Dear Marijuana and Crime Researchers: Start Your Engines

(Photo: Coleen Whitfield)

Yes, it could all go up in smoke — legal challenges, including from the Federal government, and all that — but among the interesting developments from last night’s election (do yourself a favor and look at this map) is the news that Colorado and Washington voters chose to legalize marijuana. Here’s how the issue was phrased on the Colorado ballot:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana; permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp?

We have previously addressed marijuana legalization and the many economic, legal, social, medical, and criminal implications. With a potential wide-scale legalization in two substantial states, I am guessing a lot of academic researchers in the drug, legal, economics, and criminal-justice fields are revving up their engines to start figuring out what happens next.


Sure, it's logical but that doesn't mean that it will fly. If the country was ruled logically it wouldn't be recognizable any more.


the whole issue is about money. period. law enforcement does not want to lose the layers of jobs they have created. they don't care that the black market is profiting. they have created the problem. the private prisons will lose more "customers" mostly african american. to name a name - joseph kennedy got his start running rum. he built a dynasty from that and profited handsomely. look at al capone etc. big bucks were made from prohibition along with all the crime while legitimate business was shut down. know your history. this is no different, just a repeat.


What can history tell us first? Couldn't we look into what happened post-prohibition in the places which were the first to re-adopt alcohol after the 21st Amendment? Seems like it would be interesting to compare.

Though we've had Marijuana prohibition for much longer than we had alcohol prohibition, and there is still a great deal of conflict between the states and the fed, which complicates things.

Paul Thompson

Legalized or not, I have a very tough time looking at marijuana as something I want my kids to be a user of. I look at the people I have known growing up, and see a very evident separation of economic standing between the daily users, and those that never used. On the other hand, I also don't want my kids to become alcoholics, but I don't want to get rid of my glass of wine at dinner.

Legal Marijuana

There definitely will be a need for research. In terms of Medical Marijuana I'm truly excited. I think that we will in the next few years see specialized cannabis based treatment centers for; cancer, MS, autism, chronic pain etc. Now with Marijuana legalized in these states, we can expect those researchers to go wild =)


If you legalize first, you get a bunch of drug tourism. Expect borders of the states to sprout stores, similar to what happens in a county/state that allow fireworks when it is forbidden in neighboring states. It's the Same pattern for lower tobacco taxes, alcohol sales (next to dry counties), and lotteries. I live in the Netherlands, This is a good model for seeing what WA and CO can expect.


That would be predictable. It would have been a good idea to write in a surcharge for out of state ID's as well, extra 1-2% for touriststs!

Eric M. Jones.

It's clearly a gateway drug to nicotine and alcohol....the real killers.


Unfortunately, this will not likely get very far for research purposes if the Obama administration continues to crack down on marijuana the way they have in California.

The hypocrisy of laws that tell us is it OK to drink alcohol but not smoke weed is the equivalent of the government telling us the preferred method to get high. Make sure when you get high, you get high the American way.

And the silly argument of gateway drug. Find one person who does crack and doesn’t drink alcohol.

Will we ever learn when it comes to using the force of government to enact our preferences on society?

Tyrone Biggums

"Find one person who does crack and doesn’t drink alcohol."

i like to smoke rocks. if i have $10, i can either get a rock or a 6-pack. rock beats, well, pretty much everything!


It's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out on many levels.

It may make it easier to improve the quality of research around other uses, even reducing the stigma associated with the harmless hemp products.

It will also be interesting to be able to track the market and trade of this more accurately. If the price drops will there be less incentive for the involvement of other criminal elements?

I'm curious to see how this will affect the growing of the product. Hopefully the changes will enable more natural growing practices, reducing the dangerous potential for reactions to the un-naturally high levels of psychoactives that occur in the intensive industrialised indoor growing.

It could be a good strategy for harm minimisation, however, I'm more supportive of decriminalisation because the idea of tobacco companies monopolising the packaging and sale of marijuana scares the hell out me.

Interesting times.



I'd send those academics to Uruguay, actually, if they wanted to study something that hasn't been tried before:


There are likely economists more excited about this than anyone at CU-Boulder

angela smith

It's hard to feel safe nowadays, crime could happen anywhere in the world. We don't know what type of danger that awaits us outside. That's why taking extra precaution is a must. It's just sad to say that mostly this things happen because of some addicting elements we have that are being abused by some people. I'm glad I got this panic button app from my friend and it really fits my personal safety measures. I could press a panic button and I would directly be connected with my family or friends as safety networks and a 24/7 call center agents who could escalate my call to the nearest 911 in my place. They could also locate me through GPS location so it's a lot easier to send help if I needed it.


I find it interesting that the privatization and the establishment of the for profit prison system is not more widely discussed with the legalization of marijuana. There is big profits to be made in keeping marijuana illegal and following the initiation of the war on drugs incarceration greatly increased with the number one drug conviction in america being marijuana. With the legalization of THC the number of prisoners will decrease to some extent, one could speculate that this would be a significant decrease. Creating a loss in revenue and reduction in profits.

shayer saraf

i have been a marijuana user for about the last ten years , never taken a break , all day everyday .
i have always been dreaming about the day when they would legalize the plant but now thats its done , atleast in some places , i fear its for the worst , its very rear that people dosent abuse marijuana , thinking it dosent do anything , we increase our intake but the harsh reality is it does over a period of time .its easy to say that its going to have disastrous effect on the school or college going kids .all though it does have its good sides its going to save so much money for the economy and through all this recession i think america needs it , its also going to take away a lot of money away from the black market .i think making it legal is the right thing to do but with more restrictions is what i would have done .


You're a stoner? Never would have guessed.

Kenneth Howells

Though not a user myself, use of marijuana (pot) has gone beyond the point-of-no-return, like the gun. Pot can be economically advantageous, just like cigarettes, which are also a health hazard (as is alcohol). Legalizing pot will create competition that lowers the price of pot and makes it less worthwhile to deal in pot illegally. States will spend resources on chasing after marijuana makers, sellers, and users and more on other hard-time crimes. The judicial system will also become less clogged up with petty pot charges.

Use of marijuana will go through the same social steps that alcohol did. People will smoke at lunch breaks, only to get fired for not being able to perform their duties. People will smoke-and-drive and get ticketed for dangerous driving.

Personally, I have never seen people smoking pot ever get into a fist fight. I have, however, seen many situations where people drinking alcohol go at each other psychically (yes, me included).

There will be a transition period, no doubt; but smoking plants has a very long history, as does consuming alcohol. I drink beer and leave it at that, but from an economical, social safety, and social points of view, making pot legal makes sense.

As a disclaimer, smoking pot seems to pose more health risks, since the user tries to keep the smoke in the lungs for a longer period of time. Also, pot contains a lot of chemicals that human bodies are not supposed to have to suffer through.

But, sadly, in today's world, advantages vs. disadvantages have to be rationally looked at. Just like gun ownership, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption have gained the upper hand by going beyond-the-point-of-no-return, pot should follow suit. Pot appears to be non-addictive by medical definitions and does not seem to make people crazy (stupid, but not necessarily socially crazy).

Legalize pot, let capitalism take its course, and move on to more important matters.