Australian Institute of Criminology

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Marijuana legalisation in the United States: An Australian perspective

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 535

Peter Homel and Rick Brown
ISSN 1836-2206
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June 2017

Abstract | More than 20 US states have legalised the medicinal use of marijuana; in the past three years, four have also legalised its recreational use. At the same time, marijuana remains illegal under US federal law.

This paper reviews the US experience to identify any potential lessons or hazards likely to emerge. It outlines the regulatory requirements of different US states for managing medicinal and recreational marijuana use, and the costs and benefits of these measures. It also critically analyses the most common commercial for-profit production and distribution model and examines the implications of this approach in terms of individual, social and criminological outcomes.