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UMD School of Public Policy Expert Talks Legalized Marijuana's Impact

December 11, 2012
Contacts: 

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

1st True Legalization in the World will Cause Prices to Drop, Use to Increase, Reuter says
 
MSPP logoCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – By approving referenda legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreation use and allowing the production and distribution of the drug, voters in Colorado and Washington state have changed the landscape for laws governing marijuana, says Peter Reuter, a professor at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland, and a senior economist at RAND Corporation. 
 
A leading expert on illegal markets and alternative approaches to controlling drug problems, Reuter says the new laws in Colorado and Washington are “the first true legalization of the drug anywhere in the world. “ He adds, “No matter what method each state uses to distribute the drug the price will drop sharply and use will go up.  Whether that just brings marijuana use back up to the levels of the early 1980s or to levels never before seen is impossible to forecast.”
 
More from Professor Reuter: 
 
“Colorado and Washington voters have approved a completely new set of rules for marijuana, the first true legalization of the drug anywhere in the world.  No matter what method each state uses to distribute the drug the price will drop sharply and use will go up.  Whether that just brings marijuana use back up to the levels of the early 1980s or to levels never before seen is impossible to forecast.  The states will have to struggle with control of smuggling to the rest of the country, which would drive down prices for illegal marijuana in much of the nation.  Given how aggressively the US has pushed international bodies to prevent other nations experimenting with less restrictive systems of drug control, the moves in Colorado and Washington send an important signal to Latin America in particular, where there are questions about why police should be at risk of dying in order to prevent the importation of a drug that is legal in part of the United States.”
 
Professor Reuter is available for interviews.  Please contact Jennifer Talhelm, director of strategic communication for the UMD School of Public Policy at (301) 405-4390 or jtalhelm@umd.edu.
 
Peter Reuter
Office: 301.405.6367
Cell: 240.988.6605
Bio: http://www.publicpolicy.umd.edu/peter-reuter