American Edibles: How Cannabis Regulatory Policy Rehashes Prohibitionist Fears and What to do About It
107 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 1, 2021
Why can’t we buy a cannabis muffin with our morning coffee? For much of the past century, the answer was simple: cannabis was illegal. Now, however, with more and more states legalizing cannabis for adult use, the answer is far less clear. Even in those states that have legalized cannabis, the simple action of buying and eating edibles at the same location has somehow remained a pipe dream despite consumer demand. Digging a little deeper, we can see how contemporary alarmism, by rehashing the same prohibitionist rhetoric demonizing cannabis for over eighty years, has once again arisen with a new target: cannabis-infused edibles. From journalists to policymakers to legal scholars, the rekindling of prohibitionist arguments against edibles has had real world impacts on the regulation of cannabis edibles, to the harm of all involved.
This Article explores contemporary cannabis edibles regulation using historical, scientific, and legal frameworks to explain why current edibles regulation is so problematic, and what to do about it. By delving into the history of cannabis prohibition, this Article shows how the very same arguments propping up prohibitionist edibles policies are rooted in bad-faith arguments made decades ago that themselves were merely thin veils for racism. Applying this historical perspective and a rational understanding of contemporary cannabis edibles, this Article explores how states have used prohibition-inspired regulations to address two main concerns—overconsumption and inadvertent consumption— and how such regulations need to be revisited and revised. This Article then argues that social consumption sits at the crux of edibles regulation, and that states must implement social consumption imminently to address the harms that current regulations do not address, or even worse, perpetuate.
Keywords: cannabis, legalization of cannabis, cannabis regulation, cannabis edibles, food and drug law, drug policy
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