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Marijuana Legalization


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Introduction PART I: MARIJUANA AND PROHIBITION 1. What is marijuana? What does "marijuana" mean? What is marijuana legalization? How does it feel to get high? What are the active ingredients in marijuana? What are the varieties of marijuana plants? What are the varieties of marijuana products? What is industrial hemp? What are the alternatives to smoking? Has marijuana been getting more potent? Is higher potency bad? How long does intoxication last? How long after use can marijuana be detected? Is medical marijuana the same as illegal marijuana? What is synthetic marijuana (Spice or K2)? Additional Reading 2. Who uses marijuana? How many people use marijuana? How has marijuana use changed over time? How have marijuana policies changed in the past half-century? How much marijuana do users consume? Can marijuana use lead to dependence or addiction? How common is marijuana use in the United States? What are typical patterns of marijuana use? To what extent do heavy users dominate consumption? Has heavy use become more common? How much do users spend on marijuana? Additional Reading 3. What are the risks of using marijuana? Why is it difficult to measure the consequences of marijuana use? How do researchers study the consequences of marijuana use? What is the likelihood of becoming dependent on marijuana? How bad is marijuana dependency compared to dependency on other drugs? How many users seek treatment for problems with marijuana? Does marijuana treatment work? Can users experience a fatal overdose from marijuana? Can users experience a nonfatal overdose from using too much marijuana? Does marijuana use cause emphysema and other respiratory problems? Does marijuana use cause cancer? How much harm does secondhand marijuana smoke cause? Is marijuana a "gateway drug"? Does using marijuana affect brain development? Does using marijuana lead to cognitive impairment and a reduction in IQ? Does marijuana use affect education and employment? Does using marijuana cause schizophrenia and other mental health problems? Does using marijuana influence crime and delinquency? Does marijuana use cause automobile crashes? Does mothers' prenatal marijuana use affect their babies' health? Should mothers who use marijuana breast-feed their babies? How does parental marijuana use influence child welfare? Is marijuana really safer than alcohol? Additional Reading 4. What is known about the nonmedical benefits of using marijuana? Why don't we know more about the benefits of marijuana use? Would there be more high-quality research if marijuana were legal nationally? Is there a "stoned" way of thinking? Is "stoned thinking" valuable? Does marijuana use enhance creativity? Can marijuana use enhance athletic performance? What role does cannabis play in worship? So there's no real evidence of any benefits? Why should mere pleasure count as a benefit? Additional Reading 5. What are the medical benefits of marijuana? Is marijuana medicine? But isn't smoking unhealthy? What did the 1999 Institute of Medicine report (really) say? What is the state of medical marijuana literature today? Does marijuana have legally recognized medical value in the United States? Why isn't marijuana available as a regular prescription drug in the United States? What is happening with medical marijuana outside the United States? If there are pharmaceutical cannabinoids, is there any reason to use plant material? Additional Reading 6. How stringent is marijuana enforcement in the United States? Does it make sense for marijuana to be a Schedule I substance? Who gets arrested for marijuana possession? What happens after those possession arrests? How harshly are marijuana producers and traffickers punished? How many people are in prison for marijuana offenses? Additional Reading PART II: NATIONAL LEGALIZATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES 7. What are the pros and cons of legalization generally? What does it mean to legalize a drug? What is the essential tradeoff between legalization and prohibition? Are there shades of legalization? Why have drug laws in the first place? Why even consider legalizing a substance whose use creates harm? Wouldn't the results of a policy that treated marijuana like alcohol be an improvement over the current mess? But wasn't alcohol prohibition in the United States a complete failure? How much of the increase in consumption after legalization would reflect increased heavy use rather than increased casual use? Can't the effects of marketing be reined in by regulations and taxes? What about legal availability without free trade? Couldn't that work? Isn't it impossible to make someone better off by coercing behavioral change? If people choose to harm themselves with drugs, why is that anyone else's business? But isn't everyone with an addictive personality already addicted to something? If the results of legalization are uncertain, why not just try it out, and go back to the current system if legalization doesn't work? Additional Reading 8. How is legalization of marijuana different from legalization of other drugs? How does legalizing marijuana compare to legalizing all drugs? Isn't marijuana safer than other drugs? If marijuana accounts for half of all drug arrests, would legalizing marijuana free up half our prison cells? How much drug-related crime, violence, and corruption would marijuana legalization eliminate? Would legalization increase marijuana use and dependence by as much as legalization of crack and other drugs would increase their markets? Would more marijuana use lead to more alcohol abuse, or less? Would marijuana use lead to more or less abuse of other substances? If alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, what's the logical justification for one being legal and the other illegal? Could it be reasonable to support legalizing marijuana while keeping some other drugs illegal? Can two reasonable people sensibly disagree about marijuana legalization? Additional Reading 9. What if we treated marijuana like alcohol? What special regulations could apply to legal marijuana? Could advertising be restricted in the United States? How could marijuana be taxed? Would regulations and taxes in practice approach the public health ideal? How much enforcement would regulation and taxation require? Would there be any marijuana-related arrests after legalization? Why is there still uncertainty about what prices would be after national legalization? How much would marijuana cost to produce after national legalization? How many people would be employed in marijuana growing? What would the pretax retail price be for unbranded marijuana? What would the after-tax retail price be for unbranded marijuana? What would the retail price be for branded and other forms of marijuana? Would some businesses give legal marijuana away free? How much would consumption increase? Would legalization reduce drug violence in Mexico? Does legalization pass the benefit-cost test? Additional Reading 10. How would alcohol-style legalization affect me personally? How would legalization affect me if I'm a typical regular adult user? How would legalization affect me if I'm already dependent on marijuana? How would legalization affect me I'm an occasional marijuana user? How would legalization affect me if I'm not currently a marijuana user? How would legalization affect me if I'm a medical marijuana patient? How would legalization affect me if I'm a marijuana grower? How would legalization affect me if I lead a Mexican drug trafficking organization (DTO)? How would legalization affect me if I'm a taxpayer? How would legalization affect me if I'm an employer? How would legalization affect me if I'm a parent of a teenager? 11. Between marijuana prohibition and commercial legalization: is there any middle ground? Is there a middle ground between commercial legalization and prohibition? What has been learned from decriminalization? What about legalizing marijuana the way Portugal did (not)? What about imitating the Dutch approach? What about just allowing home production? What about user co-ops and collectives? What about a very liberal medical marijuana system? Couldn't users go to physicians for nonmedical marijuana? What if the government had a monopoly on the industry, or on retail sales specifically? What if the market were limited to non-profits,

