Covers theoretical, empirical, and comparative aspects of such topics as socio-legal concepts, justice, legal policies, and the institutions of law. Recommended: either POL S 101, POL S 202, POL S 204, or SOC 110.
This course explores the political, economic, and cultural history of cannabis criminalization in the U.S. This class will follow a double track throughout the quarter. The first will be a straightforward historical approach to cannabis criminalization, and the other first (as they will occur simultaneously) will assess and analyze various current topics and approaches against the militarization of marijuana enforcement. These include two recent prominent Supreme Court cases (Raich v Gonzales and "Bong Hits 4 Jesus"); the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project’s successful local legal reform efforts; Seattle’s spectacular annual pro-pot rally, Hempfest; issues and politics related to the medical marijuana movement; consumption rights and counterculture arguments; the 2008 presidential platforms of Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel; states rights vs. federal supremacy; and much more.
The class will not focus on whether or not marijuana should be rescheduled, decriminalized, or legalized. Rather, it will explore the extraordinarily diverse arguments that dissent to the current punitive paradigm, and the ideological and practical obstacles for reforming the current system. The class will offer an array of guest speakers (including activists and politicians), lectures, texts, documentaries and discussion.
Student learning goals
Become familiar with the political, economic and cultural history of cannabis criminalization.
Learn how to identify different ideological and political approaches to reform of the punitive paradigm.
Become familiar with politics and ideology of current punitive paradigm.
Learn about practical obstacles to reform.
General method of instruction
Eclectic: Guest speakers, readings, documentaries, discussion, lecture.
Willingness to develop critical thinking skills.
Class assignments and grading
Midterm, final, and group or individual project.
Grades on assignments plus participation on epost discussion board.