Last updated on: 2/9/2018 | Author:

Karen O'Keefe, JD Biography

Director of State Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
Pro to the question "Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?"

“Taxing and regulating marijuana allows for control, which is a far better approach than prohibition for marijuana consumers, workers, communities, and the environment.

Only in a regulated system can the government ensure marijuana is tested for dangerous pesticides and contaminants. Regulation also allows for environmental and worker protections: When marijuana is prohibited, it is often grown in environmentally sensitive locations where streams are diverted, toxic waste is left behind, and illegal rodenticides enter the food chain and poison predators — including endangered animals. Relegating marijuana to the illicit market leaves workers vulnerable to sexual assault, wage theft, violence, and felony charges.

With regulation, governments control where marijuana is sold, when it is sold, and to whom it is sold. They decide what types of products to allow — and many ban products likely to appeal to minors — and how cannabis must be packaged and labeled. Regulators can also require information be disseminated with cannabis and can fund honest education campaigns to educate marijuana consumers and youth about making healthy decisions.

Ending marijuana prohibition also frees up law enforcement resources, allowing police to focus on crimes with victims rather than fighting an unwinnable 80-year-old war against a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

Email to, Feb. 9, 2018

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Director of State Policies, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Nov. 2008-present
  • Assistant Director of State Policies, MPP, Apr. 2006-Nov. 2008
  • Attorney and Legislative Analyst, MPP, 2003-2006
  • Research Assistant, Loyola School of Law, 2001-2003
  • William Crowe Scholar, 2003
  • Recipient, Gillis Long Public Service Award, 2003
  • JD, Loyola School of Law, New Orleans, LA
  • BA, Public Policy and International Studies, Michigan State University
  • None found
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?