International Impacts of Legal Marijuana in the US

International Impacts of Legal Marijuana in the US

On October 17, in collaboration with the Washington Office on Latin America, Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution 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.  Panelist comments are available below as discrete audio files … our sincere thanks to the Brookings Institution for permission to reuse an audio recording of the event …

Here is the introduction from the Brookings Institution:

For 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.”


John Walsh – Senior Associate, Washington Office on Latin America.


Wells C. Bennett – Fellow in National Security Law, Brookings Governance Studies.

Martin Jeslma – Director, Drugs and Democracy Program, Transnational Institute.

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

Sandeep Chawla – Former Deputy Executive Director and Director of Research and Policy, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.


Introductory remarks from moderator John Walsh (1:52):


Opening Remarks:

Wells C. Bennett (5:43):


Martin Jelsma (12:00):


Lisa Sanchez (11:11):


Sandeep Chawla (15:58):


Moderator John Walsh asked the panelists a question:  

Why do the treaties matter?  The US is moving ahead, asserting flexibility exists, whether a close reading of the treaties supports that or not  … Uruguay has moved ahead … why should governments at this point care about the treaties and why don’t they just move ahead with the flexibility that has been de facto declared by the United States?

Wells C. Bennett response (1:43):


Martin Jelsma response (2:40):


Lisa Sanchez response (:59):


Sandeep Chawla response (15:16):


During a question and answer period, Eddie Edmunds, former  Ambassador of St. Lucia, made a statement about confusion surrounding US marijuana eradication activities in his and other foreign countries.

Eddie Edmunds (1:53):


Closing Remarks:

Martin Jelsma (1:05):


Lisa Sanchez (1:18):


Sandeep Chawla (1:18):