Decriminalizing the Marijuana User: A Drafter’s Guide

The article does not discuss the arguments in favor of decriminalization, a matter which the author’ and others have covered elsewhere. Nor does the article consider the even more difficult questions involved in a legislative decision to legalize the drug and authorize its distribution for nonmedical uses. International obligations, federal law, and current political realities preclude enactment of a regulatory approach toward the availability of marijuana, including any variant of the so-called alcohol model. Although a state conceivably could repeal its laws against cultivation and distribution of marijuana, including only the federal prohibitions in effect, such an overt departure from prevailing national sentiment seems unlikely. One must assume, for present purposes, that commercial activities will remain prohibited by state law.