Colleges, Law Schools Adapting Marijuana Ed into Curricula


The University of Denver has added a new class to the DU Sturm College of Law: Representing the Marijuana Client.
The class is the first of its kind, teaching lawyers-in-training the ins and outs of working directly with the cannabis industry.

There are currently six schools across the country to offer classes dealing with the drug, although DU is the first to address it head-on. While marijuana has historically been a part of law school curriculum, the subject has typically been discussed in classes pertaining to the national drug policy or criminal law, writes David Migoya for The Denver Post.

In addition, most of the schools offering classes specifically related to marijuana are keeping the subject on legal theory and practice.

“Very few lawyers don’t have questions about how marijuana law will impact their practice,” said DU law professor Sam Kamin, who considered the class a necessity, especially in Colorado, where recreational production, sale and consumption of pot is legal. “Legalizing the conduct has made it a more complicated area of law,” Kamin said. “From the conflicts of state and federal law, to securities law, to ethics, it’s all in play.”

The issue is coming to light across the country as more schools are giving the topic attention.

In the spring of 2014, Harvard University Law School held the ground-breaking seminar, “Tax Planning for Marijuana Dealers.” The seminar, conducted by Benjamin Moses Leff, an associate professor at American University Washington College of Law, dealt with the federal laws that cause marijuana businesses to be unable to conduct legitimate businesses from their taxes.

That seminar offered the legitimacy needed to convince Hofstra University’s School of Law that a class dealing specifically with marijuana could be successful.

New York City attorney Marc Ross created his class, Business and Legal Issues Related to Marijuana, and reached capacity immediately after it opened. The class has a waiting list of over 50 students.

For the class, Ross is using a fictional business, Cannabis Inc., in hopes of addressing the issues that could come into play, including planning and enforcement, and also ethical and regulatory issues.

Elsewhere, Massachusetts recently saw the opening of the new Northeastern Institute of Cannabis, which promises to train its students positions in the marijuana field, from dispensary workers to medical marijuana educators, writes Katherine Landergan for The Boston Globe.

The first dispensaries are expected to open in the state next year. Help wanted ads for medical marijuana workers are already making an appearance on It is expected that each of the 15 provisionally approved dispensaries in the state will hire around 40 workers, and then continue to hire on an as-needed basis.

It is unclear how many jobs the field will create, although it “could be significant,” says Amanda Reiman, manager of marijuana law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance.

So far, the school has graduated 12 students and has 64 enrolled.

In order to graduate, students must successfully complete four 12-hour courses that discuss marijuana use as a medicine, state marijuana laws, and the science of growing the drug. However, marijuana is not allowed on school grounds.

Students must also pass a two-hour exam with a score of at least 70% on each of 12 sections, and an over-all score of 75%.

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