On the Russ Belville show

Trying to persuade a pot advocate that a price collapse would have costs as well as benefits.

In which I try to persuade the chief talker of the virtual channel that bills itself as “The Independent Voice of the Marijuana Nation” that very cheap wouldn’t actually be A Good Thing. A remarkably friendly conversation. Note that they managed to find a photo in which I look remarkably stoned.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “On the Russ Belville show”

  1. You look like an enlightened new-aged guru swathed in scarlet robes. Or like someone hanging around his house in a Snuggie.

  2. The evidence that cannabis is an economic substitute for alcohol and other drugs is more robust than Dr. Kleiman seems willing to concede. Even if the substitution effect is quite modest, the net result of increased cannabis usage rates would still be lower “drug-related” public health and social costs.

    While it may be true that chronic consumers are deterred from consuming as much as they might like by prohibition-inflated prices, the usual solution is to become self-sufficient or to join the black market, buying more than one consumes wholesale and selling the surplus at the retail level to pay for what one

    We know from our experience with tobacco that legalization does not inevitably lead to increased usage rates, or increased heavy, chronic use.

    On the other hand, prohibition impedes education, prevention, treatment and harm reduction. What really
    prevents use from becoming abuse are social customs and mores, whose evolution is also impeded by criminal prohibition. For example, I can teach my children how to drink responsibly but I can not teach them how to consume cannabis responsibly for fear of losing custody. Zero tolerance prevents us from saying, “Kids, we would rather you not use drugs, but if you do, use cannabis.” Or, “We would rather you not use cannabis, but if you do, use in moderation, use a vaporizer or consume edibles, don’t hold the smoke in, etc.”

    Cannabis prohibition creates a deviant sub-culture outside of the mainstream, and consequently detached from mainstream customs and mores.

    Obviously cannabis prohibition also impedes quality control, package labeling, etc.

    Regarding cannabis-related accidents, no one knows how many accidents are prevented by cannabis due to “couch lock” or “amotivational syndrome.” For example, we do not know how many consumers who, intending to go out for dinner, elected to order in after having consumed. I suspect that, on balance, cannabis prevents more accidents than it causes by virtue of the substitution effect and by making people less active and aggressive.

    Regarding cannabis being the most “legalizable” illicit drug due to it being the least harmful to health, what about heroin maintenance programs? Are they not the deliberate legal regulation of heroin precisely because using heroin is risky?

    The more harmful the substance, the less it makes sense to abdicate control of it to teenagers and criminals who sell drugs of unknown origin, potency and purity to anyone of any age, anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. The more harmful the drug, the greater the imperative to legally regulate it. We have more control over cat food than cannabis.

  3. Matt Elrod is my favorite person.

    If every advocate for cannabis legalization was even 1% as calm/reasoned/eloquent as Mr. Elrod, we would have won this fight long ago.

  4. Maybe they just looked for a photo in which you looked in a relatively normal state of mind (modulo the channel’s audience).

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