Category Archives: Recreational Marijuana

CLPP’s 2nd report for WSLCB is out, concerning cannabis-infused edibles & access to children

By Sam Méndez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

Today our second report for the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (WSLCB) was released, announced by UW Today. The report is titled “Concerning Cannabis-Infused Edibles: Factors That Attract Children to Foods” and it seeks to provide WSLCB with a research foundation for regulating cannabis-infused edibles with children in mind, supporting some of their already established policies on the subject and providing the potential for new ones.


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CLPP to launch fundraising campaign with Snoop Dogg at Vela

By Sam Méndez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project


A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, with the [DEA’s announcement] that they won’t reschedule marijuana but will allow new entities to produce it for research purposes, ending the University of Mississippi’s monopoly on that front. We owe at least one blog post on those issues.

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CLPP hosted delegation from Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority

By Sam Méndez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

Late last month the Cannabis Law & Policy Project had the pleasure of hosting Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority (JCLA) here at UW Law to have a conversation with a few local experts about cannabis legalization. They were brought to us by Washington Office for Latin America’s John Walsh, and we were joined by attorneys Mitzi Hensley Vaughn (Greenbridge Corporate Counsel), Christine Masse (Miller Nash Graham & Dunn), and Robert McVay (Harris Moure). The full list of the JCLA representatives are below.

© Cannabis Law & Policy Project

© Cannabis Law & Policy Project


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Cannabis Legislation Round-Up: States That May Vote on Cannabis This November

By Jason Liu, second-year stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton School of Law. 

Used under the Creative Commons License

This November, at least 12 states may have cannabis legislation on the ballot. Although a limited number of states allow use of cannabis such as Colorado or Washington, this number may increase this year. Importantly, these may be trends of higher public acceptance towards cannabis. Furthermore, the increase in state legalized systems will place pressure on Congress to review the federal DEA laws listing cannabis as Schedule 1.  Continue reading

Responding to Erwin Chemerinsky’s Op-Ed on Marijuana Legalization

By Sam Mendez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

There is been much recent discussion, both on this blog and around the country, about the possibility of legalizing marijuana at the federal level (or at least changing it’s current legal status). Beyond simply arguing for or against the idea, there are questions as to how exactly legalization would occur if the day came. Naturally, there is more to it than what initially meets the eye. Earlier today, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Erwin Chemerinsky that points out how legalization will not be as swift or simple as some might think.

Photo credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Erwin Chemerinsky is one of the nation’s most respected legal scholars, particularly in constitutional law. He is currently the second-most frequently cited American legal scholar. It would be folly to attempt to pin him down as “pro-” or “anti-” legalization, though he does write in the op-ed, “Like the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s, the prohibition of marijuana has been a failure.” In 2013, he wrote a very interesting piece in the L.A. Times urging the federal government to respect the laws of Washington and Colorado, which had recently legalized marijuana. In that piece, Chemerinsky argued that these state laws were not necessarily preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes possession of marijuana a punishable crime. “Preemption” is a legal doctrine that effectively means where there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the federal laws will carry the day. As Chemerinsky wrote,

The preemption doctrine is based on the supremacy clause of Article VI of the Constitution, which makes federal law “the supreme law of the land” trumping conflicting state laws. The question, then, is whether there is a conflict between the federal government prohibiting small amounts of marijuana and some states not doing so.

He then argued that there is not a conflict when one level of government has a law prohibiting conduct and another level of government does not have such a law. He stated, “a state can decide that certain conduct does not violate state law even if it offends federal law. It is then for the federal government to decide how, if at all, it wants to enforce the federal law.”

In the piece published today, Chemerinsky stated correctly that legalizing marijuana at the federal level will not necessarily make marijuana legal in the entire country, because states may still have laws prohibiting marijuana. He wrote,

Completely legalizing marijuana in the United States would require the actions of both the federal government and every state government. If the federal government repealed its criminal prohibition of marijuana or rescheduled the drug under federal law, that would not change state laws that forbid its possession or sale. Likewise, state governments can repeal their marijuana laws, in whole or in part, but that does not change federal law.

Chemerinsky is correct that a change of laws at one level of government does not necessarily affect the laws of another level of government. He also correctly pointed out the effort government has gone to arrest people for marijuana violations, particularly African Americans and Latinos.

What was not mentioned in this op-ed was the likely subsequent scenario should federal laws change: and that is the inevitability of states following and legalizing marijuana. To be sure, states and localities would be free to prohibit marijuana just as some communities still prohibit alcohol. But the majority of states and localities would probably legalize following a hypothetical federal legalization, simply because of the potential tax base gained from regulating marijuana. Colorado, merely the 22nd largest state by population, raised nearly $1 billion in 2015 in marijuana related taxes. Plenty of arguments can be made against legalizing marijuana, be they moral or health related, but what state could resist those potential taxes?

This is not to say that Chemerinsky is wrong. He is correct to state that legalization will be “much harder than you think.” Still, one must wonder how fast legalization at the state level would pick up steam if the federal government made such a change.

Something in the Air – Cannabis & Clean Air Policies

By Sam Mendez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

Recently, the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (LCB) sent out an email on behalf of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), a regional government agency tasked with keeping the Puget Sound’s air clean. The email reminds producers and processors of marijuana in the region that in order to operate they must submit a Notice of Construction (NOC) application to obtain an Order of Approval from the PSCAA.

Cannabis is a very different product from tobacco, with it’s own regulatory structure to boot. But businesses in both industries have to abide by state and federal clean air rules, just as individuals smoking either product have to abide by public smoking rules. In King County, which includes Seattle, use of vaporizers in public is banned as well.


Credit: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

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Cannabis in the EU?


By Jason Liu, second-year stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton School of Law. 

Image used under the Creative Commons License.

The CLPP Blog has been covering the cannabis policy in North America, and will now look at the European Union. This blog post will briefly review the cannabis policies of the major European nations from a unified EU perspective. Continue reading

SCOTUS Refuses to Hear Case on Colorado’s Legal Marijuana

By Daniel Shortt

SCOTUSbuilding_1st_Street_SEThe Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)  rejected Nebraska and Oklahoma’s challenge to Colorado’s marijuana legalization. Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado for legalizing marijuana, alleging that marijuana from Colorado strained Nebraska and Oklahoma’s resources and forced them to spend time and money battling marijuana. The lawsuit did not seek to require Colorado to ban the personal use of marijuana or prosecute marijuana use as a crime. The lawsuit instead sought to shut down Colorado’s legalization program that allows for legal growing and distribution of marijuana.

The Justices’ voted 6-2 to deny Nebraska and Oklahoma’s motion for leave to file a complaint, without providing an explanation.

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Comments on Mexico’s National Debate on Marijuana Legalization, Part 2

By Sam Mendez, Executive Director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project

A protester carries a sign saying "Make a joint, not war." Photo: AFP

A protester carries a sign saying “Make a joint, not war.” Photo: AFP

The following reflects the views of the author and not necessarily that of the Cannabis Law & Policy Project or the University of Washington.

On Tuesday, March 8th, I was honored to take part in Mexico’s Third Forum of the National Debate on the use of Cannabis in Saltillo, Coahuila. The prior two Forums concerned public health, prevention, ethics, and human rights, while this Forum’s covered topics of economics and regulation. My presentation was largely similar to the one given at Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights (see last week’s blog post), but shorter and without the discussion on cannabis’ dangers and human rights issues. Due to time constraints, I presented mostly on Washington’s marijuana regulatory system and its effect on the economy. Also, I spoke little in terms of advocacy, though some debate arose after presentations. Continue reading