Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States and around the world. The approach to marijuana enshrined in U.S. law and in the UN drug control regime—complete prohibition of production, sale, and use—is facing unprecedented challenges. Last year Gallup found that half of Americans supported the idea of making marijuana legal, up from 34 percent in 2001. This November, voters in the states of Colorado, Oregon, and Washington will consider ballot measures that would legalize marijuana. Meanwhile, the Uruguayan government has introduced legislation that would legalize and regulate the marijuana market in that country.
On October 3, in collaboration with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Governance Studies at Brookings hosted a forum examining the renewed debate over marijuana policy in the United States and abroad. A panel of experts, including the authors of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2012), considered the potential consequences of a shift to legal marijuana, including the variety of regulatory control options, possible federal responses to state-level policy changes, the interplay between U.S. marijuana policy and Mexican drug trafficking and violence, and the significance of marijuana legalization initiatives for the international drug control regime.