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Ethan Nadelmann: Marijuana is Legal. Your Move, Eric Holder.
Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York City-based non-profit organization working to end the War on Drugs.
Nadelmann was born in New York City and received his BA, JD, and PhD from Harvard, and a master’s degree in international relations from the London School of Economics. He then taught politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994, where his speaking and writings on drug policy—in publications ranging from Science and Foreign Affairs to American Heritage and National Review—attracted international attention. He authored Cops Across Borders, the first scholarly study of the internationalization of U.S. criminal law enforcement, and co-authored another book entitled Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations, published by Oxford University Press in 2006.
In 1994, Nadelmann founded the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy institute created with the philanthropic support of George Soros. In 2000, the growing Center merged with another organization to form the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. Described by Rolling Stone as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts, Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the most prominent proponent of drug policy reform.
You can connect with Ethan Nadelmann and the Drug Policy Alliance here:
Ethan Nadelmann: With the victories for the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington on Election Day 2012, it really presents the White House and the Attorney General with a dilemma. Because on the one hand they and their law enforcement officials – federal law enforcement officials, you know, can point out and have repeatedly said it’s all illegal under federal law. Regardless of what the states do, it’s still illegal under federal law to possess, buy, use, sell, grow – all illegal. That’s it.
But as we saw with medical marijuana, which began to be legalized back in the mid 90s and is now legal in 18 states and Washington DC, it’s not so simple. And what we see is that the federal government has allowed various states to set up their own systems to regulate medical marijuana. Some places are interfering; some places they’re letting it be.
You know, what Obama said when he ran for president the first time and what he and the Justice Department made good on in the first year back in 2009 was to say that if medical marijuana producers, dispensaries are operating legally and transparently under state law, it will not be a federal law enforcement priority.
So the federal policy has been very mixed with some of the federal U.S. attorneys being very aggressive in places like Montana and California and trying to shut everybody down, and other states like New Mexico or Maine or other parts of New England really holding back, right. And then you look at a place like Colorado which legalized medical marijuana back in 2000 and then adopted a statewide regulatory approach a few years ago – through the legislature, signed by the governor.
And even there you have hundreds of dispensaries operating above ground, being taxed, regulated, law enforcement, government officials oversee them. There’s a medical marijuana enforcement division. So you have in Colorado a very good model for regulating above ground marijuana. And you have in Washington state and some other states a very good model for regulating alcohol above ground.
So I’m very curious to see what the White House and the Justice Department do. You know, two years ago when the marijuana legalization issue was on the ballot in California in 2010, a month before the election, Holder, the Attorney General, said to Californians, “You better watch out because if you do this the Feds are not gonna allow this.”
This time in 2012, Holder did not say a word, notwithstanding the fact that all the former heads of the DEA and the former heads of the drug czars office all banding together appealing it. But I think what happened was the White House and other people in those states looked at the polling, they saw, for example, Colorado was a swing state. They saw this issue was very popular, especially with young voters and independents who could be swing voters in this election, and they decided the better course of action was not to say anything.
You also have the fact that the governors and attorneys general of these two states, Colorado and Washington, are saying, “Look, we want to implement the will of the people in good faith.”
I mean, you have the fact that the Colorado legalization initiative got more votes on election day than Obama did. And in Washington state the initiative got more votes than either of the candidates who became – or got elected governor and attorney general. You have – and all of them are saying they want to implement these initiatives in good faith.
You also have the fact that Obama has in his private discussions with people about drug policy, both with foreign presidents and with wealthy democratic donors and key political people, all of whom I’ve spoken with – they all say that Obama and Biden are indicating a willingness to move in a somewhat new direction.
You have the Washington Post which has always editorialized sort of much more sympathetic to the drug war than many other leading papers, but just recently saying that the Feds should give Colorado and Washington a chance to implement these things. So I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m optimistic about what the Feds are gonna do, but I’d say there’s a lot of good reasons why the Feds might give this a chance to be implemented correctly.
And keep in mind, nobody needs to do anything right away. You know, these initiatives enter into force in the next few – in December, early December, I think. And at that point it’ll be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in both states and legal to grow up to six plants in the privacy of your home in Colorado.
But the provisions that authorize the state government to set up a regulatory system – those don’t kick in in Colorado until July 1 and in Washington state until December of 2013. So both states have time and the Feds are able to take a wait and see approach. My hope is that’s what they’ll do.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
With the victories for the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington on Election Day 2012, it really presents the White House and the Attorney General with a dilemma.
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
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