Public Policy professor Mark Kleiman  has written a new primer on marijuana policy intended to provide straightforward information about all aspects of the real-life impacts of marijuana legalization–from the public health implications to the expected price of the drug.
Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know  (Oxford University Press) uses a Q&A format to guide readers through the history of marijuana policy and use in the U.S. and abroad, beginning with "What is marijuana?" and touching on the risks and benefits of marijuana use. The book turns from background information to examine marijuana legalization, a prospect on the ballot in Oregon, Washington and Colorado this November that would broaden availability of the drug beyond its current medicinal use.
Kleiman and his co-authors—Jonathan P. Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University; Pepperdine University's Angela Hawken; and Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center—delve into the economic and social landscape that would follow marijuana legalization. If one state were to treat marijuana like alcohol, decriminalizing the production, consumption, sale and even promotion of the drug, how would that impact prices and usage beyond that state's borders? How would widely available marijuana influence the consumption of other intoxicants? How would the federal government respond to these state-level efforts?
While the authors have different opinions about the best way forward—they each share their ideas in the book's conclusion—they agree that any steps toward legalization should be cautious and easy to undo. Legalization could have unintended and far-reaching consequences, and policies need to be put in place to address any unforeseen circumstances.
The book has helped inform an evolving national discussion on drug policy, with reviews and commentary appearing in The New York Review of Books, The Daily Beast, the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Slate and Mother Jones.
Kleiman, an expert on crime and drug policy, is also the author of When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment and Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control.