Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane



On marijuana, there is no mutual federal-state policy; will this cause federalism to go up in smoke?

More than one-half the 50 states have legalized the use of marijuana at least for medical purposes, and about a dozen of those states have gone further, legalizing it for recreational use. Either step would have been almost inconceivable just a couple decades ago. But marijuana remains an illegal "controlled substance" under a 1970 federal law, so those who sell or grow it could still face federal prosecution.

How can state and federal laws be in such conflict? And could federal law put the new state laws in jeopardy at some point? This book, an edited volume with contributions by highly regarded legal scholars and policy analysts, is the first detailed examination of these and other questions surrounding a highly unusual conflict between state and federal policies and laws.

Marijuana Federalism surveys the constitutional issues that come into play with this conflict, as well as the policy questions related to law enforcement at the federal versus state levels. It also describes specific areas--such as banking regulations--in which federal law has particularly far-reaching effects.

Readers will gain a greater understanding of federalism in general, including how the division of authority between the federal and state governments operates in the context of policy and legal disputes between the two levels. This book also will help inform debates as other states consider whether to jump on the bandwagon of marijuana legalization.

Product Details

Brookings Institution Press
Publish Date
March 17, 2020
5.9 X 0.7 X 8.9 inches | 0.65 pounds
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About the Author

Jonathan H. Adler is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His previous books include Business and the Roberts Court.


"This book makes a considerable, timely, and distinctive contribution to the current literature on marijuana policy and reform."--Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, Moritz College of Law, Director of Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University

"As states continue to experiment with various forms of marijuana legalization, the essays in this book make a welcome addition to the ongoing debate."--Brannon Denning, associate dean and Starnes Professor of Law, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University