Beau Kilmer

Photo of Beau Kilmer
Codirector, RAND Drug Policy Research Center; Senior Policy Researcher, RAND; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office

Education

Ph.D. in public policy, Harvard University; M.P.P., University of California, Berkeley; B.A. in international relations, Michigan State University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Beau Kilmer is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where he codirects the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. He is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research lies at the intersection of public health and public safety, with a special emphasis on crime control, substance use, illicit markets, and public policy. Some of his current projects include estimating the size of illegal drug markets; assessing the consequences of alternative marijuana policies; measuring the effect of 24/7 Sobriety programs on drunk driving, domestic violence, and mortality; and evaluating other innovative programs intended to reduce crime. Kilmer's research has appeared in leading journals such as Addiction, American Journal of Public Health, Lancet Psychiatry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and his commentaries have been published by CNN, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. His co-authored book on marijuana legalization was published by Oxford University Press and the second edition was released in 2016. He serves as an assistant editor for Addiction and is a trustee of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy. Kilmer received a NHSTA Public Service Award for his “leadership and innovation in the areas of alcohol and drug-impaired driving program and policy research” and his co-authored work on 24/7 Sobriety received honourable mention for the Behavioural Exchange Award for Outstanding Research. Before earning his doctorate at Harvard University, Kilmer received a Judicial Administration Fellowship that supported his work with the San Francisco Drug Court.

Recent Projects

  • Assessing the effects of marijuana legalization
  • Estimating the size of illegal drug markets in the US and EU
  • Evaluating innovative approaches to reducing substance use among criminal offenders
  • Calculating the cost-effectiveness of brief interventions for youth
  • Evaluating programs intended to reduce violence

Selected Publications

Nancy Nicosia, Beau Kilmer, Paul Heaton, "Can a Criminal Justice Alcohol Abstention Programme with Swift, Certain, and Moderate Sanctions (24/7 Sobriety) Reduce Population Mortality? A Retrospective Observational Study," The Lancet Psychiatry, 3, 2016

Jonathan P. Caulkins, Beau Kilmer, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know (2nd Edition), Oxford University Press, 2016

Jonathan Caulkins, Beau Kilmer, Peter Reuter, Gregory Midgette, "Cocaine's Fall and Marijuana's Rise: Questions and Insights Based on New Estimates of Consumption and Expenditures in U.S. Drug Markets," Addiction, 110, 2015

Beau Kilmer, Peter Reuter, Luca Giommoni, "What Can be Learned from Cross-National Comparisons of Data on Illegal Drugs?" Crime and Justice, 44, 2015

Rosalie Pacula, Beau Kilmer, Alex Wagenaar, Frank Chaloupka, Jonathan Caulkins, "Developing Public Health Regulations for Marijuana: Lessons from Alcohol and Tobacco," American Journal of Public Health, 104, 2014

Beau Kilmer, Nancy Nicosia, Paul Heaton, Greg Midgette, "Efficacy of Frequent Monitoring with Swift, Certain, and Modest Sanctions for Violations: Insights from South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Project," American Journal of Public Health, 103, 2013

Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Robert J. MacCoun, Peter H. Reuter, Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets, RAND (OP-315), 2010

Mark Kleiman, Beau Kilmer, "The Dynamics of Deterrence," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 2009

Honors & Awards

  • Public Service Award, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Al Jazeera; All Things Considered; CBC Radio; CNN; Drug War Chronicle; KCRW-FM; Los Angeles Times; NBC Nightly News; NewsHub; New York Times; New Zealand Herald; Radio New Zealand; Rolling Stone; Vermont Public Radio; WTVN-AM

Commentary: BBC; Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies; Britannica Book of the Year; CNN; The Conversation; Foreign Policy; Huffington Post; Los Angeles Times; New York Times; San Francisco Chronicle; USA Today; Wall Street Journal

Commentary

  • A grower holds a plant for sale at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, California, July 11, 2014

    Your Questions About Marijuana Legalization, Answered

    At least five states will vote on legal recreational marijuana this November. Drug policy expert Beau Kilmer hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit to shed light on this and other issues.

    Sep 13, 2016

  • Marijuana on U.S. twenty dollar bills

    Promises and Pitfalls of Cannabis Taxes

    Setting the cannabis tax should not be considered a one-time event. Smart jurisdictions will revise their decisions over time to incorporate new data about taxes, testing, and the cannabis plant itself — without being influenced by those seeking to maximize profits.

    Aug 22, 2016 San Francisco Chronicle

  • A police officer holds a pen and conducts a field sobriety test on a motorist

    Should Some Californians Lose Their 'License to Drink'?

    In California, many efforts to reduce repeat drunken driving focus on the driving. What if the state targeted the 'drunk' aspect instead?

    Jul 6, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Rows of cannabis plants in a greenhouse

    Researcher Q&A: Beau Kilmer on the State of Marijuana Legalization

    Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and a co-author of the nonpartisan primer Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know addresses developments in marijuana policy and why reasonable people can disagree about legalization.

    May 26, 2016

  • People look at products at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, California July 11, 2014

    If California Legalizes Marijuana, Consumption Will Likely Increase. But Is That a Bad Thing?

    Legalizing and allowing profit-maximizing firms to produce, sell, and advertise recreational marijuana would likely increase marijuana consumption. But how would this increased consumption influence the use of other substances?

    May 16, 2016 Los Angeles Times

  • Group of friends making a toast

    Could You Lose Your License to Drink?

    Criminal justice reform requires creating demand for bold ideas about simultaneously reducing incarceration and crime. Given the prominent role alcohol plays in crime — and the strong results from South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety program — suspending one's “license to drink” seems well worth considering.

