The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law focuses on promoting and supporting interdisciplinary, evidence-based research, scholarship, education, community outreach and public engagement on the myriad issues and societal impacts surrounding the reform of criminal and civil laws prohibiting or regulating the use and distribution of traditionally illicit drugs. The center examines the impact of modern drug laws, policies and enforcement on personal freedoms and human well-being, giving particularized and sustained attention to analyzing the rapid evolution of marijuana laws and the impacts of state-level reform efforts.
A First-in-the-Nation Course
The fast changing environment surrounding marijuana reform has created a new demand for relevant courses covering this evolving field. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law was the first in the country to respond by offering a marijuana-specific course in 2013. The seminar, titled “Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform”, was taught by Professor Douglas A. Berman, now the executive director of DEPC. Given the growing popularity of the class, additional courses have been developed at Moritz by DEPC faculty. Courses offered through the DEPC focus on everything from marijuana business law to drug crimes.
To better understand how other law schools currently approach these issues, the DEPC has conducted three annual surveys of all accredited law schools in the U.S. and hosted a workshop. The April 2019 workshop assembled 20+ legal scholars who work in this space. The surveys and workshop were designed to identify law school courses currently taught and the primary obstacles to teaching this subject matter.
The first report, “Teaching Drugs: Incorporating Drug Policy into Law School Curriculum”, details academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20. A follow-up report was produced for the 2020-21 school year. Both reports show that the vast majority of accredited U.S. law schools, roughly five out of six, do not teach courses focused on drugs or the evolving legal structures around cannabis.