McGeorge School of Law

Marijuana And The Law Proves A Timely Topic

April 20, 2011

The McGeorge Law Review's symposium on marijuana and the law, which was held on April 15, 2011, attracted a large crowd of interested attorneys and members of the general public to campus.

"The Road to Legitimizing Marijuana: What Benefit at What Cost?" featured some of the leading legal scholars in the country on the subject, including the event's lead organizer, Professor Michael Vitiello.

"The event went extremely well," said Vitiello. "Originally, we planned for approximately 60 attendees and twice as many people showed up after we moved the event to a larger venue. I worked on the conference for months with Katie Nystrom, the symposium editor of the McGeorge Law Review. She and the rest of the McGeorge Law Review board were a delight to work with and deserve much praise."

Speakers included Robert Weisberg, director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center; Susan Mandiberg, Lewis & Clark Law School; Sam Kamin, University of Denver College of Law; Dr. Itai Danovitch, director of addiction psychiatry clinical services, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Judge Steven Alm, First Circuit Court, Hawaii; Benjamin Wagner, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of California, Antonio Martinez, former Attorney General, Baja California, Mexico; and McGeorge professors Emily Garcia Uhrig and Gerald Caplan.

"Julie Davies, Mary-Beth Moylan and Leslie Jacobs, who served as moderators, kept us on task," Vitiello said. "Leslie handled questions directed to Wagner from a number of folks, including an operator of a medical marijuana dispensary and one of her lawyers. That was an interesting exchange."

Martinez opened the conference with some hair-raising tales of Mexican drug cartel violence. He said that legalization of marijuana in California would curb pot-related violence in Mexico, but he predicted cartels would only increase other forms of drug trafficking and continue their killing spree. Martinez said that if California ever legalizes marijuana for recreational use, Mexico should follow suit and legalize the drug. The state's voters defeated the Proposition 19 marijuana legalization initiative last year, but a similar measure is expected to be on the ballot in 2012.

"The marijuana symposium was an excellent example of a meaningful and timely topic, combined with a superb mix of distinguished invited guests and McGeorge faculty - and even our distinguished alum, Judge Alm," Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said. "My enthusiastic thanks to everyone involved, but particularly Mike Vitiello whose scholarship provided the inspiration for the day."