    Jun 23, 2015 CNN

  • A worker tends to cannabis plants at a medical marijuana plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed

    The 10 Ps of Marijuana Legalization

    Marijuana policy is a growing topic of discussion, and laws are starting to change. Ten choices confronting jurisdictions considering legalization cover many of the critical decisions that will determine whether removing prohibition is a good idea.

    Jun 22, 2015 Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies

  • Labels with prices are placed next to marijuana for sale at the grand opening of The Cannabis Corner, the first city-owned recreational marijuana store in the country, in North Bonneville, Washington March 7, 2015

    Unprecedented Changes in Marijuana Policy

    The marijuana policy landscape changed dramatically in 2014. Legal sales for nonmedical purposes began in Colorado and in Washington state. Voters in Washington, D.C., Alaska, and Oregon passed initiatives to liberalize their marijuana laws. Uruguay also started implementing its marijuana legalization law.

    Apr 30, 2015 Britannica Book of the Year

  • Employees stock their shelves with 2-gram packages of marijuana at Cannabis City during the first day of legal retail marijuana sales in Seattle, Washington July 8, 2014

    Taking a Sober Look at Legalizing Marijuana

    California and a handful of other states will probably vote on legal pot in 2016. Here are five suggestions to help policymakers who want to promote productive discussions.

    Jul 13, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle

  • Nate Johnson, managing owner of the Queen Anne Cannabis Club in Seattle, Washington

    Legalising Cannabis Is More Than Just a Yes or No Decision

    Any truly honest discussion about how to regulate cannabis markets must start with clear objectives and goals. How these markets are opened can be as important as the decision to legalise cannabis.

    May 2, 2014 The Conversation

  • woman with a lighter and a spoon preparing a dose of heroin

    Hard Drugs Demand Solid Understanding

    Due to budget concerns the federal government just shut down a critical data source that provides insights into abuse, dependence on, and spending on heroin and other hard drugs like crack and methamphetamine.

    Mar 10, 2014 USA Today

  • Proprietors of the first marijuana retailers licensed to sell pot for recreational use in Colorado

    The Feds' Role After Legalization

    Since Colorado and Washington allow profit-maximizing firms to grow and sell marijuana, there is concern they will use advertising to promote consumption by heavy users. With help from the federal government, the states will be better positioned to head off the negative consequences associated with commercialization.

    Jan 15, 2014 NYTimes.com

  • A man lights a marijuana cigarette.

    Has U.S. Gone Further Than Netherlands Over Marijuana?

    Colorado and Washington will remove the prohibition on commercial marijuana production and distribution for nonmedical purposes and start regulating and taxing it. Not even the Netherlands goes that far, writes Beau Kilmer.

    Oct 18, 2013 CNN

  • inmates outside the Orleans Parish Prison

    New Approach to Prison and the War on Drugs

    If you want to reduce cocaine consumption and drug-related crime, you get more bang for the buck if you put money into treatment rather than paying for the increase in incarceration produced by federal mandatory minimum sentences, writes Beau Kilmer.

    Aug 13, 2013 BBC.co.uk

  • protest against violence in Juarez, Mexico

    Legalization in the U.S. and Crime in Mexico

    Driving Mexican marijuana out of the U.S. would probably reduce the traffickers' export revenue by a few billion dollars a year, writes Beau Kilmer. But would reducing that revenue lead to a corresponding decrease in trafficker violence?

    May 23, 2013 NYTimes.com

  • Visuals showing suppprt for marijuana legalization in Washington state and how tax revenues will benefit the community

    7 Key Questions on Marijuana Legalization

    Policymakers in Washington and Colorado are confronting some new and tricky issues that have never been addressed. For them, and for anyone else thinking about changing their pot laws, there are seven key decision areas that will shape the costs and benefits of marijuana legalization.

    Apr 26, 2013 USA Today

  • A New Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving and Domestic Violence

    Beau Kilmer, codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, discusses South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Project, which requires those arrested for or convicted of alcohol-related offenses to take twice-a-day breathalyzer tests or wear a continuous monitoring bracelet. Those who fail or skip their tests are immediately subject to modest sanctions—typically a day or two in jail.

    Nov 15, 2012

  • 148016620

    How Might the Federal Government React if States Legalize Marijuana?

    This November, Washington state, Oregon, and Colorado voters will consider ballot measures to legalize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Even if voters pass these measures at the state level, marijuana will still be prohibited by the federal government, writes Beau Kilmer.

    Sep 13, 2012 RAND.org

  • In Brief: Beau Kilmer on Marijuana Legalization

    Beau Kilmer, senior policy researcher and codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, discusses what makes marijuana legalization so dramatically different from mere decriminalization.

    Jul 25, 2012

  • Closeup of a hand holding a lit marijuana cigarette

    Important Facts About Marijuana Legalization

    An excerpt from Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Jonathan P. Caulkins, Angela Hawken, Beau Kilmer, Mark A. R. Kleiman, published by Oxford University Press (c) 2012 Oxford University Press.

    Jul 13, 2012 Huffington Post

  • The Marijuana Exception

    Being honest about the uncertainties involved is the price of admission to any serious discussion about marijuana legalization, writes Beau Kilmer.

    Apr 23, 2012 The Wall Street Journal

  • Prime Numbers: Doped

    The illicit drug trade is the ultimate value-added chain. As cocaine and heroin make their perilous journeys from the fields of Colombia and Afghanistan to markets in U.S. and European cities, each border crossed and each trafficker involved adds dollars to a price, write Beau Kilmer And Peter Reuter.

    Oct 19, 2009 Foreign Policy

Publications