Pro­ject De­scrip­tion:

The pro­ject deals with norm­at­ive, so­cial and crim­in­o­lo­gic­al ques­tions which emerge with the leg­al­iz­a­tion of marijuana. Leg­al­iz­a­tion of marijuana trig­gers vari­ous ques­tions re­lated to in­ter­na­tion­al law in par­tic­u­lar the ques­tion of how leg­al­iz­a­tion can be ac­com­mod­ated with­in the frame­work of the Single Con­ven­tion and the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion. From this per­spect­ive not only ana­lys­is of leg­al prob­lems is im­port­ant but also the study of na­tion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al dis­courses on the fu­ture de­vel­op­ments of drug policies.

From a crim­in­o­lo­gic­al point of view, the study of the pos­sible ad­verse ef­fects of leg­al­iz­a­tion be­comes an is­sue of para­mount im­port­ance. Pos­sible ad­verse ef­fects might be in par­tic­u­lar the in­crease of con­sump­tion and a re­lated in­crease of med­ic­al, psy­chi­at­ric and so­cial prob­lems. Be­sides im­pacts on traffic ac­ci­dents, the step­ping stone as­sump­tion must be stud­ied (gradu­at­ing to hard drugs). In­creased levels of school and edu­ca­tion re­lated prob­lems and spill over prob­lems (such as drug tour­ism, nuis­ance around can­nabis and fa­cil­it­a­tion of ac­cess for chil­dren) have been dis­cussed as pos­sible ad­verse ef­fects of leg­al­iz­a­tion. Fur­ther­more, at­ten­tion must be giv­en to the co-ex­ist­ence of il­li­cit mar­kets for can­nabis, the in­volve­ment of crim­in­al gangs and the im­pact leg­al­iz­a­tion has on the crim­in­al justice sys­tem (in­clud­ing the pris­on sys­tem).

The re­search will be based on a 5 pil­lar ap­proach.

1. Mon­it­or­ing ad­verse and in­ten­ded ef­fects of leg­al­iz­a­tion

Pre­val­ence and in­cid­ence of can­nabis con­sump­tion will be stud­ied on the basis of school based and gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion sur­veys. Hid­den pop­u­la­tions (at risk) will be covered by qual­it­at­ive re­search meth­ods based on ob­ser­va­tion and in­ter­views with key per­sons from hid­den pop­u­la­tions as well as from wel­fare de­part­ments and oth­er in­sti­tu­tions likely to be in­formed on pop­u­la­tions at risk (dro­pouts from school, home­less, ex-pris­on­ers, etc).

Im­ple­ment­a­tion re­search will gen­er­ate data on the op­er­a­tion and per­form­ance of the sys­tem of pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion in place after leg­al­iz­a­tion. This will in­clude the ana­lys­is of spillover ef­fects on the basis of ob­ser­va­tion and sys­tem­at­ic re­port­ing.

Ana­lys­is of of­fi­cial stat­ist­ics, in­ter­views and ob­ser­va­tion meth­ods will provide for data which will en­able our re­search group to ana­lyze the ef­fects on the leg­al­iz­a­tion on the crim­in­al justice and cor­rec­tion­al sys­tems. Lon­git­ud­in­al data on ar­rests, crim­in­al con­vic­tions and pris­on pop­u­la­tions will help to an­swer the ques­tion of wheth­er leg­al­iz­a­tion res­ults in re­du­cing costs com­ing with pen­al pro­hib­i­tion of marijuana.

2. Health mon­it­or

Health re­lated data will be gen­er­ated through co­oper­a­tion with the health sys­tem (de­mand for treat­ment, ob­ser­va­tion of med­ic­al prob­lems). This ap­proach ne­ces­sit­ates co­oper­a­tion with spe­cial­ized treat­ment fa­cil­it­ies, gen­er­al clin­ics and with med­ic­al prac­ti­tion­ers.

3. Leg­al (com­par­at­ive) ana­lys­is (in­ter­na­tion­al and na­tion­al law)

A third pil­lar con­cerns leg­al and com­par­at­ive ana­lys­is of na­tion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al laws. Par­tic­u­lar em­phas­is will be laid on

  • which leg­al mod­els of can­nabis con­trol are cur­rently im­ple­men­ted,
  • what in­ter­na­tion­al law (in par­tic­u­lar the Single Con­ven­tion) refer to can­nabis con­trol,
  • how the US states of Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton as well as the Fed­er­al level of the US deal with ques­tions of in­ter­na­tion­al law.

4. Policy ana­lys­is

De­vel­op­ments in the leg­al­iz­a­tion polit­ic­al de­bates and policies in North Amer­ica, South Amer­ica and Europe as well as with­in the United Na­tions and its spe­cial­ized sys­tem of drug con­trol (Nar­cot­ics Board) will be closely fol­lowed up. The ex­per­i­ence of US states such as Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton will be par­tic­u­larly rel­ev­ant for our study. Fur­ther­more, policies ad­op­ted and ad­jus­ted in The Neth­er­lands will be in­cluded.

5. Com­mu­nic­a­tion and dis­sem­in­a­tion of re­search res­ults

Fi­nally, the pro­ject seeks to es­tab­lish a net­work of re­search deal­ing with leg­al­iz­a­tion is­sues and will es­tab­lish links to drug re­search re­lated net­works in North Amer­ica and Europe. From 2014 on­wards sem­inars will be or­gan­ized in or­der to present and dis­cuss re­search res­ults re­lated to the leg­al­iz­a­tion of marijuana. Be­sides sci­entif­ic re­search re­ports, best prac­tice rules will be de­veloped with­in the frame­work of the pro­ject. Such best prac­tice rules will provide for guid­ance to vari­ous ad­min­is­trat­ive and pro­fes­sion­al groups deal­ing in prac­tice with im­ple­ment­ing and mon­it­or­ing leg­al­iz­a­tion of marijuana. A second set of best prac­tice rules will be de­veloped for policy makers. The Ur­uguay­an ex­per­i­ment will gen­er­ate valu­able know­ledge which shall be made avail­able for policy makers in Lat­in Amer­ica and bey­ond.