In the News

Robert MacCoun in the news:

Study looks at marijuana demand in Washington

Robert MacCoun study cited in Associated Press, December 18, 2013

In a study released Wednesday, a RAND Corp. team figured that Washington’s roughly 750,000 marijuana users will have consumed between 135 and 225 metric tons of the drug in 2013.

ACLU: Blacks busted for marijuana at much higher rates than whites

Robert MacCoun quoted in CNN, June 6, 2013

Robert MacCoun, professor of public policy and law at the University of California at Berkeley, says arrests don’t prevent marijuana use. “These arrests rarely result in prosecution, and there is no basis for believing this is a deterrent,” he told CNN. “It’s hard to see the purpose being served. The only use I can see is putting certain people, and in this case young black men, on notice. When you look at the statistical pattern, it’s hard not to see this as racial profiling.”

Men in uniform

Robert MacCoun quoted in Slate, April 29, 2013

Robert MacCoun, who contributed to a RAND Corp. study that the Pentagon commissioned when it first considered openly gay service in 1993…. concluded that “it is task cohesion, not social cohesion or group pride, that drives group performance. This conclusion is consistent with the results of hundreds of studies in the industrial-organizational psychology literature.” In other words, it’s a myth that group members have to share the same values, or even like each other, to work together effectively.

Hazy future: new opportunities and conflicts for Marijuana legalization in CA

Robert MacCoun interviewed by KALW, City Visions, January 14, 2013

“At the heart of all of this is the Controlled Substance Act which states that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that it has no legitimate medical use. So the federal-state conflict really comes down to a now fairly old federal law that conflicts with what the states are trying to do. The choice that the federal government faces … is how aggressively to reconcile that by forcing states to comply with federal law.”

Can Los Angeles ban medical marijuana shops? Voters set to decide.

Robert MacCoun quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2012

The law states that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and “there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision,” says Robert MacCoun….”Clearly marijuana is accepted as a medical treatment by many physicians, but that’s what the law says, so unless marijuana is rescheduled, state and federal officials will be at odds over this policy.”

Poll shows strong support for legal marijuana: Is it inevitable?

Robert MacCoun quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 2012

Some states may legalize marijuana soon, perhaps as early as this November, says Robert MacCoun…. That means it is time to consider shifting the debate from legalization to consideration of how it should be done. “For example, if we tax and regulate, should we tax by weight or should we tax by THC content to discourage the most potent products?” he asks.

Is this the beginning of the end for medical cannabis in California?

Robert MacCoun quoted on KALW-FM, April 19, 2012

“Every four years we enter a Presidential ‘silly season,’ where candidates make pronouncements about law and order that are ill-considered,” he said. “It’s usually not a good time to discuss rational drug policy.”

Pat Robertson backs legal marijuana. Will other conservatives follow?

Robert MacCoun quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, March 9, 2012

“He’s wrong about many things, but the fact that he is someone who usually represents the extreme conservative point of view makes the coming legalization debate more wide open now,” says Robert MacCoun a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, who follows marijuana laws.

Robert MacCoun Says Marijuana Legalization a Tough Sell

Slate, February 1, 2012 by Will Oremus

One of the RAND paper’s authors, psychologist and U.C.–Berkeley law professor Robert MacCoun, argued that pot’s place in pop culture makes it hard for even generally supportive people to take the issue seriously.

Robert MacCoun Explains Crackdown on Cannabis Sales

KALW News on, December 1, 2011 by Ben Trefny

“While they don’t think medical marijuana patients should be a high priority for prosecution, trafficking of marijuana or profiteering for medical marijuana is still on the table as a legitimate use of their resources, and they make quite clear that they are going to reserve the right to be tough.”

Robert MacCoun Describes Cannabis Research Strategy

Sacramento News and Review, October 6, 2011 by David Downs

If you want to understand the effects of alternatives—if we’re talking about legalizing cannabis—you’ve got to go where people have actually experimented with different policies, and so that’s why it’s worthwhile looking at the Dutch system.

Robert MacCoun Studies Dutch Cannabis Use

-Miller-McCune, September 16, 2011 by Emily Badger

“But mostly I think we can’t afford to ignore lessons form abroad,” MacCoun said. “We can’t afford to be provincial about this because we’ll never learn anything about how to make better policy unless we actually study countries that are trying different things.”

-Reason, September 16, 2011 by Jacob Sullum

“Cannabis consumption in the Netherlands is lower than would be expected in an unrestricted market,” MacCoun says, “perhaps because cannabis prices have remained high due to production-level prohibitions.”

-The Huffington Post, September 21, 2011 by Carly Schwartz

“For me, that was the most tantalizing result,” he said. “The Dutch have actually come up with a way to regulate cannabis use while minimizing its harms.”

