Legal challenges for the
School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications,
University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK
Purpose –The purpose of this paper to examine laws andregulations applicable to cannabis in the USA
and the UK, includinglegal reforms and international treaty obligations.
Design/methodology/approach –This study relies on primary data from statutesand secondary data
from onlineand ofﬂine resources, including relevant case studies.
Findings –Federal laws in the USA and existingUK cannabis legal regime generally prohibit recreational
use of cannabis. Increasingly,various individual states in the USA have enabled the use ofcannabis health-
related uses, thereby challengingthe status of the UN treaties on drug enforcement. As the USA struggles to
reconcile the conﬂicts betweenfederal law on cannabis and individual states within its borders, muchof the
rest of the world, including the UK, are struggling with how bestto reconcile their domestic positions with
their UN treaty obligations.
Social implications –Recent disclosures of past recreational use of prohibited drugs by several
candidates vying to be the UK Prime Minister suggests why understanding the laws governing the use of
cannabisis usefuland relevant to the general public.
Originality/value –This paper providesa general but integrated review of national laws inthe USA and
the UK, as well as internationaltreaties governing the use of cannabis.
Keywords Anti money laundering, Cannabis, Drug policy, Environmental law, Hemp, Legal risk,
Marijuana, Business risk
Paper type General review
The European cannabis market is forecastedto grow to e123bn by 2028, i.e. more than two
times Apple’s 2018 revenue and larger than Ukraine’s gross domestic product (GDP);
however, the world might potentially witness the birth of an industry worth US$500bn to
US$1tn (Davies, 2019). In the USA, Americans spent some US$6.7bn on legal cannabis
products in 2016 (Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, 2017). The UK cannabis
market is estimated at 255 tons or around£2.6bn across some three million consumers and
growing (Snowdon, 2018). The industry worth of cannabis and the inevitable controversies
surrounding it merit morepublic and regulatory attention (Caulkins et al.,2015).
2. Cannabis key features
Generally, the applications of cannabis in business and industries draw relatively lesser
attention than its deployment in medicine and recreation. There have been considerable
debates and controversies over the employment of cannabis in the latter two domains.
Cannabis, when used in the health industry, generated various controversial issues. It has
been claimed as a wonder drug that can treat various health problems such as asthma,
autism, insomnia, Parkinson’s and even cancer; however, equally for some time, cannabis
has been viewed as harmful to health (Paulo and Woo, 2019). For a long while, cannabis
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.23 No. 2, 2020
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