Public Policy 3 – Marijuana

This week’s topic of public policy led me to think about what is required to cause a change in public opinion which would change public policy sentiments in order to allow Courts to begin to enforce contracts dealing with items that are considered to be illegal or against the welfare of the general public. In specific, I thought about marijuana.

The first and most obvious required change would be for States and the Federal Government to abolish laws making marijuana illegal.  Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws which in some form of effect legalizes marijuana. [1] It seems that to change public policy, public opinion must first change. The idea that marijuana is bad versus for instance, alcohol being good and acceptable, is a direct reflection on the threat legalization of marijuana poses to the profit margin of the opposing industries. Campaigns against the legalization of marijuana, such as a recent campaign in Arizona which “featured lawmakers and teachers painting a bleak future for Arizona’s children if voters approve Proposition 205, which would allow people aged 21 and over to possess an ounce of pot and grow up to six plants for recreational use.” The campaign used rhetoric such as “marijuana legalization will unleash misery on Arizona” to drive home its point. [2] The campaigns appeal to established public policy and attempts to convince the public to ignore cries to sway the public sentiment. This is a prime example of how even though public policy is under constant evolution, the process is often slow and cumbersome. However, while some may not see the merits in such a slow and uncertain path toward changing public policy, other might view this as being slow, methodical and sure that such public policy changes are both helpful and desired by the citizenry.


[1] State Marijuana Laws in 2017 Map Governing, (last visited Apr 8, 2017).

[2] Alfonso Serrano, Inside big pharma’s fight to block recreational marijuana The Guardian (2016), (last visited Apr 8, 2017).

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