Insuring the Product Liability Risks of Cannabis

February 14, 2018

Legal adult-use marijuana is associated with risks that may cause bodily injury and property damage. Many of these risks have been well documented and widely discussed in the media, including theft, fire, motor vehicle accidents and consumption-related injuries. The potential for an increase in the number and value of cannabis-related product liability claims and lawsuits, however, is of particular concern to the cannabis and insurance industries. The production, distribution and sale of an ingestible product that has psychoactive effects – accompanied by a wide range of anticipated labeling and marketing representations – will certainly result in robust product liability litigation.

via Insuring the Product Liability Risks of Cannabis by Ian A. Stewart, Francis Joseph Mootz :: SSRN


Testing Richardson’s Law: A (Cautionary) Note on Power Laws in Violence Data

February 14, 2018

Richardson’s Law says that the relationship between the size of violent wartime events and their frequency is characterized by a simple probability distribution called a power law. Power law distributions have been found in both civil war violence and terrorist attacks and have recently served as the foundation for novel theories of conflict, solutions to missing data problems, and prediction models. This note revisits Richardson’s Law in light of recent data collection efforts, looking at all relevant micro-level conflict event data publicly available in the world today (685,000 events across 16 data sets). I find substantially less support for Richardson’s Law than past research, suggesting serious caveats to claims about its universal nature. By identifying new stylized facts about the heavy-tailed nature of violence, this note lays the groundwork for more nuanced analyses of conflict severity.

via Testing Richardson’s Law: A (Cautionary) Note on Power Laws in Violence Data by Remco Zwetsloot :: SSRN


Government Schools, Parental Rights, and the Perversion of Catholic Morality

February 14, 2018

Almost 100 years ago the US Supreme Court opined that children are “not mere creatures of the state”, noting that parents should be the final arbiter of what is best for each child in the vast majority of cases. Yet this principle falls strangely short in protecting the rights of parents when addressing concerns surrounding certain forms of sexuality education in public school. This article argues that the sex education by necessity is freighted with moral meaning and to many parents that meaning has religious significance. I attempt to persuade the reader that because of the religious dimensions of our understanding of human sexuality a robust conception of religious liberty requires public schools to allow parental control over the sex education of children and that doing so poses little or no threat to legitimate state interests in education, health and public safety.

via Government Schools, Parental Rights, and the Perversion of Catholic Morality by Teresa Stanton Collett :: SSRN


E-Cigarettes and Adult Smoking

February 2, 2018

Over the past few years adult use of e-cigs has been increasing while adult smoking has been declining. It is important to determine if there is a causal effect of e-cig use on smoking because of the known health hazards associated with smoking. An important concern with most prior studies of e-cigs and smoking is that endogeneity between e-cig use and cigarette use is ignored. One contribution of this paper is to instrument e-cig use in order to avoid this endogeneity problem. The data employed to estimate the empirical models come from the 2014-2015 Tobacco Use Supplements (TUS). The data employed in this study rely on the combined July 2014, January 2015 and May 2015 waves of the TUS. The results show that e-cig use increases the probability of a quit attempt, the probability of a quit failure and the number of quit failures. E-cig use is also found to reduce smoking by failed quitters and non-attempters. Past studies have shown that successful quitting may follow after a few years of e-cig use but the TUS is limited to a one year retrospective window, which may be too short to observe the causal effect of e-cigs on successful quit attempts. Although there is no evidence in the TUS regressions that e-cigs use affects the probability of a successful quit, the results for attempts, failures and reduction of smoking suggest that e-cigs create a path toward cessation.

via E-Cigarettes and Adult Smoking by Henry Saffer, Dhaval Dave, Daniel Dench, Michael Grossman :: SSRN


Introduction: Four Views on Healthism

February 2, 2018

What does it mean to discriminate based on health? This is an introduction to a symposium dedicated to our forthcoming book, Jessica Roberts & Elizabeth Weeks, Healthism: Health Status Discrimination and the Law (2017). It provides an overview of the articles contributed by Lindsay Freeman Wiley, Brendan Maher, Jennifer Bennett Shinall, and Jacqueline Fox. Our book, and the symposium, broadly explore the topic of healthism, a concept we repurpose to describe undesirable discrimination based on health status.

