Cannabis at the Crossroads: A Transdisciplinary Analysis and Policy Prescription
64 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2020 Last revised: 16 Jun 2021
Date Written: February 19, 2020
Cannabis has returned to the mainstream in recent years after an interlude of legal prohibition and partial societal stigmatization. 2019 U.S. state-legal cannabis sales have been estimated at 13.6 billion dollars with predictions for sales to near 30 billion by 2025. The global market for cannabis products - including a range of products produced from non-psychoactive hemp - could approach hundreds of billions of dollars annually. At the same time, the legal cannabis industry faces significant challenges in the United States; legalization has been uneven, with disparities among states, and federal law continues to impose obstacles to predictability in the nationwide market for cannabis.
Conflicts between U.S. federal and state laws regarding cannabis are numerous. Federal law treats most forms of cannabis as illegal, yet 97.7 percent of the U.S. population –– located in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 4 U.S. territories –– are living in jurisdictions where medical or recreational use of cannabis, including cannabidiol (“CBD”) oil, is now legal.
This Article takes a transdisciplinary approach and proceeds in eight parts. First, we explore the history of cannabis including its earliest uses, noting periodic prohibitions. Second, we look at applicable current U.S. federal statutes, both criminal and non-criminal. Third, we consider the legalization approaches and experiences in the states. Fourth, we look at the Canadian experience including national recreational market legalization in 2018. Fifth, we examine the ethical issues around recreational and medical marijuana use. Sixth, we describe the future outlook for cannabis businesses in terms of both market potential and regulation. Seventh, we describe Congressional proposals to change federal laws on cannabis. Eighth, we then draw upon these various perspectives to arrive at a policy prescription. And last, we conclude.
Keywords: business, cannabis, CBD, controlled substance, criminal justice, decriminalization, drug policy, entrepreneurship, ethics, FDA, federalism, hemp, legalization, legislation, localism, marihuana, marijuana, medical marijuana, policy, preemption, prohibition, regulation
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