Monday, January 26, 2015
As highlighted in this prior post, earlier this month the RAND Drug Policy Research Center released this big policy/research report on marijuana reform titled "Considering Marijuana Legalization: Insights for Vermont and Other Jurisdictions." This report was produced in response to specific Vermont legislation and expressly "aims to inform the debate in Vermont." Nevertheless, the report's summary ends by asserting that the report's "general themes should be useful to any jurisdiction considering alternatives to marijuana prohibition."
I am certain policy-makers and advocates for and against reform will find this RAND report "useful" in various ways, and I have already required students in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar to review the RAND report with an eye on how its analysis might impact consideration of various marijuana reform proposals emerging in Ohio. But I continue to wonder if (and worry that) there is ultimately a strong disaffinity among most marijuana advocates to seriously engage with the kind of "wonkish" cost/benefit analysis that the RAND report represents.
I sense that supporters of marijuana reform are often eager to deny that there are any significant costs likely to result from reform, and likewise that opponents of marijuana reform are often eager to deny that there are any significant benefits likely to result from reform. Consequently, I suspect (and fear) that the most ardent participants in policy debates on both sides may not want something like the RAND report at the center of reform discussions because it presents a more nuanced account of costs and benefits than advocates may want to acknowledge.