Events

STEM Café explores costs, benefits of legalizing cannabis

Northern Illinois University political science professor Scot Schraufnagel will discuss the costs and benefits of legalizing marijuana at the next NIU STEM Cafe on Jan. 14.
Northern Illinois University political science professor Scot Schraufnagel will discuss the costs and benefits of legalizing marijuana at the next NIU STEM Cafe on Jan. 14.

DeKALB – Marijuana became legal in Illinois this month. When and why did cannabis become illegal in the U.S.? What have been the unforeseen effects of drug enforcement? And why are legal marijuana policies spreading across America?

At the next STEM Café, join Northern Illinois University political science professor Scot Schraufnagel for a lively discussion of the costs and benefits of legalizing marijuana. The STEM Café will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Fatty’s Pub and Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. The event is free and open to the public with no registration required. Food and drink will be available for purchase from Fatty’s. Accessible seating is always available at STEM Cafés.

Schraufnagel is the chair of the Political Science Department at NIU and a public policy analyst who’s been studying issues related to the adoption and evaluation of alternative public policies for 25 years. At the café, he plans to discuss the history of the illegality of cannabis, the history of medicinal cannabis, and the spread of legal marijuana policies in the states, including Illinois.

According to Schraufnagel, people might be surprised to hear that cannabis has been illegal for a relatively short period of time in the U.S. and that drug enforcement policies, historically, have actually led to increases in violent crime. However, Schraufnagel notes that the cannabis tax will be regressive and place a disproportionate tax burden on poorer citizens.

“There are often unanticipated consequences to any change in public policy,” Schraufnagel says, “so the net benefit (or cost) of the legalization of cannabis will not be fully appreciated for some time.”

STEM Cafés are sponsored by NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. For more information, contact Judith Dymond at 815-753-4751 or email jdymond@niu.edu.

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