About the Author

Jonathan P. Caulkins is H. Guyford Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College of Public Policy and Information Systems Management. He specializes in systems analysis of problems pertaining to drugs, crime, terror, violence, and prevention - work that won the David Kershaw Award from the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, a Robert Wood Johnson Health Investigator Award, and the INFORMS President's Award. Beau Kilmer is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where he codirects the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. His research has appeared in leading journals and his commentaries about marijuana have been published by CNN, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other outlets. Mark A.R. Kleiman is a Professor of Public Policy and the Director of the Crime Reduction and Justice Initiative at New York University's Marron Institute of Urban Management. He is a member of the Committee on Law and Justice of the National Research Council, and is a frequent guest expert in the media. He is the author of five books on drug and criminal justice policy.


"Marijuana Legalization is a model for how to discuss difficult and divisive issues. Both sides of the drug debate will come away wiser from having read this book." --Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Outliers, and Blink "An amazingly thoughtful and informative book that covers every aspect of marijuana and its legalization. This should be required reading for anyone thinking about these issues." --Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics "Basically, it's the book you need to read if you're serious about marijuana legalization and how to do it right."-- Paul Glastris, editor in chief of The Washington Monthly One of "The 10 Best Books on Pot." --Daily Beast One of "The Best Books about the American Drug War." --Huffington Post "Parents, educators, law enforcement and politicians - everyone, really - should read Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Assembled by the best policy analysts of our time, yet readable at the 6th grade level." --David Downs, co-author of Beyond Buds "This is an admirably thorough, well-balanced, fair, and sensible assessment of this particular issue within the larger context of federal drug policy. The authors are specialists in the field, and seem determined to explain the problem rather than offer dogmatic solutions." --The Weekly Standard "Absolute best book there is for neutral information on marijuana and legalization no matter what side you are on." --Tony Dokoupil, MSNBC "In this nonpartisan book (the authors themselves, all public-policy academics, don't even personally hold the same viewpoints), readers will learn about the risks and benefits of marijuana legalization. The work outlines marijuana basics in a Q&A format-such as 'Has marijuana been getting more potent?' and 'Is marijuana really the nation's leading cash crop?'-and considers legal and personal ramifications, from distribution to taxation to addiction. A valuable primer for anyone interested in the current debate about the war on drugs." --Booklist "Here is a book by four leading experts who collaborate in answering questions about marijuana and its possible legalization. Everything you might want to ask, answered crisply and accurately! And the four authors give, at the end, their separate recommendations: they differ, but they've agreed on 149 answers. A remarkable collaboration, and a pioneering format worth emulating." --Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences "I'm going to start out by saying if you have any interest whatsoever in the drug legalization debate, then run - don't walk - to your local or online bookstore and get this book. . . [Y]ou, as the average American, can learn a LOT about marijuana use, distribution, enforcement, decriminalization at the state level, and the legalization debate by reading this book. I'll warn you; it may cause your values to shift from 'in favor' or 'against' into a happy level of indecisiveness, which always fosters a more civil level of debate." --Sylvia Longmire, author of Cartel and Border Insecurity "Essential reading for all who seek rational marijuana policies." --Eric Schlosser, author of Reefer Madness

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