Santa Clara University Launches Marijuana Policy Class

SANTA CLARA - Legal pot stores across California? It's something you'll likely vote on next year.

Marijuana shops have rolled out in Colorado and Washington. Oregon and Alaska just passed recreational pot laws as well. Next year, California could vote to do the same.

"It's a really hot topic all around the country,” said Santa Clara Law student Jeff Madrak.

That possibility brought 13 Santa Clara Law students to the classroom of Professor W. David Ball, who is teaching a class on marijuana policy

"If this industry takes off it could be a big thing down the road,” Madrak said.

The students are diving into the legal issues surrounding a recreational marijuana market. They discuss what states like Colorado are doing right and wrong, and what aspects of the law leaders are still trying to refine.

"This is a really new field, and there isn't a lot of information out there,” Ball said.

Some of the questions Ball thinks California would have to answer: how driving under the influence will be measured, how would marijuana sellers be regulated, and should employee drug testing rules be changed?

“I don't think I can answer very many of those. Some of it is just going to be pointing out where the questions are,” Ball said.

Ball is currently the Chair of the Public Safety Working Group for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Law and Policy. He says the students work could help shape future marijuana regulations in California.

“It’s exciting…your work is going to have effect on the legal policy, and the legislation that's going to be proposed in 2016,” Santa Clara Law Student Bethany Brass said.

It's one of the few law classes in the country focusing on marijuana. Students say it’s a rare opportunity. They'll post research updates to a blog available to the public.

They hope next year California will be prepared, whether voters decide to puff or pass.

"There isn't just one way to regulating recreational cannabis, and so we want to figure out what are the best ways,” Professor Ball said.

The students’ blog can be accessed here:

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