hearing on 3/15/22, and the latter has had three such hearings most recently on 4/6/22.

DECRIM

See Ohio Cannabis Decrim Initiatives

Sensible Decriminalization. This productive collaboration among NORML Appalachia, the Sensible Movement Coalition, andBill Schmitt, Jr. has collected thousands of signatures to place decriminalization initiatives on the ballot.

  • Facts & Stats. (Decrim)  Marijuana decriminalization of up to 200 grams with no fines or time now covers 2,199,834 Ohioans in 29 Ohio cities, or 28% of Ohio’s adult population. Thisnumber will increase by almost 30,000 if decrim passes in Kent, Ohio, where a recount found sufficient signatures to place the measure on the ballot in the upcoming November 8th election. Enough signatures have been collected to place decriminalization on the fall 2022 ballot in Shawnee and Laurelville. Other cities targeted for decrim include: Ashville, Canton, Chippewa Lake, Gloria Glens Park, Harbor View, Helena, Lodi, McArthur, New Boston, Otway, Portsmouth, Rarden, Rushville, Rutland, South Webster, Sugar Grove and West Salem.

OMMCP

Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program by the Numbers.

  • Stats.  As of 3/31/22  464,373 total physician recommendations; 261,453 total registered patients; 248,841 total unique purchasers; 137,870 active patients; 28,656 caregivers; 16,882 veterans; 18,444 indigent status; 640 recommending physicians; 29 operating cultivators; 58 operating dispensaries; 41 operating processors; and 3 operating testing laboratories. (As of 4/18/22) Total sales since inception: 92,770 lbs. of plant material; 8,302,225 manufactured product units; and $799.3 million in product sales. The average price of plant material for 1/10 oz (or 2.83 grams) is $26.14. During the week of April 30, 2022, alone, around $5.253 million of plant material alone was sold each week. Here is a table of total products sold by week and form since January 2021. Here is historical sales since the program’s inception through 4/18/22.

New dispensaries. On 9/15/21, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced the addition of 73 new dispensaries, increasing the number from the initial 58 with certificates of operation to a total of 130. Two hundred companies submitted over 1,400 applications, many of which are multi-state operators (MSOs). Using a random number generator to assign unique number and rank order to each app, the Ohio Lottery Commission held a drawing on 1/27/22 to begin the process of selecting the winners. The pharmacy board is using the Commission’s ordering as it evaluates the applications to determine eligibility. The dispensary district with the most apps was Northeast-2 (Cleveland area) with 208 for 7 possible licenses. It was followed by Southwest-4 (Dayton area) with 186 apps for 4 licenses. In contrast, Southwest-7 (Greene, Madison and Fayette counties) received only one dispensary application. The pharmacy board is targeting the end of May to announce winners.

  • Facts & Stats.  (Dispensary drawing) Here is a list of all applicants by dispensary district and name. The lottery drawing list is here in PDF format and in Excel spreadsheet format, here. Application Instructions, along with the number of new dispensaries per district, are here.  Here is a Q & A about the application process.

Processors. Three kinds of processors are licensed in Ohio: standalone, vertically integrated facilities, and a plant-only processor, which is a cultivator who distributes plant material directly to dispensaries. Mary Jane’s list of processors by county can be found here.

Department of Commerce. Since inception of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP), the Department of Commerce (DoC) has overseen cultivators, processors and testing facilities. Although the main program website is here, a number of program resources can be found on the DoC’s website here. The MMCP remains unlisted on the DoC’s home page, perhaps the harbinger of a full transfer.  

  • Facts. (DoC)Search for licensees and their license types here. A map of licensees with pinpoint locations is here. Cultivators and processors are here. Unhappy with the program? File a complaint here. Review the DoC/MMCP Newsletters here or sign up for DoC news and updates here.

IN OTHER NEWS

Courage in Cannabis, an anthology of inspiring stories written by heroes,has achieved Amazon Rank of #1 New Release, #1 Best Seller in Herbal Remedies and International Bestseller. This compilation, by eighteen diverse authors (Mary Jane is one of them) who share how cannabis changed their lives, can be purchased in paperback and online formats from Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble, as well as from various authors on the Courage in Cannabis website. The book is now available on Audible and TikTok. Interested in being an author in the next edition? Fill out the form here.

Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Are you an Ohio medical marijuana patient? Please fill out this anonymous survey concerning patient satisfaction with Ohio’s program here.

Death of the Source Rule for SeedsRemember when all marijuana seeds were illegal? Well, all aren’t now. Instead, the 0.3% THC definition of hemp – a legal product – applies to all parts of the plant, seeds included. It’s not necessarily the source of the seeds [the Source Rule] that determines marijuana v. hemp, but the THC percentage. Happy hemp planting season!

EVENTS

MARY JANE’S LIBRARY

Find the Source Tables for Mary Jane’s Guide in this one easy-to-use list. Documents are in PDF format.

TALES FROM THE BIZARRE

C’mon Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Stop the hyperbole, lies and fearmongering. On 4/21/22, you stated, “Frankenstein opioids are even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths.” First, opioid overdose deaths are serious business and shouldn’t be taken lightly. A record 107,662 Americans lost their lives to this epidemic in 2021.

New, more dangerous substances like nitazene, a group of synthetic opioids, have come to the fore as well. It’s bad enough that you attach the literary, and sometimes comedic figure Frankenstein to them. Then, you lose all credibility when you loop in marijuana, stating, “We’ve even seen these guys [nitazene] being added to marijuana.” What guys? So, this dangerous new substance is cavalierly a “guy”? But more importantly, you again raise from the dead a myth that has repeatedly proven false.

Let me be clear: MARIJUANA IS NOT and CANNOT BE LACED WITH FENTNYL (or its analogs)!! Credible sources (not you) agree, like WebMD, the DEA, Snopes (rated the claim “False”), Harm Reduction Ohio, Filter Mag (excellent overview of the technicalities), Reason, and Forbes that put it this way, “marijuana laced with fentanyl is either so rare as to pose a risk more remote than one in a million. Or it’s a total ‘myth’” Take your pick, AG Yost. Either way, you’re showing your true colors: “Groups who make a living off marijuana prohibition — law enforcement, rehab entrepreneurs and so on — perpetuate the urban myth of fentanyl-laced.” So, AG Yost, this is your solution to the opioid crisis: hyperbole, lies, and fearmongering, with a touch of Frankensteinian logic. No wonder the epidemic just gets worse … P.S. Marijuana could offer an exit.  

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Author

  • Mary Jane Borden is an author, artist, activist and cannabis advocate from Westerville, Ohio. During her 40-year career in drug policy, she has co-founded seven cannabis-oriented groups, co-authored four proposed constitutional amendments, lobbied for six medical marijuana bills and given hundreds of media interviews. Her artwork can be viewed at CannabinArt.com and she can be reached at maryjaneborden@gmail.com.