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Is Legalizing Marijuana a Mistake?

Open to Debate
Open to Debate
According to an October 2022 Pew survey, “88% of US adults say that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use.” While marijuana legalization is gaining more and more cultural acceptance, effectively regulating drugs has long flummoxed policy and lawmakers. Some are even starting to have second thoughts, especially when it comes to how to practically enforce legal sales. In fact, voters in Oklahoma – one of the nation’s leading weed markets –overwhelmingly rejected recreational legalization earlier this year, even though voters backed medical marijuana legalization by a double-digit margin in 2018. Those who argue “Yes” for marijuana legalization say legalization creates more problems for our legal system because it requires extra enforcement to crack down on already robust illegal markets to make way for new, regulated, and legal markets. Additionally, competition from illegal weed markets is undercutting legal sales, which means the expected revenue stream from a legalized industry is far lower than expected. Those who argue “No” say legalization can reduce the burden on law enforcement and criminal justice systems, allowing resources to be redirected to more pressing issues. They also highlight marijuana’s medical benefits, such as for pain management and treatment of certain health conditions, which have made a difference in people’s lives. 
 
With this context, it’s time to debate — and reconsider — “Is Legalizing Marijuana A Mistake?” 

Arguing Yes: Paul J. Larkin, Jr, Senior Legal Research Fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation and Teresa Haley, senior policy advisor at the Foundation for Drug Policy Solution   
Arguing No: Toi Hutchinson, CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project; former member of the Illinois Senate, and Cat Packer, Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation at Drug Policy Alliance  
Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates
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