American flag with marijuana plant imprinted

What They're Teaching in Marijuana Law College Classes


Sober Recovery Expert Author

American flag with marijuana plant imprinted

Though it might seem like it’s straight out of a stoner comedy targeting college-aged young adults, marijuana law classes really are a budding reality at a growing number of college campuses. And although it may seem laughable to some, it makes sense that this is becoming a course all on its own.

A Complicated Matter

Marijuana law could easily be lumped into a catch-all drug law college course, but policy for this drug is complex enough these days to justify being its own fully credited class. Why? Because marijuana is federally illegal while fully legal – even recreationally – in some states. Balancing the nuances of the law here is tricky territory and students who might find themselves in careers that require understanding how federal and state laws can work together in respect to marijuana legislation should learn all that they can about this grey area.

Get schooled on what's going on in marijuana law education and the issues that its tackling.

To add to the complexity of a federally illegal substance that is recreationally legal in some states, marijuana is medically legal in other states, decriminalized in some and still completely illegal in every sense of the word in the states left behind. These laws seem to be continually changing, so providing a course on the subject that is current makes sense and covering the grey areas of the legalization of marijuana is just the beginning of the discussion.

So, just what are they teaching in these marijuana law courses?

The Curriculum

Ohio State University and the University of Denver are among the colleges paving the path with marijuana law courses. Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, also offers a class titled “Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Marijuana Legalization." What’s being covered in these classes is more expansive than one might think at the offset.

A few of the big course topics across several different universities include:

The Controlled Substances Act: The Controlled Substances Act is what deems marijuana possession and use illegal at a federal level. In many of these law courses, students are being taught how to utilize the law to navigate federal law vs. state law. Many of the students taking this kind of course are on their way to becoming lawyers or, perhaps, marijuana entrepreneurs – like dispensary owners. The federal law vs. state law will be a grey area so long as this discrepancy exists, but talking through the ins and outs of it all will help these future lawyers and businesspeople navigate this developing terrain.

Financial Assistance: Owners of dispensaries as well as others in the marijuana industry often encounter difficulty with obtaining financial assistance for their business. This problem can range from getting a loan to even finding a bank willing to work with the business. Future and current lawyers alike who take courses like these are learning how they might be able to help their clients in the marijuana business get the financial assistance they need.

Law Enforcement: Students of marijuana law courses are learning how law enforcement officials deal with marijuana growth, possession, use and sale based on their respective local laws as well as the federal law. This is important because marijuana law professionals should know how to defend their clients if or when they face issues with law enforcement.

Use of Marijuana Profits: Some states, like Colorado, are receiving money from taxes that are placed on marijuana sales. Covering the topic of marijuana profits helps students understand how states can best spend these types of revenues.

It’s likely that the number of marijuana-centric classes on campuses across the nation is going to increase in the coming year. And it should: with the legalization of marijuana on the rise, each business and consumer involved with marijuana should have the knowledge they need – or at least access to it – to protect themselves.

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