Ensuring Marijuana Reform Is Effective Criminal Justice Reform

27 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021

See all articles by Douglas A. Berman

Douglas A. Berman

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Alex Kreit

Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law

Date Written: January 19, 2021

Abstract

In less than a decade, marijuana legalization has gone from unthinkable to seemingly unstoppable. This essay — written for a special issue on improving Arizona’s criminal justice system — discusses how Arizona should best advance marijuana legalization so that it can significantly improve Arizona’s criminal justice system. Now that Arizona has legalized marijuana via ballot initiative, we do not wade too deeply into the arguments for and against legalization or the criminal justice impact inherent in the repeal of prohibition (such as reductions in marijuana arrests and sentences). Instead, we focus on steps that Arizona policymakers and advocates who are interested in improving the criminal justice system can take to ensure that legalization best advances this goal. First, we set the stage in Part I with a brief history of marijuana prohibition, its role in criminal enforcement today, and the movement to enact state legalization laws. In Part II, we turn our attention to Arizona, beginning with a description of marijuana reform efforts in Arizona and key facets of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. We then provide recommendations for policymakers and other concerned parties about how to ensure modern marijuana reforms in Arizona (and elsewhere) can and should help build a reform infrastructure that could not only ensure record relief to redress past marijuana convictions but also address broader criminal justice issues that historically intersect with marijuana prohibition.

Keywords: Marijuana reform, cannabis reform, marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform, marijuana prohibition, decriminalization

Suggested Citation

Berman, Douglas A. and Kreit, Alex, Ensuring Marijuana Reform Is Effective Criminal Justice Reform (January 19, 2021). Arizona State Law Journal, Forthcoming, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Ohio State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 594, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3769271 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3769271

Douglas A. Berman (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Street
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-688-8690 (Phone)

Alex Kreit

Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law ( email )

Nunn Hall
Highland Heights, KY 41099
United States

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