Legalizing Cannabis, the Russian Nuclear Threat, Digital Offshoring: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

October 14, 2022

This week, we discuss why prices matter when it comes to cannabis policy; considering whether Putin might actually use nukes; the likelihood of reviving the Iran nuclear deal; Puerto Rico's ongoing recovery; how digital offshoring could affect the U.S. labor market; and military activities in space.

Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Cannabis Legalization and Racial Equity: Prices Matter

Last week, President Joe Biden announced that he is pardoning people who were convicted on federal charges of simple cannabis possession.

The move is a major step in changing a federal approach to cannabis that has disproportionately affected communities of color for decades.

According to RAND's Beau Kilmer, federal and state policymakers should consider other ways to right these racial wrongs. For example, they could use legalization as a vehicle to build wealth in communities of color. But if this is the goal, then decisionmakers will need to pay attention to how policies affect cannabis prices.

”Cannabis legalization isn't just a yes-or-no choice,” Kilmer says. “With deliberations in Washington, D.C., beginning and more states set to vote on the cannabis legalization in November, now is the time for lawmakers to take stock of how potential changes will or won't help communities of color.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in the city of Veliky Novgorod, Russia, September 21, 2022

Photo by Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via Reuters

What If Putin Actually Uses Nukes?

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to use “all the forces and means at our disposal” against Ukraine and the West. Many doubt that he will follow through on this threat, but concern about Russian nuclear action is nonetheless growing. RAND's Edward Geist recently discussed this possibility in New York Magazine. What makes the situation so scary, he says, is that the nuclear threshold is hard to define. “We don’t know quite how the different actions we take interact with that cosmic danger.”

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi attends a news conference in Tehran, August 29, 2022

Photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters

The Window to Save the Iran Nuclear Deal May Be Closing

Talks to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal have been dragging on for 18 months. As negotiations continue, it will become more difficult to revive the deal, says RAND's Heather Williams. “At some point, the juice won't be worth the squeeze.” Why has the agreement been so hard to cinch? The answer may lie with the complex political dynamics in Tehran.

A member of the Puerto Rico National Guard wades through water after Hurricane Fiona, Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 19, 2022

Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

RAND Experts on Puerto Rico's Recovery

Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico almost one month ago, leaving widespread damage and power outages. The latest storm is a reminder about how compounding disasters—hurricanes, earthquakes, and the pandemic—have complicated the island's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017. In a new Q&A, RAND researchers discuss the difficulties Puerto Rico is still facing, including its fragile electric grid and the threat of intensifying storms.

Image by ipopba/Getty Images

Will Digital Offshoring Make Waves in the U.S. Labor Market?

Digital offshoring—using digital technologies to move jobs overseas to cheaper locations—may be one of the long-term effects of the remote work boom. In a new paper, RAND economist Tobias Sytsma considers how this practice could affect U.S. workers. Digital offshoring will create winners and losers, Sytsma says. And while there will always be “good jobs” available for American workers, not everyone will have access to those opportunities.

An artist's rendering of WGS-11+, a U.S. military communications satellite to be operated by the U.S. Space Force in 2024

Image by Boeing via U.S. Space Force

How China and Russia Perceive U.S. Military Activities in Space

U.S. military activities in outer space have evolved significantly since the 1980s. A new RAND report finds that China and Russia see these activities as signs of hostile intent. Additionally, both Chinese and Russian officials believe that the United States has led the way to militarizing space, leaving them no choice but to counter. It appears that Washington, Beijing, and Moscow are caught in a vicious cycle that perpetuates military action in space.

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