“Whether one agrees with the premise or not, it is an emerging area of the law in the country,” said Jon Allison, a Columbus lawyer who represents the Drug Free Action Alliance, which opposes the legalization of marijuana in Ohio. “There are all kinds of clients in the world, and they all deserve good lawyers.”
Professor Douglas Berman is teaching a class on this important fact at Ohio University. Berman doesn’t talk about his opinions in his class, instead he teaches students on how marijuana legalization can affect banking, taxation, criminal law, and politics.
He draws on cases pulled from headlines across the country, including the four states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana. “Almost every morning, I get up and check my Google news feed, and it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s another story I ought to be talking about,’ ” he said. “Things are moving so quickly, there’s no way I could teach everything.” The class also is keeping a sharp watch on Ohio as advocates and opponents square off, with the possibility of a November ballot issue.
“It seems quite possible to me that Ohio is going to be the focal point for debate over marijuana reform throughout 2015 and probably into 2016,” Berman said. Among the 16 students in class on a late Friday, some plan to discover work in the field.
With that said, even students headed into other major studies are taking notice. Berman began the class in 2013 after voters in Colorado and Washington State endorsed measures to make recreational pot legal. He anticipated that more states would follow suit.
Toward the beginning of the semester, Berman draws parallels with the U.S. prohibition era of liquor that finished in 1933. Later, he asks students to delve into a theme, for example, taxing or bioethics.
At its center, the class is a lesson on the complexities that emerge when state and government laws clash. Indeed in states that sanctioned weed, Berman said, there’s an inquiry regarding whether the government assessment code ought to treat venders like entrepreneurs, who get tax cuts, or like illicit merchants.
A reason for the rush for students and for Berman is that they’re contemplating the law as it advances, not at all like different classes that examine hundreds of years’ old guidelines. Rather than a reading material, Berman keeps an online website coordinating students to day-by-day upgrades from the nation over. One of the battles, he said, is picking what he has room schedule-wise to cover in class.