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Cannabis Law Research: Home

A guide to researching the budding field of cannabis law.


While cannabis (marijuana) remains a Schedule I drug under United States federal law, state law on cannabis is rapidly changing. Explore these resources to research U.S. cannabis law and policy.

Along with research guides for federal and state cannabis laws, this guide contains pages dedicated to the laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Search Tips

  • Make sure to consider the synonyms cannabis, marijuana, and even the alternate spelling marihuana when searching.
    • For more on the usage of these terms in research, see George M. Eberhart's article "The Search for Cannabis."
    • For a deep dive into the etymology of the term 'marijuana,' see Matt Thompson's article "The Mysterious History Of 'Marijuana'" in NPR's Code Switch series. Some argue that the term 'marijuana' has racist connotations. This research guide generally uses the the scientific term 'cannabis' unless referring to a law that uses the term 'marijuana.'
    • Note that these terms may have different legal meanings in different jurisdictions. For example, New Jersey law refers to 'cannabis' as a regulated product and 'marijuana' as unregulated (black market) cannabis.
  • Use adult use in addition to recreational to search for information on the legalization of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes.
  • When searching for medical marijuana laws, consider the using the terms medical, medicinal, and compassionate. For example, the search string (medical OR medicinal OR compassionate) /5 (cannabis OR marijuana OR marihuana) will return results containing the any of the words 'medical,' 'medicinal,' or 'compassionate' within five words of any of the words 'cannabis,' 'marijuana,' or 'marihuana.' 
  • Cannabis contains substances known as cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Some laws may regulate these cannabinoids differently, so you may want to incorporate these terms into your searches.


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Jessa Feiler
Drexel Kline Law School
LRC, Room 310
(left before the circulation desk)