Course Details

Legal & Regulatory Issues in Emerging Industries

On November 5, 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, thus starting a two-decade journey where several states enacted laws allowing citizens access to cannabis for medical purposes – creating a legal industry based on a substance that had been federally illegal since the 1930s. Often light on structure, many programs appeared unregulated; basically giving people access to cannabis under the guise that it was “legal” in the state while continuing to be illegal on a federal level. On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an update to its federal cannabis enforcement policy. While not a change in federal law, the DOJ memo, often referred to as the Cole Memo, provided states with a framework for establishing regulated cannabis programs (medical and adult-use) that would defer enforcement of cannabis-related matters to the states. Thus began the new generation of the state-legal cannabis industry. As of today, 29 states plus Puerto Rico and Guam have legalized medical cannabis; 8 of those states have legalized adult-use; and an additional 17 states have enacted CBD-only laws (cannabis containing less than .3% THC) – in total 95% of the U.S. population lives in a state where there is some form of legal cannabis. The legalized cannabis markets produced approximately $7.2B in sales in 2016 and that number is expected to surpass $24B in 2025. That said, cannabis remains federally illegal – the federal government providing only superficial guidance to states on how they can choose to enforce cannabis laws within their state (but only within their state because the federal government will not allow the product to cross state lines) – presenting some of the most unique legal and regulatory issues that any industry has seen. This course is designed to acquaint students with the legal and regulatory challenges present in the emerging cannabis industry. We’ll take a look at the very interesting history of cannabis and cannabis legalization/illegalization in the U.S., the current state of federal law and the various state laws and the unique business issues that such conflicting federal/state laws present; we’ll review a case study of a company developing a multi-state operation; and we’ll look at the various directions that this industry is likely to go in the future.

Catalog Number: REGLAW 990-0
Additional Course Information: MSL students only


Course History

Fall 2017
Title: Legal & Regulatory Issues in Emerging Industries
Faculty: Bachtell, Charles I
Section: 1     Credits: 0.5
Capacity: 50     Actual: 6

Summer 2017
Title: Legal & Regulatory Issues in Emerging Industries
Faculty: Bachtell, Charles I
Section: 1     Credits: 0.5
Capacity: 12     Actual: 8