Cannabis at the Crossroads: A Transdisciplinary Analysis and Policy Prescription
59 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 19, 2020
Cannabis has made a significant return to the mainstream in recent years after many decades 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 total addressable global market for cannabis products might easily approach hundreds of billions of dollars annually. At the same time, the legal cannabis industry faces significant challenges due to the uneven and inconsistent progress made towards expanded legalization and the burden of meeting the expectations of regulators, investors and customers.
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, has been legalized.
This Article takes a transdisciplinary approach and proceeds in eight parts. First, we explore the history of cannabis including its earliest uses and later periods of prohibition and legalization. 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 marijuana use and legalization. Sixth, we describe the future outlook for cannabis businesses in terms of both market potential and regulation. Seventh, we then draw upon these various perspectives to arrive at a policy prescription and provide advice for cannabis entrepreneurs. 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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