What Will Federal Marijuana Reform Look Like?
32 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2016 Last revised: 16 May 2016
Date Written: June 1, 2015
Somewhat suddenly, the last two years have seen the once-impossible idea of reforming federal marijuana law become seemingly inevitable. After spending more than a decade unsuccessfully trying to block state medical marijuana laws, the federal government decided in 2013 to let Colorado and Washington implement marijuana legalization laws without a fight. With marijuana public support for legalization only continuing to increase and more state enacting marijuana reforms, a nationwide federal prohibition on marijuana is quickly becoming untenable.
But if uniformly enforced federal marijuana prohibition is no longer sustainable, what should a new policy look like? Perhaps because the prospect of a move away from federal marijuana prohibition has seemed so remote for so long, there has not been much serious dialogue about the pros and cons of the different federal policy options. So much energy has been directed at the debate about whether to change federal marijuana laws that the question of how to change them has been almost an afterthought. Barring a dramatic political reversal, however, it is no longer a matter of if but when, and that makes the how of federal marijuana reform increasingly important.
Instead of trying to find the best short-term fix to the current state-federal conflict, it is time to start thinking seriously about what federal marijuana policy should look like for the next forty or fifty years. This Article aims to help further the dialogue on this question.
Keywords: marijuana law, drug law, legalization, drug war
JEL Classification: K14, K23, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation