The Magazine

First Legalization, Then Lawsuits

Can marijuana retailers survive the tort bar?

May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By JOHN P. WALTERS and TOM RILEY
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Some clever attorneys might partner directly with treatment providers for referrals. Others might advertise on billboards, buses, television, and radio. They might find that YouTube and sites on the Internet are a vast repository of self-incrimination. 

In addition, the retailers of marijuana as medicine—whether for smoking or eating in baked goods, candy, and ice cream—should be easy targets of legal action. There is scant evidence of legitimate medical efficacy and much evidence that “medical marijuana” is a calculated fraud producing large profits. Far from approving it, the FDA has written a letter denying that smoked marijuana is medicine. 

If you think trial lawyers made a windfall on tobacco, just wait until they get a handle on marijuana. The scientific and medical evidence against marijuana now dwarfs what we knew about tobacco at the time of the surgeon general’s report of 1964. No warning label in the world could shield marijuana growers and sellers from the tsunami of tort liability they should face from distributing a product with so many known harmful effects. 

Everyone loves the tale of Robin Hood because it is a story of justice—taking from oppressors and giving to the oppressed. That story is about to be reenacted with a drug-dealing-retailer near you. The rule of law is a beautiful thing; it can protect our democracy in times of danger even when national leaders and government institutions fail. 

John P. Walters, director of drug control policy for President George W. Bush, is chief operating officer of the Hudson Institute. Tom Riley, director of public affairs in the Office of National Drug Control Policy for President George W. Bush, writes on public policy in Philadelphia.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers