Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Highlighting the "knowledge gap" as marijuana reform moves forward at a speedy pace

Via email, I received news of this effective new "Policy Brief" released recently produced by folks at Carnevale Associates LLC.  The title of this short document is "Policy Debate Must Adjust to Changes in State Law and Public Opinion," and I especially appreciated its final section under the heading "Closing the Knowledge Gap." Here are excerpts from that section of this helpful document: 

Legalizing recreational marijuana is a far-reaching policy change. There is little research available on its potential effects on usage rates or public health and safety. This section highlights what government—state and federal— should do to close the knowledge gap.

The first priority is for data collection, performance monitoring, and analysis. States' regulatory structures should incorporate a feedback mechanism to track key performance metrics and conduct descriptive analyses of the operations of the market and its regulatory oversight system.

The second priority is for a sophisticated research agenda to explore the impact of legalization, including a focus on intended and unintended results of policy. The legal marijuana industry is new and a broad understanding of its functional dynamics are mostly unknown.

Research can provide state policy and program managers the answer to a number of questions, such as:

  • What model regulations should states adopt?...

  • How does marijuana use relate to other drug use—e.g., is it a substitute or complement to alcohol use? Opioid use?...

  • What is the environmental impact of legalization?

  • How do we test for marijuana use and what constitutes impairment?

  • How does marijuana use affect driving, workplace performance, and academic achievement?

  • How do new marijuana delivery systems (e.g., vaping) affect health and do they have other damaging consequences? What are the health effects of second hand smoke?

  • What is the impact of legalized marijuana on illegal markets? What is the impact on grey markets, where legal home grows of marijuana leak or are diverted into illegal markets?

  • What is the impact of the new marijuana industry on states’ gross domestic products?

  • How does the legalization of marijuana affect the social cost of illicit drug use?

History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink


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