Loading

RAND

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 15, 2016

    whha-souzaAlcohol is typically the first substance consumed by individuals who report polydrug use later in life, according to data published this month in The Journal of School Health.

    Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Florida, Gainesville evaluated drug use patterns from a nationally representative sample of 2,835 12th graders.

    Authors found that youth use of alcohol most often preceded the use of tobacco or marijuana. They also reported subjects’ age of alcohol initiation is the strongest predictor of later polydrug use.

    “Alcohol is the most commonly used substance, and the majority of polysubstance using respondents consumed alcohol prior to tobacco or marijuana initiation,” they reported. “Respondents initiating alcohol use in sixth grade reported significantly greater lifetime illicit substance use and more frequent illicit substance use than those initiating alcohol use in ninth grade or later.”

    They concluded, “Our results … assert that the earlier one initiates alcohol use, the more likely that they will engage in future illicit substance use.”

    The findings are inconsistent with recent claims made by several prominent lawmakers that cannabis is a ‘gateway’ to later substance abuse.

    Studies conducted by the RAND Corporation and others have previously dismissed any alleged causal role of marijuana as a gateway to subsequent illicit drug abuse, finding, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other drugs.”

    An abstract of the study, “Prioritizing Alcohol Prevention: Establishing Alcohol as the Gateway Drug and Linking Age of First Drink With Illicit Drug Use,” appears online here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 7, 2015

    A new report by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) adds considerable information to the base knowledge accumulating at the state level on new changes in laws and custom regarding cannabis legalization circa 2013, starting in the states of Colorado and Washington after citizens voted to end cannabis prohibition via binding ballot initiatives.sheet-of-money-hemp

    The ITEP report joins other mainstream reviews and analysis of changes in cannabis laws from The Brookings Institution, RAND Corporation and Drug Policy Alliance.

    ITEP’s principle donors are found here.

     

     

     

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director July 27, 2012

    This Week in Weed

    Click here to subscribe to NORMLtv and receive alerts whenever new content is added.

    The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

    This week: Oregon will vote on legalization, a new study on cannabis use and MS, and the LA City Council moves to ban medical marijuana dispensaries citywide.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2b66h5GgD8[/youtube]

    Also, check out RAND Corporations presentation entitled “Should Marijuana Be Legalized?” which was presented on Capitol Hill this month. While NORML disagrees on many of the points made, RAND’s views make for a very interesting discussion.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frj-CfqDUe0[/youtube]
    Continued in Part 2 and Part 3

    Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv every week to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to be notified as soon as new content is added.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 12, 2010

    A report released today by the RAND Drug Policy Research Center undercuts the longstanding federal government claim that Mexican drug gangs are reaping the bulk of their profits from the exportation of marijuana to the United States.

    States RAND, “The claim that 60 percent of Mexican drug trafficking organizations gross drug export revenues comes from marijuana is not credible.”

    And just who was the source of this ‘not credible’ statistic? In this case, full credit must go to the nation’s top anti-drug office, the Office of National Drug Control Policy — aka the Drug Czar’s office.

    Marijuana big earner for Mexico gangs
    via The Associated Press

    Posted 2/21/2008 8:55 PM |

    MEXICO CITY — Marijuana is now the biggest source of income for Mexico’s drug cartels and the U.S. is committed to cracking down harder on traffickers, U.S. drug czar John Walters said Thursday.

    “We’re trying to increase the force with which we’re attacking this problem,” Walters said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “This is a focus because of the overlooked importance marijuana has in the violence.”

    Walters made the comments following a meeting with Mexican officials who want the U.S. to prosecute marijuana cases more zealously to reduce the amount of cash gangs can spend on guns.

    … Walters said the U.S. government is seeking additional resources to prosecute traffickers of marijuana, which now earns cartels about $8.5 billion or about 61 percent of their annual estimated income of $13.8 billion. Cocaine sales earn the cartels about $3.9 billion, and methamphetamine about $1 billion, he said.

    Today RAND retorts, “Mexican DTOs’ annual gross revenues from illegally exporting marijuana and selling it to wholesalers in the United States are likely less than $2 billion.”

    So who should we believe? On the one hand we have the federal government, which consistently lies about marijuana to further their own agenda. On the other hand, we have RAND, which also isn’t above making its own specious claims to further their own agenda — which in this case seems to be opposing California’s Prop. 19.

    Ultimately, however, the dueling statistics don’t really matter. Regardless of whether Mexican cartels are reaping 60 percent of their profits from pot or 16 percent, the fundamental principle remains the same: the criminal prohibition of marijuana fuels an underground, unregulated, black market economy that empowers criminal entrepreneurs and jeopardizes the public’s — and the marijuana consumer’s — safety.

    If you want to bring control of this market over to regulators, lawmakers, and licensed business, then you support legalization. If you wish to continue to abdicate control of this market to criminal gangs and drug traffickers, then you support prohibition.

    The choice is up to you.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 30, 2010

    Last week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous drug czars) condemning California’s Prop. 19.

    Today the Los Angeles Times has posted my full rebuttal, which I’ve excerpted below.

    Some marijuana tax revenue is better than none
    via The Los Angeles Times

    … Kerlikowske’s opposition to Proposition 19 … is a fairly common one. Kerlikowske et al argue that, if legalized, marijuana’s perceived social costs would outweigh the economic benefits reaped by regulation. They base this allegation largely on the premise that present taxes on alcohol and cigarettes fail to adequately pay for the societal costs associated with those drugs’ use and abuse. True enough, but here’s why this sound bite is irrelevant to the present marijuana debate.

    Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

    Alcohol is toxic to healthy cells and organs, a side effect that results directly in about 35,000 deaths a year. … By contrast, the active compounds in marijuana … are remarkably non-toxic. Unlike alcohol, marijuana is incapable of causing a fatal overdose, and its use is inversely associated with aggression and injury. In fact, the recently released Rand Corp. report found that in 2008, there were fewer than 200 “admissions to hospitals in which marijuana abuse or dependence was listed as the primary reason for the hospitalization.” By comparison, there are more than 70,000 hospitalizations in California annually related to the use of alcohol.

    Marijuana is far safer than tobacco.

    According to a 2009 report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers. It states: “In terms of (health-related) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.”

    Some tax revenue is better than no tax revenue.

    According to a 2007 George Mason University study, U.S. citizens each year spend about $113 billion on marijuana. Under prohibition, all of this spending is directed toward an underground economy and goes untaxed. That means state and local governments are presently collecting zero dollars to offset societal and health costs related to recreational marijuana use. Therefore, the imposition of any retail tax or excise fee would be an improvement over the current situation.

    In short, the drug czars’ assessment that present taxes on alcohol and tobacco — two deadly products — do not raise sufficient funding to offset their related social costs is not an argument in favor of maintaining the status quo, particularly when one recognizes that the social and health costs related to cannabis use are far less than those associated with the use of other intoxicants.

    You can read my full commentary here. (You can also comment on it here.)