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Weed 101 Law Class at Ohio State University

Maureen Meehan

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Professor Douglas Berman is teaching a class about marijuana, popularly known as Weed 101, at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.

Prof. Berman, from Harvard Law School, says he’s heard all the jokes; but, in fact, believes this is a serious matter.

“This is a serious area that is a matter of significant public policy,” Berman told The Columbus Dispatch. “If we leave it to the snickers and the ha-ha’s and the people who think it’s a joke, you ensure that it’s not going to be regulated and reformed in a sensible way.”

The class, “Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform,” is among only a few in the country that explore federal and state laws surrounding marijuana and how legalization affects banking, taxation, criminal justice and politics.

Berman said the course is a lesson on the complexities that arise when state and federal laws conflict and whether, in legalized pot states, federal tax code should treat sellers like business owners, with tax benefits, or illegal dealers.

“State-level reforms have an extra layer of complication to them,” Berman said. “That’s a very valuable lesson for all lawyers to understand.”

In addition to the attractive subject matter, in all its forms, students enjoy studying laws that are constantly evolving. Instead of a textbook, Berman keeps an online blog and his 16 students keep on top of daily updates from across the country.

“Things are moving so quickly, there’s no way I could teach everything,” said Prof Berman.

Maureen Meehan is a New York-based writer, who has worked as a foreign correspondent for many years.

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