Could Legalizing Marijuana Curb Mexican Drug Violence?

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Beau Kilmer and Richard Lee debate the potential effects marijuana legalization in California could have on Mexican drug cartels. Kilmer cites that California only accounts for a small percentage of the cartels’ revenue, while Lee counters that legalization in California could lead to legalization nationwide.


Will California become the first state to legalize the production and sale of marijuana? November ballot measure Proposition 19 would allow local governments to choose whether and how to regulate and tax marijuana. Some are concerned about legalization’s effect on consumption and public health, while others tout the potential boon to city and state coffers. Besides the jaw-dropping estimated retail price decrease from $400 to $38 per ounce, nothing is really certain about the potential impact of Prop 19. Get informed before the vote — don’t miss advocates of both sides arguing the pros and cons of pushing pot through the legal pipeline. – Commonwealth Club of California

Beau Kilmer is codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. His primary fields of interest are illicit markets, community corrections, drug treatment, and the future of drug testing. Kilmer’s recent work focused on measuring the size of the global drug market for the European Commission and developing indicators to measure the impact of drug enforcement in Europe. His current work focuses on identifying the community-level effects of drug treatment and assessing the cost-effectiveness of an innovative after-school program targeted at reducing substance use among middle school youth. He is an assistant editor for Addiction and the coeditor of the new Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, and his recent work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Foreign Policy. Before earning his Ph.D. from Harvard University, Kilmer received a Judicial Administration Fellowship that supported his work with the San Francisco Drug Court.

Richard Lee has been working to end cannabis prohibition for 17 years. In 1992 he co-founded Legal Marijuana – The Hemp Store in Houston, Texas, one of the first hemp products retail outlets in the United States. Lee moved to Oakland in 1997 and co-founded the Hemp Research Company, supplying cannabis to the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Club and researching efficient and environmentally friendly cannabis horticulture. In 1999, he opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, the second cannabis outlet in “Oaksterdam”. In 2003 Lee founded the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, the PAC that passed Oakland’s Measure Z making private sales, cultivation, and possession of cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority and mandating that Oakland tax and regulate cannabis as soon as possible under state law.



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