Faculty Publications - The Future of Marijuana

March 17, 2014

In The Future of Marijuana in the United StatesProfessor Steven B. Duke makes a compelling argument to legalize marijuana. He notes that twenty states have already legalized marijuana in varying degrees, and compares today’s accepting attitude towards marijuana with the views of Americans in the mid-1970’s. Duke warns, however, that public opinion could shift in the opposite direction, and penalties and persecution rates could rise dramatically just as they did following a severe backlash in the early 1980’s. Duke argues that marijuana is less harmful than many legal drugs, and that regulation can only be possible once the drug is legalized. Duke cites many other arguments against the criminalization of marijuana, such as how prohibition breeds crime and racism, and distracts police away from more serious crime. Duke concludes that international anti-drug treaties should be amended to allow federal legalization, and that the United States federal government should decriminalize marijuana in order to legalize it. 

Further Reading:

Steven B. Duke, Mass Imprisonment, Crime Rates, and the Drug War: A Penological and Humanitarian Disgrace, 9 CONN. PUB. INT. L.J. 17 (2009).

Ryan S. King and Marc Mauer, The War on Marijuana: The Transformation of the War on Drugs in the 1990s, HARM REDUCTION J., Feb. 9, 2006.

Professor Duke’s papers in Yale Law School’s Legal Scholarship Repository, and working papers on SSRN.

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