Legal Marijuana? New Domestic and International Initiatives Challenge the Status Quo
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.
Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy - Carnegie Mellon University
Professor of Public Policy - Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles
Professor, Juridical Studies - Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)
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The Duque government’s drug policy in Colombia is taking on a progressively ominous and counterproductive direction. It threatens to undermine the incomplete and struggling peace process, misdirect law enforcement resources, augment the alienation of coca farmers from the state and undermine human rights and drug users’ access to health services in Colombia. With their emphasis on criminalization of even drug possession for personal use and forced eradication, the announced policies clearly cater to the Trump administration’s doctrinaire and discredited drug policy preferences that harken back to the 1980s. But without sustainable livelihoods already in place, forced eradication will not sustainably reduce coca cultivation and cocaine production. The dominance of zero-coca thinking in Colombia whereby a community has to eradicate all coca first before it starts receiving even meager assistance from the state never produced positive results in Colombia.