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Examining the Impacts of Legalized Marijuana

Highlights from the 11th Annual Oregon Economic Forum

The 11th Annual Oregon Economic Forum was held on Thursday, October 16 at the Portland Art Museum. Approximately 375 attended the event, which included a very timely presentation of recent research by Assistant Professor Ben Hansen on the potential impact of marijuana legalization. Oregon voters have the opportunity to decide on a measure legalizing recreational marijuana on the upcoming November ballot.

hansen100x100Hansen’s research explores the impact on crime, teen pot use, and the rates of drunken driving, as well as the possible effect on Oregon’s tax revenues.

For instance, Hansen’s research found that states with medical marijuana laws saw declines in drunken driving fatalities, suicides (especially among young adult males), and the rate of heavy drinking.

Hansen also noted that taxation of recreational pot should be done carefully to avoid chasing users back to an already-thriving black market for the substance.

Read the Oregonian’s full coverage of Hansen’s presentation here.

Slides from the main presentations are now available here.

duy_100x100Other highlights of the event included an update on the regional economy from the Forum’s organizer and founder, UO Professor of Practice Tim Duy, and an examination by State Economist Mark Mullen of the impact of changing demographics on the state’s economy going forward. The keynote speaker was Doug Elliott of the Brookings Institution, who reported on the progress made in addressing regulatory shortfalls in the financial industry in an effort to prevent a repeat of the events that precipitated the Great Recession.

The Oregon Economic forum is hosted by the UO Department of Economics. KeyBank was the presenting sponsor for this year’s event. Additional sponsors included the Portland Business Journal, Langley, the Portland Business Alliance, the Port of Portland, and Providence Health Plans.