A Great Schism: Social Norms and Marijuana Prohibition

Harvard Law & Pol’y Review, Vol. 4, p. 229, 2010

20 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2008 Last revised: 4 Mar 2010

Date Written: February 23, 2010


The discipline of Law and Economics seeks to scientifically analyze law. This Article uses the social norms aspect of the Law and Economics field to examine marijuana prohibition in order to show that policymakers should consider changing the law to better account for social norms. First, the Article investigates the origination of marijuana prohibition to demonstrate that it was not based on scientific evidence as Law and Economics aspires, but rather racial prejudice and social conditions peculiar to the 1930s. Next, the Article uses government surveys to illustrate violation of marijuana laws on a massive scale. It is argued that this widespread violation of the law is damaging to the institution of law itself. Lastly, the Article considers possible objections to changing marijuana laws, including sending the wrong message to children.

Keywords: marijuana, marihuana, law and economics, social norms, marijuana prohibition, prohibition, war on drugs, drug war, marijuana reform, marijuana use, expressive function of law, law enforcement, shafer commission, marijuana arrests, history of marijuana

Suggested Citation

Christiansen, Matthew A., A Great Schism: Social Norms and Marijuana Prohibition (February 23, 2010). Harvard Law & Pol’y Review, Vol. 4, p. 229, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1311664

Matthew A. Christiansen (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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