Local options: good processes, controversial outcomes?

Ilaria Di Gioia (Corresponding / Lead Author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Legalization of recreational marijuana has gained momentum in the United States. As of July 2022, 19 states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. The relatively broad support at state level, however, has not always been reflected at local level. For example, in New Jersey, about one in four municipalities have introduced or adopted ordinances barring marijuana-related businesses.
    The states have responded with the implementation of local opt-out options and the possibility, for municipalities, to impose bans on dispensaries, grow facilities and manufacturers of the substance. This response resembles post-prohibition era local alcohol regulations when the temperance movement succeeded in securing the local option in thirty out of forty-two states that had legalized alcohol by 1935. Currently, 10% of U.S. counties still maintain a ban on some or all forms of alcohol.
    The local opt options are, in theory, very virtuous processes. They avoid intra-state conflict and are an example of working federalism at state level. However, do they also produce desirable policy outcomes?
    This paper considers whether there is a correct balance between regulatory uniformity and local regulation in the context of marijuana and alcohol policy. It examines reasons in favour of localism such as local community standards and local innovation and the reasons against localism such as policy homogeneity and resource allocation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalUniversity of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy
    Publication statusAccepted/In press (AAM) - 14 Feb 2023


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