Article – The Jurist: Let It Grow: Why More Law Schools Should Teach Cannabis Law

Douglas A. Berman and Jana Hrdinová

Edited by: Katherine Gemmingen | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, UnitedStates

Douglas A. Berman and Jana Hrdinová, Executive Director and Administrative Director, respectively, of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, talkabout their Center’s current report on marijuana law courses and curriculum at law schools throughout the UnitedStates…

California’s 1996 tally effort safeguarding medical cannabis users from state crook prosecution kicked off the modern-day cannabis reform period in the United States. In part due to federal restriction, state medical cannabis laws triggered an selection of intriguing and elaborate legal concerns. Some concerns worried the reach of federal law after state reforms. Could medicalprofessionals be penalized by federal authorities for suggesting cannabis to clients constant with state law? Could groups offering cannabis to clients raise a medical need defense if topic to federal prosecution? Other concerns occurred at the crossway of unique drug laws and other state laws. Could an company legally fire an worker with a legitimate medical suggestion merely for screening favorable for cannabis? Could cops officers legally search a carsandtruck based just on the odor of cannabis?

Lawyers and courts haveactually been grappling with these and numerous other legal concerns throughout the country as an ever-growing number of states have legislated cannabis for different utilizes. Many constitutional concerns about capacity disputes inbetween federal and state authority and specific rights haveactually inhabited federal courts all the method up the US Supreme Court. A broad selection of state law problems have not simply inhabited state courts, however state administrative bodies and legal principles panels as well, all lookingfor to sort out simply when and how legalrepresentatives can encourage or even play a function in the establishing cannabis market.

A complete quarter century after California’s initially state-level reform, 3 lots states have now signedupwith California in legislating cannabis for a variety of medical utilizes, representing over 70 percent of the UnitedStates population. And 18 states plus the District of Columbia, representing over 40 percent of the UnitedStates population, have likewise legislated marijuana for leisure usage. A big, brand-new marijuana market hasactually come with a number of complex regulative and policy concerns. State policymakers and public legalrepresentatives now face the difficulty of establishing licensing plans and regulative guidelines to safeguard public health and security, creating reliable tax rates and service structures, and advancing fair objectives varying from expunging old convictions to assisting disadvantaged neighborhoods takepart in the market. Private legalrepresentatives assisting cannabis companies needto figure out how to raise capital, browse licensing requirements, and structure acquisitions in the face of varied state laws and relentless federal restriction. Lawyers are likewise called to evaluation and modify workenvironment guidelines about cannabis usage, to recommend propertymanagers, healthcenters, and other locations worrying cannabis usage on their homes, and to address myriad other unique problems in this vibrant field.

And yet, with so numerous brand-new legal concerns to grapple with and such abundant policy locations to argument, incredibly coupleof law schools are cultivating a modern-day curriculum by offering courses on marijuana law and policy for the next generation of legalrepresentatives. Beginning in 2018, our center (the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) hasactually performed an yearly study of law school curriculum to trace the advancement of mentor in the location of marijuana law and policy. We haveactually surveyed law schools’ online course schedules and gottenintouchwith registrar workplaces by e-mail. We were shocked atfirst that hardly one in 10 law schools provided even a single class in this arena; throughout the scholastic year 2018-2019, just 21 out of 201 certified law schools provided 24 cannabis-specific courses to their trainees. This number grew to 29 schools offering 33 courses in 2019-2020, and development continued with 35 schools offering 35 courses in 2020-2021 and lastly 37 schools offering 38 courses in our most current accounting in 2021-2022. But even however the number of used courses hasactually grown over the last 4 years, law schools still lag considerably behind the fast-moving rate of marijuana legalization. While now close to 75 percent of UnitedStates states have some kind of legislated cannabis, less than 20 percent of law schools in the UnitedStates deal direction on marijuana law.

Notably, even schools offering courses in this location do not do so regularly: just 8 schools provided a marijuana course over all 4 of the years we analyzed curricula and 23 schools provided a marijuana course just assoonas over that duration. Coverage of this subject is minimal even in law schools situated in medical- or adult-use states. In the scholastic year 2021-2022, there were 86 law schools situated in states that had legislated adult-use cannabis, however simply over one 4th of the schools (24) provided courses on marijuana law. Of the 57 law schools situated in medical-use just specifies, just 8 provided courses on marijuana law or policy. In overall, of the 143 law schools situated in specifies that have legislated marijuana for either medical or adult-use, just 32 provided courses on marijuana policy and law. Of the 18 mentions that have legislated marijuana for adult-use, 8 states do not have any law schools offering courses on marijuana law, and neither does the District of Columbia. Of the 19 medical cannabis states, 12 had no law schools offering any courses on marijuana law in the 2021-2022 scholastic year. In other words, 20 states out of 37 that have legislated either adult-use or medical cannabis have no law schools that deal courses on marijuana law.

Cannabis chart

Cannabis reform states with no law school marijuana courses

These information recommend that lotsof law schools, consistingof those in specifies that have legislated marijuana for either medical or adult-use, haveactually been sluggish to adjust their curriculum by embracing courses that will assistance prepare the next generation of legalrepresentatives to work in this tough and ever-shifting legal and policy environment. Given the development of the marijuana market as well as the complex nature of the laws and policies that are special to each state, the failure of schools in specifies that have legislated marijuana for either medical or adult-use might be seen as an essential omission in the total training of future legal specialists.

With a focus on its academic worth, the location of marijuana law can serve as a fantastic capstone course for upper-level trainees that offers a bridge inbetween law school mentors and practice of law by providing useful and easytounderstand application for complex legal concerns.  But there can be terrific expert worth for trainees as well.  The Fall 2021 concern of The National Jurist put “Cannabis Law” on its list of “The 20 Hottest Law Jobs for the Next Decade,” no doubt duetothefactthat the number of law companies and other legal companies looking for young legal skill with a understanding base in this field is sure to grow as an ever-growing number of states legislate and establish leisure and medical marijuana routines. Given the relative novelty of this market, its complex regulative environment, and continuing development, trainees who are familiar with marijuana laws might have unique profession chances and possibilities for quick improvement in a vibrant and intriguing field. Notably, the legal press has highlighted that an increasing number of big law companies are beginning to develop substantial marijuana practice groups. It will be worth viewing if a growing number of significant law companies establishing marijuana practices will in turn lead to a growing number of law schools including classes in this location.

Douglas A. Berman is the Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law and the Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Jana Hrdinová is the Administrative Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Suggested citation: Douglas A. Berman and Jana Hrdinová, Let It Grow: Why More Law Schools Should Teach Cannabis Law, JURIST – Academic Commentary, May 11, 2022,



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