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School of Public Policy Professor Angela Hawken Coauthors Book on U.S. Drug Policy
Angela Hawken, associate professor of economics and policy analysis at the School of Public Policy, has coauthored a new book, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, with Jonathan P. Caulkins, Beau Kilmer, and Mark A. R. Kleiman.
The four experts on drug policy offer a nonpartisan assessment of the current and future prospects of marijuana legalization, concluding with separate recommendations and individual views on what course of policy the United States should follow.
Despite differing beliefs and opinions, the scholars forge a consensus on a broad set of issues related to marijuana legalization. The combination of impeccable research, lively writing, and a highly readable question-and-answer format delivers on the title's promise: "what everyone needs to know."
Key findings include:
- Decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Legalization makes the production, sale, and possession of marijuana legal, subject to whatever regulations are imposed. In spite of common misunderstandings about the Netherlands and Portugal, no country has ever legalized marijuana.
- Because there is no example of marijuana legalization, it is hard to predict what will happen if marijuana is legalized. It is especially hard to predict the likely increase in marijuana use under various legalization schemes.
- Among the most important unknowns is how legalization will affect alcohol assumption. A movement (in either direction) would dwarf most other considerations of harms and benefits.
- The commonly held notion that marijuana is the top U.S. cash crop is unfounded, and predicted tax-revenue estimates from marijuana legalization are inflated.
- Marijuana legalization will not solve the problem of drug violence in Mexico. Marijuana accounts for only 20 percent of the revenues of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.
- There are nonmedical benefits of marijuana use, which must be taken into account when considering legalization.
Angela Hawken is associate professor of economics and policy analysis at the School of Public Policy. Her research interests are primarily in drugs, crime, and corruption.