She's an Associate Professor at Pepperdine University and is one of the co-authors of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. A C-Span interview with her is available for online viewing.
Some of the highlights of the interview:
- Alcohol is much more harmful than marijuana yet the law is much more relaxed about alcohol.
- A majority of American support legalizing marijuana.
- The big players in California are looking for that state to legalize marijuana in 2016. The effort failed there in 2010 by a thin margin. She expects a other few states to do it in 2014, so California will be a laggard.
- Globally marijuana users comprise 3 to 4% of the population, however among Americans it's around 12%. About a third of those would be called "experimenters." For about 20% of users it's a way of life, smoking every day or every other day. About a third of that latter group meet the clinical criteria for abuse or dependency. That compares with an 88% rate for cocaine users. The typical heavy user of marijuana is not dependent on marijuana. They typical heavy user of cocaine is dependent on cocaine.
- People fitting the clinical description for dependency and abuse of marijuana are unproductive, unable to get things done, and can't quit. Although it affects a small percentage of users, for those people it's a serious issue.
- Marijuana legalization advocacy groups were touting massive tax benefits from legalization. She thought the initial estimates were too high. However, the tax results so far in Colorado were much higher they even the advocacy groups had expected. Keep in mind that there was an influx of tourists seeking marijuana. Demand exceeded supply and the prices skyrocketed. Therefore, the initial tax receipts were quite high but will ultimately fall as the market levels off.
- Marijuana and alcohol have about the same rates of abuse or dependency.
- Alcohol and marijuana have a complicated relationship. Driving while stoned on marijuana is probably not as bad as driving drunk. However, driving after using alcohol and marijuana is worse than driving under the influence of either one alone.
- If the federal government wanted to take on the states that legalized marijuana now is the time. Soon it will be too late.
Ms Hawken is in favor of legalization. What would change her mind? If in the next few years marijuana legalization leads to an increase in drunk driving or if an increase in alcohol use is accompanied by an increase in marijuana use, "I will fundamentally change my mind on marijuana legalization." We'll know in the next few years.
If like me, you are fascinated with this huge social experiment but not enough to actually read the book, watch that interview.