UW News

June 1, 2016

UW to host June 14 conference on marijuana policy

News and Information

City and state officials, entrepreneurs, attorneys and others will come together June 14 for a daylong conference at the University of Washington on the future of marijuana policy in the state.

The event, co-hosted by the Cannabis Law and Policy Project and UW Professional & Continuing Education, will be held at the UW School of Law and feature 30-plus speakers. The day aims to provide a comprehensive look at current and future regulations governing the retail and medical marijuana industries in Washington and elsewhere.

The conference kicks off with an overview of state marijuana policy from Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and a presentation from Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes on policy issues in the city.

Following a discussion about recent litigation in Washington’s marijuana industry and an open panel discussion, the event will break off into three afternoon tracks.

A business and enterprise section will delve into banking issues and legal practices in the industry and include a panel discussion with industry representatives. A science and medical track will explore issues ranging from the use of pesticides on marijuana crops to educating consumers about marijuana risks, and a social impact section will look at legal and business practices, cannabis regulations and enforcement, and diversity (or lack thereof) in the industry.

The UW conference comes at a time of rapid changes in the national marijuana landscape. Washington — which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, along with Colorado — is in the process of merging its medical and retail marijuana markets. Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana in 2014, and many are looking to California, where a vote on legalization appears headed for the November ballot, as a bellwether of national legalization efforts.

The public event is the first put on by the Cannabis Law and Policy Project, launched by UW law professor Sean O’Connor in fall 2014 to research regulatory issues around Washington’s new legal marijuana industry. The project’s executive director, Sam Méndez, said while conference participation will count toward attorneys’ mandatory continuing education credits, the day is aimed at a broader audience.

“We’re going to have a mix of policymakers, lawyers and industry leaders,” he said. “I’m excited about the conference. We’re going to have a good discussion about the various issues impacting the cannabis industry.”

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room 138 at the UW School of Law, 4293 Memorial Way NE. Registration is available online, with an early fee of $85 or $120, and $115 or $150 after June 3, and $25 for students anytime.

For more information, contact Méndez at smendez@uw.edu or 206-616-3920.