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Cannabis Law


A gavel and block with a cannabis leaf sitting atop the blockWelcome to the Cannabis Law research guide.  This guide is intended to help you start your research of cannabis law issues by outlining some of the authoritative environmental law in the U.S. and California, as well as other helpful resources. Cannabis law is a hot topic right now, and it is rapidly changing at the state level.  Even though it remains an illegal controlled substance at the federal level, many states are making moves towards legalization and/ or decriminalization of cannabis, and there are speculations that the status of cannabis at the federal level will change relatively soon, as well.  Therefore, it is an interesting topic to research right now, but it is very important to stay on top of the constantly evolving laws.

Legal Databases

Westlaw has a Cannabis Law page with relevant texts and treatises.

Lexis's Law360 has a Cannabis page where you can search for news and resources.

Bloomberg Law has a Cannabis In Focus page with several helpful resources.

Cannabis Law Research Methodology

The basic cannabis law research methodology is similar to other areas of legal research, with a couple of added steps:

1. Establish the facts.

2. Identify the issues.

3. Locate authority.

4. Evaluate authority - make sure to evaluate for credibility, objectivity, accuracy, scope, and currency.

5. Locate scientific and/ or technical developments (especially when researching something related to medical marijuana).

6. Evaluate scientific and/ or technical developments.

Repeat steps 1-6 as necessary to complete research and analysis of issues.

7. Develop conclusions and recommendations.

8. Communicate research results and recommendations.

Search Terms

It is important to note that with any combination of search terms that include "cannabis", you should also try replacing the word "cannabis" with "marijuana", "THC", and the alternative spelling "marihuana" in order to obtain the most search results.  This guide will refer to the substance as cannabis, which is currently the most widely accepted legal term, but many sources in the past primarily used the term marijuana.


This guide was written by USD Law student Lilly Walker in December 2021.