Last updated on: 1/29/2018 | Author:

Nora D. Volkow, MD Biography

Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Con to the question "Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?"

“[Since marijuana legalization in Colorado] there has been an increase in school dropouts, fatal car accidents, and crime related to the use of marijuana…

I’m especially concerned about teenagers’ use of marijuana since their brain is still developing, which makes them more sensitive to drugs’ adverse effects. For many years now, studies have consistently shown that people who use marijuana have poorer cognitive performance…

The loss of motivation with marijuana is particularly devastating because it will affect a person’s ability to perform not just educationally but professionally. When you think about this at the population level, you can see why it’s of tremendous worry to increase access to a drug that the public believes is benign but, in fact, likely reduces motivation and drive…

Do we want to be a nation of stoned people in an era of globalization in which competition is fierce? Let’s learn from history: England helped subdue China by bringing opium to that country. It’s an incredible way to undermine a population.

In discussions of legalization, we must also consider that we’d be creating an industry that would make more money the more that people consume the drug. So legalization could lead to a very powerful industry with major advertising clout and lobbying power that would make it difficult to regulate…

Legalization would facilitate access to marijuana and change cultural norms. That would lead to an increase in the number of people that use it regularly, which would likely increase the drug’s adverse health effects in the population.”

Marty Nemko, “What’s Up with Illegal Drug Use?,” Psychology Today, June 2, 2016

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, May 2003-present
  • Member, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences
  • Former Director of Nuclear Medicine, Chairman of the Medical Department, and Associate Director for Life Sciences, US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)
  • Former Associate Dean, Medical School, State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook
  • Former Professor, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook
  • Former Assistant Professor, University of Texas Medical School
  • Recipient, International Prize, French Institute of Health and Medical Research
  • Recipient, Laughlin Fellowship Award, New York University, 1984
  • MD, National University of Mexico, 1981
  • BA, Modern American School, 1974
  • Born in Mexico
  • Great granddaughter of Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky
  • Has published more than 600 peer-reviewed articles and more than 95 book chapters
  • Was a featured speaker at TEDMED 2014
  • Was a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) finalist in 2013
  • Was inducted into the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) Hall of Fame in 2013
  • Was the subject of a profile piece by CBS’s 60 Minutes in 2012
  • Named one of TIME magazine’s “Top 100 People Who Shape our World”
  • Included as one of the 20 people to watch by Newsweek magazine in its “Who’s Next in 2007” feature
  • Named “Innovator of the Year” by US News & World Report in 2000
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?