Drug Law and Policy

Drug Policy - Professor Rob Bovett

  • Course Number: LAW-383
  • Course Type: Highly Specialized
  • Credits: 2
  • Enrollment Limit: Determined by the Registrar
  • Description:   Drug policy has been changing rapidly across Oregon, the United States, and internationally. While most illicit drugs remain an illegal controlled substance under federal law, many states have legalized marijuana under state law to varying degrees. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize possession of marijuana (in 1973), the second state to authorize medical marijuana (in 1998), and the third state to legalize recreational marijuana (in 2014). Oregon also became the first state to legalize and regulate the use of psilocybin (in 2020). That same year, Oregon also became the first state to experiment with decriminalizing hard drugs, such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, which did not go well and was reversed through legislative action in 2024.
    This class covers a wide range of legal issues related to drug law and policy. In particular, it surveys the legal aspects of federal drug regulation, the state and federal controlled substances acts, legalized markets for cannabis and psilocybin, and the failure of decriminalization of hard drugs, using Oregon as its state-level focal point. Topics surveyed in this class include constitutional law, federalism, conflict of laws, frameworks for legalizing and regulating marijuana, addiction, mass incarceration, diversion programs, public health and safety, prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction, among others. Experts in some of these areas will provide guest lectures to help frame the issues for students.
    Considering the complexity of drug law and policy, as well as being one of the most fraught public policy issues in our country today, a variety of opinions from experts and students is both expected and encouraged. Critical thinking skills and a high tolerance for a diversity of opinions are prerequisites.
  • Prerequisite: none
  • Evaluation Method: Final paper and class participation
  • Capstone: no
  • WIE: no