Until recently, the topic of marijuana only came up in law school classes during discussions about criminal or constitutional law.
Now, some schools across the country are adding courses that hope to tackle some of the challenges facing the nation as states begin legalizing the drug.
In some states pot will be legal only to a few with serious medical conditions, while in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington people are free to use for recreation. The issues that need to be addressed seem endless. How do bordering cities and states manage the differences in the laws? Who gets to sell? How do you tax it? Do DUI laws change? What about employers who require drug testing? These are just some of the things that will be addressed in several new law school courses.
Vanderbilt University Law School will tackle some of these issues in a new class being offered next semester. Similarly, Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University and South Texas College of Law both partnered with Rice University to offer courses on marijuana policy. Students at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver can learn about representing clients with marijuana concerns.
Law Professors tell the National Law Journal that every attorney should be studying up on this stuff, not just those who plan to practice in this area. They believe that almost every aspect of the law will eventually be touched by the changes in marijuana’s legal status.
At the core of many of these courses is an attempt to identify how to best represent clients. Since pot is still illegal under federal law, are attorneys crossing ethical lines to represent them?
It is a fascinating subject that will surely spur some interesting debates. While the discussions are important, many of these issues are going to take years to settle as new cases make their way through the courts.
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