Symposium Issue

Introduction: Marijuana Laws and Federalism

In 1971, as a college freshman debater, one of the issues we debated was whether marijuana should be legalized. As I researched the topic, the arguments were overwhelmingly in favor of legalization, and it was difficult to put together a credible case for continued criminalization. Over 45 years have passed and the law has finally […]

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Reefer Madness: How Non-Legalizing States Can Revamp Dram Shop Laws to Protect Themselves from Marijuana Spillover from Their Legalizing Neighbors

Abstract: Reefer madness is sweeping the nation. Despite a federal ban on marijuana, states have begun to legalize medical and, increasingly, recreational use of the drug. As more states legalize marijuana, their non-legalizing neighbors have seen a distinct uptick in marijuana possession and use—and an attendant increase in crime and accidents. In December 2014, Nebraska […]

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A General Theory of Preemption: With Comments on State Decriminalization of Marijuana

Abstract: Marijuana decriminalization is a hotly debated topic, which has nonetheless seen popular support in recent years. Current federal law (the Controlled Substances Act) conflicts with many state decriminalization efforts, raising the obvious question of federal preemption. The Supreme Court has failed to provide a clear answer on how much federal law preempts state marijuana […]

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Policy, Preemption, and Pot: Extra-Territorial Citizen Jurisdiction

Abstract: In contemporary America, legislators send messages about values through symbolic legislation and lawsuits. One conflict is between states where marijuana is legal and others that continue to ban it. This Article evaluates what might happen if anti-marijuana states made it illegal for their citizens to purchase or use marijuana, borrowing a page from the […]

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One Toke Too Far: The Demise of the Dormant Commerce Clause’s Extraterritoriality Doctrine Threatens the Marijuana-Legalization Experiment

Abstract: This Article argues that the pending feuds between neighboring states over marijuana decriminalization demonstrate the need for a strict doctrine limiting a state’s regulatory authority to its own borders. Precedent recognizes that the dormant Commerce Clause (“DCC”) “precludes the application of a state statute to commerce that takes place wholly outside the State’s borders, […]

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Budding Conflicts: Marijuana’s Impact on Unsettled Questions of Tribal-State Relations

Abstract: In the wake of a December 2014 decision by the Department of Justice to deprioritize enforcement of federal marijuana laws against tribes as well as states, many tribes have reevaluated their policies toward marijuana. Tribal attitudes toward marijuana are diverse; some tribes regard marijuana as a public health menace, whereas others see it as […]

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