The U.S. Constitution requires that people receive equal protection regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion, absent a compelling governmental interest. To a somewhat lesser degree, the government is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender, illegitimacy, and, most recently announced in the Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell v. Rogers decision, sexual orientation. By statute, Congress has limited certain private actors from discriminating also on the basis of disability, pregnancy, genetic information, immigration status, or military affiliation. Conspicuously absent from this list of protected statuses though, is health. Should the law allow unhealthy individuals to be treated less favorably than healthy ones? Or should we recognize a new type of impermissible discrimination, that is to say, healthism?

“Healthism,” like the other “isms” that have preceded it, represents socially undesirable differentiation on the basis of a particular trait, in this case health status. So used, the term carries a pejorative meaning. But not all differentiation on the basis of health necessarily constitutes healthism. In fact, differentiating on the basis of health can be neutral and, in some cases, even desirable. Hence, our project is to distinguish the “good” health-based distinctions from the “bad,” or “healthist,” ones. This book surveys and evaluates the legal regulation of health in a variety of settings, both historically and especially in the wake of recent comprehensive federal health-care reform.

The central suggestion in this book is that the law, and, more generally, society at large, should be attuned to the pervasiveness of an under-recognized and under-theorized form of discrimination based on health status. This book stops short of offering an overarching solution to the problem of health-status discrimination across contexts. What we offer instead is a vocabulary and rubric for naming and categorizing the troubling phenomenon.

via Introduction: Four Views on Healthism by Elizabeth Weeks Leonard, Jessica L. Roberts :: SSRN


Stigmatizing the Unhealthy

February 2, 2018

Stigma can lead to worse relative health and worse health outcomes. However, the perception of ill health itself can be stigmatizing. As part of a larger project comprehensively examining the increasing incidence of “healthism,” we examine a host of examples of normatively wrong discrimination based on health status. One of our criteria for designating a particular form of health-status discrimination normatively wrong is whether it is stigmatizing. Related criteria include whether the classification is animus-driven and whether it has the tendency to punish individuals for private conduct. Although our criteria operate in conjunction, the presence of stigma may turn what otherwise would be a socially desirable, rational reason to treat an individual differently based on health status, including health-related conduct, into an instance of healthism.

In this paper, we would apply our healthism paradigm to two examples, in which stigma is particularly salient. In the United States, two particular groups perceived as being unhealthy — smokers and the obese — face well-documented stigma. One potential source of this stigma is the belief that those individuals are at fault for their smoking or their weight and therefore should bear the risks and the costs of those unhealthy decisions. Not surprisingly then, health policymakers have singled out smokers and the obese as acceptable targets of regulation. Consider the tobacco surcharge in health insurance or the dramatic public service announcements targeting childhood obesity. Yet while smokers and the obese face heightened stigma, whether these policies that result from that stigma actually improve health is uncertain. Given that certain historically disadvantaged individuals — mainly people of color, people with disabilities, and the poor — are more likely to use to tobacco and be overweight, health policies that target smoking and obesity may pose a disproportionate burden on those populations and in so doing exacerbate existing health disparities. Through discussion of these two examples, our paper would explore stigma against individuals perceived as unhealthy and the laws and policies that are enacted on the basis of such stigma. Viewing these examples through our healthism lens reveals that such enactments may worsen health disparities, rather than improving individual or population health.

via Stigmatizing the Unhealthy by Jessica L. Roberts, Elizabeth Weeks Leonard :: SSRN


Roe’s Unfinished Promise: Decriminalizing Abortion Once and for All

January 13, 2018

Roe’s Unfinished Promise: Decriminalizing Abortion Once and For All is the first comprehensive paper about the criminalization of non-clinical abortion in the U.S. and efforts to eliminate threats, while increasing protections, for people who end pregnancies outside the formal healthcare system. It includes a chart listing problematic laws state by state, maps highlighting the places where people who self-induce abortion are most at risk of an unjustified arrest, excerpts from relevant statutes, and case summaries. The report concludes with recommendations for efforts to liberate non-clinical abortion from the constraints of misunderstanding and the restraints of criminalization.

via Roe’s Unfinished Promise: Decriminalizing Abortion Once and for All by Farah Diaz-Tello, Melissa Mikesell, Jill Adams :: SSRN