-East Bay Express, September 22, 2011 by David Downs

It’s a trade-off, but the Dutch were probably thinking it’s a fair trade-off, because they initially set out to reduce hard drug use by separating the soft drug market from the hard drug market, and the data in the paper suggests that seems to have worked.

-High Times, September 24, 2011 by Mark Miller

In fact, Prof MacCoun found that cannabis consumption in the Netherlands is actually lower than would be expected for a nation with defacto legalization, which he attributes to the high pot prices created by the coffeeshop’s “cannabis monopoly” that exists on the retail level, as opposed to outright legalization, which would inevitably drive prices lower due to increased production and competition.

-The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2011 by Christopher Shea

The United States figures are higher still, but “roughly equivalent” statistically, MacCoun writes—the main difference between U.S. and European-style prohibition being the use of prison as a deterrent: We incarcerate many more drug users.

Robert MacCoun Studies Dutch and US Cannabis Use

-San Francisco Business Times, September 13, 2011 by Steven E.F. Brown
“The available evidence suggests that the prevalence of cannabis use among Dutch citizens rose and fell as the number of coffeeshops increased and later declined, but only modestly,” MacCoun wrote…. “The Dutch system serves as a nuanced alternative to both full prohibition and full legalization.”

-The Fix, September 15, 2011 by Jennifer Matesa
He added, “The theory in the Netherlands is that the gateway is more sociological—if I start hanging out with marijuana users, and we buy from street dealers, we’re going to start coming into contact with harder drugs. The study seems to support the Dutch theory that if you can separate the markets, you can reduce the gateway.”

Robert MacCoun Criticizes DEA’s Marijuana Decision

ABC News, July 12, 2011 by Courtney Hutchison

“The statement ‘it has no accepted medical use’ is simply wrong as a statement of fact,” said Rob MacCoun…. “There is now considerable evidence showing medical benefits, at or exceeding standards of evidence for many other pharmaceuticals. Prescribing physicians in over a dozen states clearly see an accepted medical value for their patients.”

Robert MacCoun Reacts to New Findings of Judicial Bias

Nature News, April 11, 2011 by Zoë Corbyn

“It is hardly the first empirical demonstration of ‘extra-evidentiary bias’ in judges’ decisions, but it is a particularly striking one because the biasing factor is seemingly innocuous and so patently irrelevant to the case at hand,” says Robert MacCoun, who studies law and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Robert MacCoun Expects More Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

San Francisco Chronicle, November 3, 2010 by Pete Young and Mark Tannenbaum

“The issue is not going to go away,” said Robert MacCoun…. “The next time around, we’ll see a proposal that’s more incremental and less radical—for example, legalizing home cultivation or setting up restricted access, like buyer’s clubs, rather than full-scale retail sales.”

Robert MacCoun Finds Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug

Time, October 29, 2010 by Maia Szalavitz

The U.S.A 2010 Rand Institute report titled “What Can We Learn from the Dutch Cannabis Coffeeshop Experience?” found that there was “some evidence” for a “weakened gateway” in The Netherlands, and concluded that the data “clearly challenge any claim that the Dutch have strengthened the gateway to hard drug use.”

Robert MacCoun Thinks Prop. 19 Could Lower Pot Price, Increase Use

New Scientist, October 27, 2010 by Jim Giles (requires registration; go to G:\Law School in the News\News Clips for article)

“We’re fairly confident that there will be a substantial price drop,” says Robert MacCoun…. Proposition 19 does not specify the taxes that will be levied on marijuana sales, and hence the prices users will pay, but the RAND authors are confident consumption will rise. “It could double,” says MacCoun.

Robert MacCoun Notes Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

The New York Times, July 19, 2010 by Jesse McKinley

“The arrest statistics are disproportionate with respect to African-Americans and disproportionate with respect to use,” said Mr. MacCoun. “And that’s very hard to justify in any way.” And while Mr. MacCoun said he was not certain that a ballot measure was the way to address that inequity, he said the positioning of Proposition 19 as a civil rights issue could be a potent selling point. “I don’t think it’s decisive for all voters,” Mr. MacCoun said. “But I think it’s an important argument, and I think it’s going to carry weight with some people.”

Robert MacCoun Studies Tax Impact of Legalized Pot

San Francisco Chronicle, July 8, 2010 by Kevin Fagan

Pacula and her four fellow researchers, who included UC Berkeley law Professor Robert MacCoun, wrote that it is entirely possible that the state Board of Equalization was right when it estimated the state could reap $1.4 billion in taxes if a now-stalled bill in the Legislature to legalize pot is passed.