Cannabis regulation, interstate compacts, and universal licensure: What’s new in Ascend Magazine

What makes regulating marijuana so difficult? And with pandemic-related labor shortages forcing regulators to loosen licensure restrictions, what does the future of interstate licensing look like? We break down this and more in Ascend Magazine’s latest monthly digest.

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Though government agencies and regulators are fundamentally distinct, they share a lot of common ground. They all faced the multitude of impacts created by the global pandemic, including transitioning to remote, digital-first workforces. They all deal with licensing backlogs and labor shortages. And they all struggle to encourage more mobility among licensed professionals without compromising professional standards.

It is these and other common threads that tie regulators together, and it is these topics we cover in this, our monthly Ascend Magazine digest. 

Why regulating marijuana is so darn tricky

Over the past few years, several states have started decriminalizing and licensing marijuana, and everything has been smooth sailing, right? Not so. Turns out, implementing a licensing system that is fair to applicants who want to capitalize on legalization while ensuring markets aren’t oversaturated is especially difficult.

As a result, marijuana licensure in the U.S. is indeed a complicated patchwork, but Ascend writer Ariel Visconti has done an amazing job tying it all together in her feature story on why it’s still such a struggle. It’s one of the few pieces out there that makes sense of the complicated world of cannabis licensure.

Why is the Nurse Licensure Compact getting bigger?

The pandemic may have exacerbated nursing shortages and labor shortages in general, but they are nothing new. Nor is the general desire among medical professionals to work between and beyond state and provincial lines.  

The National Counsel of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) introduced the first official Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) to address inefficiencies with the traditional state-by-state licensure system. These days, as the global pandemic wanes, the NLC continues to make headlines as more states join in order to grant health care professionals more mobility and freedom in their work.

But what’s behind this compact? Is it effective? And what lies ahead for a program ultimately created to make skilled health care more available across geopolitical boundaries? Our writer Jordan Milian explores in his brief history of the NLC. And for more on the ins and outs of interstate compacts, make sure to check out this piece on how they work.  

Does universal licensing make sense?

So, what if we took the spirit of the NLC and expanded it to all professions and all jurisdictions? Well, we’d have something along the lines of universal licensing, a contentious topic with vocal advocates on both sides of the debate.

Proponents of universal license recognition say that it alleviates labor shortages and helps skilled workers begin their careers faster. Opponents say this “one-size-fits-all” approach dilutes licensing requirements that exist to protect the public. Which side is correct? The answer is far from simple, as you’ll see in this excellent piece on universal licensing which asks the question: does universal license recognition enable mobility or compromise standards?

AI is already happening in digital government

AI is everywhere these days, but government agencies may be surprised to realize it is more than theory in the context of regulation. Illinois is using machine learning to fight fraud and strengthen its education system while Cincinnati uses AI to support dispatch during medical emergencies. In this introductory piece on AI in digital government, we explore these and other ways in which complicated algorithms are being used to improve government services.

For a deeper dive into AI’s role and potential in regulation, read Anna van der Gaag’s column on how AI can and is used in regulation and also listen to a recent Ascend Radio podcast in which she shares how regulators can embrace AI for improved regulatory decision-making. 

What’s on Harry Cayton’s mind these days?

Few individuals have left their mark on regulation around the globe like Harry Cayton. He has been sought after the world round for his analysis, insight, and recommendations on regulatory practices. As you might imagine, decades in regulation have given Harry a unique perspective on all aspects of licensing: how it differs (and is the same) from country to country, how it strengthens (or weakens) the quality of licensed services, and how it has changed in the face of a global pandemic.  

As a regular contributor to our Voices series, which shares insight and commentary from regulatory experts from around the world, Harry has shared his perspectives on whether good governance actually requires good character, whether regulatory requirements adjusted during the pandemic were necessary in the first place, and most recently, whether regulation is a constant or a variable. We also recently sat down with Harry for an Ascend Radio podcast on fairness, equality, diversity, the regulatory challenges of the pandemic, and moral duty in the context of regulation.

In case you missed it…

Those new to Ascend Magazine will definitely want to check out these essential reads: 


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