DEPC Executive Director Douglas Berman releases Marijuana Law and Policy casebook


By Drug Enforcement and Policy Center Staff  |  Autumn 2020

green background with image of cover of Marijuana Law and Policy casebook

Marijuana Law and Policy, by Douglas A. Berman and Alex Kreit, was released in 2020.

Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) Executive Director Douglas A. Berman recently released Marijuana Law and Policy with former DEPC Visiting Professor Alex Kreit. Marijuana Law and Policy provides comprehensive coverage of the contemporary issues of law and policy related to marijuana criminalization, regulation, and reform. Marijuana Law and Policy joins just a few other such casebooks on the subject.

A CASEBOOK ORIGIN STORY

Professor Berman began teaching a seminar on marijuana reform in the autumn of 2013 using a portion of Kreit’s Controlled Substances: Crime, Regulation, and Policy text. But with legal reforms moving at a rapid pace, Professor Berman began collecting materials on a specialized blog. Eager to assemble these emerging resources, Berman seized the opportunity to collaborate with Professor Kreit. “I was excited to have a chance to work with Alex to develop a policy-oriented book that could provide a foundation for teaching different types of courses in the marijuana space,” said Professor Berman.

Marijuana Law and Policy is the third text focused on marijuana law to emerge since Alex Kreit, now director of the Center on Addiction Law & Policy at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law, published his groundbreaking Controlled Substances text in 2013. Reflecting growing interest in marijuana reforms, Carolina Academic Press rereleased Professor Kreit’s casebook as Illegal Drug and Marijuana Law in 2019.

green background with images of the covers of Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority, Cases and Materials on Marijuana Law and Illegal Drug and Marijuana Law

Other notable casebooks in this space include Illegal Drug and Marijuana Law (2013), Cases and Materials on Marijuana Law (2019), and Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority (2017).

FILLING A GAP

Berman and Kreit’s casebook follows the release of two other notable casebooks in this space. Robert Mikos, professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, published Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority in 2017. Professors Howard Bromberg and Mark K. Osbeck of The University of Michigan Law School, along with Michael Vitiello of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, published Cases and Materials on Marijuana Law in 2019. According to Berman, “the recent emergence of three new casebooks in this field should help make more faculty feel comfortable teaching this topic.”

DEPC’s “Teaching Drugs” report, published earlier this year, showed that roughly five out of six accredited U.S. law schools do not teach courses focused on drugs or the evolving legal structures around marijuana. Professor Osbeck believes the issue may in part be a result of law school administrators’ tendency to view marijuana law as an extension of criminal law. “While there is overlap with criminal law, marijuana law is a much broader topic, intersecting with a number of important civil, constitutional, and policy issues,” said Osbeck. When asked why administrators may be slow to adopt courses on marijuana law, Professor Vitiello pointed to the previous lack of coursebooks as a possible cause.

The authors agree that the study of marijuana law has far-reaching benefits, especially for law students. Professor Mikos believes the subject “provides a great vehicle for engaging students about a wide range of important topics.” Professor Bromberg explained that while reforms are inevitably intertwined with political and social issues, marijuana law incorporates pressing medical questions and issues of social justice. “Marijuana law is dynamic, fascinating, diverse, and an enhanced method to study law,” said Bromberg.

As part of the center’s ongoing Teaching Drugs project, DEPC will promote the casebooks alongside a growing package of resources for incorporating drug policy into law school curricula. Professor Berman said he hopes students using his book will appreciate how rich, dynamic, and complicated the field of marijuana law is and will likely remain. “There is extraordinary history behind marijuana policy in particular and drug laws more generally; great students should realize that knowing this history is an important part of becoming a great lawyer.”