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Why Do Some People Want to Legalize Cannabis Use?

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  • Jenny Williams
  • Jan C. van Ours
  • Michael Grossman

Abstract

Preferences and attitudes to illicit drug policy held by individuals are likely to be an important influence in the development of illicit drug policy. Among the key factors impacting on an individual's preferences over substance use policy are their beliefs about the costs and benefits of drug use, their own drug use history, and the extent of drug use amongst their peers. We use data from the Australian National Drug Strategy's Household Surveys to study these preferences. We find that current use and past use of cannabis are major determinants of being in favor of legalization. These results control for reverse causality from favorable attitudes to use. We also find that cannabis users are more in favor of legalization the longer they have used cannabis and, among past users, the more recent their own drug using experience. This may reflect that experience with cannabis provides information about the costs and benefits of using this substance. Finally, we uncover some evidence that peers' use of cannabis impacts on preferences towards legalization.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16795.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16795

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  1. Mayda, Anna Maria & Rodrik, Dani, 2005. "Why are some people (and countries) more protectionist than others?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1393-1430, August.
  2. Stephen Pudney, 2010. "Drugs policy: what should we do about cannabis?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 165-211, 01.
  3. Ours, J.C. van & Williams, J., 2007. "Why Parents Worry: Initiation into Cannabis use by Youth and their Educational Attainment," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2007-60, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "A Reason for Quantity Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 431-435, May.
  5. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
  6. Henry Saffer & Frank Chaloupka, 1995. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," NBER Working Papers 5238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Michael Grossman, 2006. "The Market for Illegal Goods: The Case of Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 38-60, February.
  8. van Ours, Jan C & Williams, Jenny, 2005. "Cannabis Prices and Dynamics of Cannabis Use," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 4991, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
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