University of Vermont

University Communications

Janus Forum Debate: Should Marijuana Be Legal?

Release Date: 11-02-2010

Author: Jon C. Reidel
Phone: 802/656-8206 Fax: (802) 656-3203

California voters declined to legalize marijuana Tuesday when Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, did not receive a majority of votes in the midterm election. But the debate continues across the nation as other states consider to what extent the drug should be regulated.

Two of the nation's leading experts on this controversial topic will be the featured guests at the Janus Forum -- one day after the Prop. 19 vote -- at Ira Allen Chapel at 4 p.m. Acclaimed Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, co-director of the RAND Corporation's Drug Policy Research Center and acting director of its Health Economics, Finance and Organization Program, have conducted extensive research on the potential economic, health and social effects of decriminalizing marijuana.

Miron, author the book Libertarianism, from A to Z, has written numerous journal articles and op-ed pieces for the Boston Herald, Boston Business Journal, Boston Globe,, and His most recent opinion piece, titled "Don't Buy the Hype on Pot Legalization," appeared October 19 on His commentary on economic policy has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox television, BBC radio, other television, radio, and print media worldwide.

Miron's latest work is a report titled "The budgetary implications of Drug Prohibition" that estimates the legalization of drugs would result in a savings of $48.7 billion per year in government expenditures on enforcement of prohibition, with $13.7 billion of that coming from the legalization of marijuana. The report also claims that drug legalization would yield tax revenues of $34.3 billion annually, assuming legal drugs are taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco, with approximately $6.4 billion of this revenue coming from legalization of marijuana.

Pacula, assistant editor for the monthly journal Addiction, gained international recognition as one of the top experts on drug policy after releasing her 2003 book, Cannabis Use and Dependence: Public Health and Public Policy (Cambridge University Press). Since then, she has conducted extensive research on issues related to the demand for marijuana, including the health harms associated with marijuana use, the size of marijuana markets, the relationship between marijuana and other substance use, factors influencing the price of marijuana and the cost of regulating legal substances.

Pacula is currently involved in a study with several RAND colleagues examining the revenues and costs of the current ballot initiative in California. She is an expert on marijuana use and the cost effectiveness of alternative drug reduction strategies and the impact of marijuana decriminalization and medicalization on marijuana use among youth; has assessed the impact of higher cigarette and alcohol prices on demand for illicit substances; and conducted cost-benefit analyses of school-based drug prevention programs.

The is the fifth installment of the Janus Forum, a debate series founded by James Gatti, a finance professor in UVM's School of Business Administration; Arthur Woolf, an economics professor in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Richard Vanden Bergh, also of the School of Business Administration.

"The goal of the debate series is to examine the important and controversial policy issues of the day and to challenge individuals to reexamine their views in the light of well-articulated contrary positions," Gatti said. "People who have a strongly held position on an issue sometimes dismiss opposing points of view out of hand. We want to expose the audience to vigorous arguments on both sides of the debate."

The forum, which will be monitored by Emerson Lynn, editor and publisher of the St. Albans Messenger, is free and open to the public. A reception will immediately follow in the Great Hall, Billings Library. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should call Conference and Events as soon as possible at (802) 656-5665.

Information: (802) 656-3186.