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Marijuana Research Grants
2020–21 Grant Recipients
Congratulations to the three grant recipients for the 2020–21 Marijuana Research Grant Awards. DEPC is pleased to grant nearly $130,000 to researchers across four universities and independent research centers in the United States. The winning projects will focus on a range of marijuana-specific topics central to the goals of DEPC.
Assessing the Status of Minors in Possession: Marijuana Versus Alcohol
Mitchell F. Crusto, professor, Loyola University (New Orleans) College of Law
Although public opinion has shifted towards regulating marijuana more like alcohol than other Schedule 1 drugs, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Therefore, despite changes in marijuana perception, nearly all jurisdictions punish minors in possession (“MIP”) of recreational marijuana in a punitive manner for the little harm done. Furthermore, the law’s treatment of MIPs as criminals for merely possessing and experimenting with marijuana results in the arrest and incarceration of juveniles and criminal records, which have negative direct and collateral impacts. Hence, this proposal examines what effects marijuana reforms might have on the criminal culpability of minors. Specifically, this project examines the statutory language of MIP of marijuana and cross-references that language to MIPs of alcohol. Once completed, these will be compiled into a database and categorized based on legal status: legalized, decriminalized, or illegal. Ultimately, the goal is to determine how marijuana reforms might impact punitive measures applied to minors. Once this database is complete, data will then be collected that looks at the actual arrest data for minors in specific case study jurisdictions. While some states may have excessively punitive MIP marijuana statutes in effect, the actual arrest data may show that these are rarely being utilized. Two cities from each jurisdiction that have (1) legalized; (2) decriminalized; and (3) where recreational marijuana remains illegal, will be surveyed over a three-year-period. The purpose is to see the practical effect of the statutory language, including any variants across jurisdictions. Based on the statutory analysis and arrest data, suggestions for addressing the possession of marijuana by minors moving forward will be provided.
Award amount: $8,900
Examining the Impact of Cannabis Policy Reform on Referrals to Drug Treatment for Cannabis Use
Katharine Neill Harris, PhD, Alfred C. Glassell, III, Fellow in Drug Policy at Baker Institute of Public Policy, Rice University
Christopher F. Kulesza, PhD, Alfred C. Glassell, III, Research Analyst at Baker Institute of Public Policy, Rice University
For the drug war’s staunchest critics, ending marijuana prohibition is a critical first step to deconstructing a policy paradigm that not only fails to achieve a drug-free America, but fails at great cost, both in measurable dollars and in immeasurable harms inflicted on people who use drugs and on minority communities writ large. But despite significant advances in decriminalization and legalization efforts, marijuana remains an integral feature of the larger war on drugs. Nationwide there were over 500,000 cannabis-related arrests in 2019, accounting for 35 percent of all drug arrests that year. Black people remain more than three times as likely to be arrested for possession. The continuation of arrests and uneven enforcement vitiates the promise of these reforms to end cannabis prohibition and the systemic inequities it propagates. It also raises the question of whether prohibitionist policies and practices continue at other points in the justice system as well. Though fewer people are incarcerated solely for marijuana possession now than a decade ago, the justice system continues surveillance of people for marijuana use through such mechanisms as probation, diversionary programs, and mandated drug treatment. This study proposes to examine the extent to which surveillance of juveniles and adults who use marijuana continues in legalized and decriminalized states by analyzing referral sources to treatment for cannabis use.
Award amount: $35,955
Marijuana Legalization In New Jersey: Early Impacts on Community-Level Crime and Beliefs
Jordan M. Hyatt, JD, PhD, associate professor, Department of Criminology and Justice Studies
Center for Public Policy, Drexel University
Nathan W. Link, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice,
Rutgers University – Camden
Valerio Baćak, PhD, assistant professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University – Newark
The impact of the legalization of recreational marijuana has been considered from a variety of policy-relevant perspectives, including those that emphasize health, moral, and fiscal dimensions. The potential for an increase, or a decrease, in criminal and law enforcement activity is also vigorously debated, both as a concern for the public and as an element of racial justice. Legalization in large jurisdictions in the Pacific Northwest has provided the first robust, empirical data on how crime rates have been impacted. New Jersey, though dissimilar from many states that have previously legalized marijuana, has recently adopted legislation that will have a largely similar effect on drug policy. The proposed set of projects will seek to contemporaneously examine how this policy shift changes crime rates in three ways: (1) a descriptive analysis of arrests for marijuana possession across the state before and after legalization, (2) a comparison of how crime rates after legalization change in Camden (NJ) as compared to contiguous Philadelphia (PA), where recreational marijuana remains illegal, and (3) a survey of attitudes towards marijuana usage held by law enforcement and community members. These distinctive analyses will provide a foundation for an evidence-based assessment of the impact of New Jersey’s reform and a more relevant point of comparison for similarly-oriented jurisdictions.
Award amount: $84,000 over two years
About the Process
In fall of 2020, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) invited researchers from universities and independent research centers in the United States to submit proposals for funded research focused on implementation and policy impacts of marijuana legalization. We were specifically interested in research addressing questions related to public health, criminal justice and public safety, as well as their various intersections. In selection for funding, we were likely to prioritize shorter-term research projects that can help inform the work of lawmakers, regulators and advocates eager to promote evidence-based best practices and policies in future reforms efforts.
In general, grant requests should not have exceeded $50,000. However, projects exceeding this amount were still encouraged to apply as additional funding could be appropriated.
Submissions are now closed.