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Hong Kong, Reducing Crime, Medical Marijuana: RAND Weekly Recap

December 6, 2019

This week, we discuss steps the Trump administration can take to prevent an escalation of violence in Hong Kong; a new tool to reduce crime in Chicago; U.S. options to help the Iranian people; factors associated with getting a medical marijuana card; the decline in U.S. support for NATO; and how donors help advance RAND's mission.

Protesters raise their hands outside the Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 25, 2019, photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

Protesters raise their hands outside Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, China, November 25, 2019

Photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

What Can the U.S. Do About Hong Kong?

After six months of escalating police violence and protester resistance, the situation in Hong Kong has come to a head. What could the Trump administration do to reduce the prospect of a resurgence in violence? According to RAND's Scott Harold, there are at least four policy approaches that Washington could consider.

First, continue to engage with the people of Hong Kong. Second, signal to Beijing that Washington cares about this issue on its own terms, independent of the U.S.–China trade war. Third, convey that there will be severe consequences if Beijing uses violence to crush the protests. And finally, work to build a common position with U.S. allies and partners.

A Chicago police officer monitors the Police Observation Devices on computer screens at the 7th District police station in Chicago, Illinois, January 5, 2018, photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

A police officer monitors the Police Observation Devices on computer screens at the 7th District police station in Chicago, Illinois, January 5, 2018

Photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

Reducing Crime in Chicago

In 2017, the Chicago Police Department began using real-time crime centers at the district level. The centers support decisionmaking by using technology that provides valuable information, such as feeds from surveillance cameras or data from gunshot sensors. According to a new RAND report, this approach can help reduce crime. After the centers were opened, estimated crime reductions varied between 3 percent and 17 percent for 10 categories of crime, including shootings and sexual assault.

Iranians protest against increased gas prices, on a highway in Tehran, November 16, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

Anti-government protesters on a highway in Tehran, Iran, November 16, 2019

Photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency/Reuters

U.S. Options to Help the Iranian People

Anti-government protesters in Iran were recently met with a deadly government crackdown and a country-wide internet blackout. These Iranians deserve America's support, says RAND's Dalia Dassa Kaye. And there are concrete steps that Washington could take to help them, including lifting both economic sanctions and the travel ban. There may be an added benefit to pursuing policies aimed at creating a better future for the Iranian people, she says. This approach could lead to less-dangerous policies from Tehran.

A medical marijuana dispensary in Venice Beach, California, July 16, 2014, photo by Juanmonino/Getty Images

A medical marijuana dispensary in Venice Beach, California, July 16, 2014

Photo by Juanmonino/Getty Images

Heavy Users Seek Medical Marijuana Cards

Young adults who seek medical marijuana cards are often those who already use the drug heavily—rather than those with health issues that marijuana could address. That's according to a new RAND study. As more states consider legalizing the drug for medical use, this finding may be useful to policymakers. It could help inform the design of programs that issue cards only to people with health problems for which medical marijuana is a proven treatment.

French President Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris, France, November 28, 2019, photo by Bertrand Guay/Pool/Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris, November 28, 2019

Photo by Bertrand Guay/Pool/Reuters

Is NATO Brain Dead?

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern that the West was “experiencing the brain death of NATO.” He went on to discuss the trend of America's declining support for the alliance. RAND's James Dobbins says that Macron is right to wonder about how the United States would respond to a threat to European security. But Macron is wrong to attribute this uncertainty, as he does, to diminishing support for NATO among the American public.

People with their hands on a globe

Photo by franckreporter/iStock

Giving Tuesday: How Donors Support RAND Research

Earlier this week, on Giving Tuesday, we highlighted 10 stories about how philanthropy supports RAND's mission—and helps make a difference in people's lives. From groundbreaking research on U.S. gun policy and the opioid crisis, to fighting Truth Decay and supporting America's military caregivers, support from donors and foundations helps RAND experts tackle the world's toughest policy questions.

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