Marijuana Legalization: Implications for Massachusetts

Law360, September 25, 2017

In an article published on, “Mass. Marijuana Laws Could Have Far-Reaching Impact,” Analysis Group Managing Principals Crystal Pike and Paul Greenberg and Vice President Catherine Alford discuss the potential implications of marijuana legalization. Presented in the context of Massachusetts' recent legislation allowing recreational use of marijuana, the article addresses several broad questions raised in the debate over marijuana legalization.

The authors note that proponents of legalization support marijuana as a safer treatment for chronic pain than prescription opioids. Proponents also argue that legalizing marijuana would reduce costs associated with incarceration of nonviolent individuals and allow states to raise additional tax revenues. Opponents, on the other hand, worry that legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among adults and children, with concomitant negative effects including cognitive impairment in children. Opponents also argue that legalization will lead to a general uptick in crime due to the cash-based nature of the business. 

The authors briefly review several studies from academics and government agencies related to these questions. They conclude that the impact of recent changes in marijuana laws in Massachusetts, as well as in other states, could be far reaching, with potentially important implications for opioid-related deaths and hospitalizations, adolescent marijuana use, and crime rates. 

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Alford C, Pike C, Greenberg P