Certificate in Cannabis Law

Certificate in Cannabis Law

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The Certificate in Cannabis Law offers cutting edge, relevant knowledge of a flourishing industry. It is designed for lawyers and related professionals who seek to enhance their knowledge about expanding and evolving areas of law.

Students begin with a course that provides core foundational knowledge about cannabis law. The addresses history and evolution of cannabis law and policy, current status of the law from both the state and federal perspective, a specific overview of medical marijuana law and policy, and the ethical and the professional responsibility considerations of lawyers within this field.

Students complete their certificate with course offerings exploring cannabis law more deeply in the following areas:

  • Constitutional considerations and application to law and policy
  • Criminal justice marijuana policy and laws Legal considerations of the business of marijuana
  • Property rights and issues related to cannabis and its production and distribution

McGeorge is an approved MCLE provider in California; certificate candidates outside of California should consult the relevant state authority for continuing education credits.

Important Dates



Application Deadline



Spring Semester Start Date

Why Cannabis Law

The cannabis industry is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the country, estimated to reach $24.5 billion by 2025.[1]

What does this mean for attorneys? The opportunity to represent this industry is growing rapidly and the need for attorneys specializing in Cannabis Law is exponential.

[1] Report: America’s Marijuana Industry Headed for $24 Billion by 2025, The Cannabist (Feb. 22, 2017).

With a growing cannabis industry, a certificate is the next step in your career.


With medicinal and recreational legalization of cannabis across many states in the US, it has become critical that anyone interested in the business seek legal counsel to understand both the federal and state laws. The Certificate in Cannabis Law from McGeorge School of Law is built to educate and prepare attorneys and related professionals to guide and represent these businesses in this new industry.


  • Grow your Cannabis Law practice and become an expert in the legal issues surrounding a Cannabis business, including legal, regulatory, business, and ethical issues.
  • Become one of the early leaders in the field of Cannabis Law.
  • Become aware of numerous aspects including business-related issues, the fundamentals of cannabis lawyering, the constitutional issues that this new business poses and much more.
  • Use your knowledge to represent clients across all avenues of this growing industry.


The program is designed to be self-paced to work with your demands and schedule.

At the end of this degree program, graduates should be able to:


  • Identify and understand basic concepts in U.S. substantive law, legal theory, and procedure.
  • Apply knowledge and critical thinking skills to law and policy issues relevant to area of study and, where appropriate, apply basic tools of legal research analysis, reasoning, and problem solving.
  • Demonstrate communication skills, including effective listening, critical reading, clear writing tailored to specific audience and goals, and the ability to verbally convey legal and policy concepts relevant to area of study.
  • Demonstrate judgment, ethics, and professionalism relevant to the role of non-lawyers working within a legal framework, including avoidance of the unauthorized practice of law.

Fundamentals of Cannabis Lawyering: This course provides practicing attorneys and related professionals with an overview of cannabis and the legal framework that surrounds it. It begins with a short history of the regulation of cannabis, and then covers the evolution of medical marijuana laws and the impact of these early laws. From here the course examines the current adult-use cannabis laws in various states and how these laws are moving us towards a national approach to cannabis regulation. The course concludes with an in-depth analysis of the foundational questions confronting lawyers who are considering a cannabis practice:

  • Is it legal to advise clients about their cannabis businesses?
  • Is it ethical to do so?
  • Is it prudent to do so?


Cannabis Business Law: This course is designed for practicing lawyers and related professionals who are working with cannabis businesses. It provides comprehensive coverage of key legal issues that a lawyer should consider when working with clients in this industry―including business planning, employment, financial matters, licensing, and taxation―in light of current industry trends. The course focuses on California law and policy.


Cannabis and the Criminal Law: This course examines the criminal law issues that arise from cannabis legalization. It covers federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, including investigation, intelligence gathering, and eradication programs. It examines generally the approach taken by states around the country. It also explores sentencing and other enforcement mechanisms, such as asset forfeiture. It explores a variety of defenses and other criminal law rules, including medical necessity, reliance on the Cole Memorandum and constructive possession. This course also considers whether severe punishment for cannabis offenses violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, the course examines how the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has been shaped by aggressive enforcement tactics.


The Constitution of Cannabis Law: This course explores the main constitutional issues that litigants have raised in cases involving cannabis:

  • Does the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) exceed the federal government’s power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution when the Act is enforced against a person who grew and used marijuana for medical purposes entirely within the borders of a state that has legalized the medical use of marijuana?
  • Do the guarantees of life and liberty in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect a medical marijuana user from criminal enforcement of the CSA?
  • Does the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of one’s religion prevent the federal government from enforcing the CSA against a person who claims the right to use cannabis for religious purposes?
  • Does a business that wants to advertise cannabis products have a First Amendment right to do so?


Property Issues In Cannabis Law: This course examines the broad range of property-related issues stemming from cannabis legalization that practicing attorneys should be familiar with. The course coverage includes:

  • Zoning and other specialized forms of land use regulation that affect where and how cannabis may be cultivated, processed, and sold.
  • Environmental law and water law issues that affect cannabis businesses. Landlord-tenant issues that arise for cannabis businesses operating under commercial leases, including the drafting, performance, and enforcement of such leases.
  • Intellectual property issues that confront cannabis businesses, such as: (1) Is any form of trademark protection available for cannabis products? (2) Can patent law protect cannabis products or processes? and (3) To what extent can cannabis businesses protect trade secrets?

Additional Information

Requirements: JD desired, however not necessary

Modality: Online

Length: Approximately 3 months; self-paced (approximately 75 hours)

Minimum & Maximum Time to Completion: 6 weeks to 6 months

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