International Impacts of the U.S. Trend towards Legal Marijuana

Washington D.C., October 17, 2014

brookings-event-171014-largeFor decades, the United States has been a champion of the global drug control treaty system, which limits the use of marijuana exclusively to medical and scientific purposes, and obligates governments to punish and even criminalize recreational marijuana activity. But American attitudes toward marijuana policy are shifting: voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives to legalize regulated recreational marijuana in 2012, and recent polls suggest that the majority of Americans think marijuana use should be legalized.

How might a shift in American marijuana policies affect the prohibitionist drug treaty system? What debates are taking place in other countries over marijuana policy? Wells Bennett and John Walsh tackle these questions and more in their latest report, "Marijuana Legalization is an Opportunity to Modernize International Drug Treaties." On October 17, in collaboration with the Washington Office on Latin America, Governance Studies at Brookings hosted a forum to discuss the international repercussions of the United States’ changing approach towards marijuana. A panel of experts considered the possible ramifications for other countries and the international drug control regime.

Read the transcript of the event.

In the media:

How marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington is making the world a better place, Washington Post, October 17, 2014

Moderated by

John Walsh
Senior Associate


Sandeep Chawla
Former Deputy Executive Director and Director of Research and Policy
UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Lisa Sanchez
Program Manager
México Unido Contra la Delincuencia and Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Wells Bennett
Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
Managing Editor, Lawfare

Martin Jelsma
Director, Drugs and Democracy Program
Transnational Institute

Friday, October 17, 2014
10:00 — 11:30 am

The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium
1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC