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UW Law Students Get A Taste Of Pot Law

Ted S. Warren
A pamphlet discussing marijuana use in Washington state is shown on a counter at Cannabis City, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in Seattle.

Marijuana laws in Washington are evolving. And pot is still illegal at the federal level, creating more uncertainty for businesses in states where it is legal.

Some University of Washington law students want to stay on top of all the changes.

After recreational pot was approved by voters, it was clear to UW law professor Sean O’Connor that there would be questions about how to run a business.

Students also had questions — and O’Connor has a background in entrepreneurship law and start-ups, so he founded the Cannabis Law and Policy Project.

“My concern was that not enough people were looking at how you would create this new, and what would have to be, heavily regulated industry.”

A big part of the program is to help figure out pathways for medical research. Because marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the feds, there are legal implications for researchers. O’Connor says this in an area to watch.

“We’ll hopefully get some answers, meaning, you know, can we actually show that there are not just pain-killing benefits of marijuana, but do they actually work on epilepsy or cancer or anything like that.”

Cancer research aside, there are basic questions that O’Connor says need more legal work, including how to prevent over regulation so as not to hold back an emerging industry.