It can be argued that any objective reexamination of the marijuana laws and reformulation of public policy should necessarily be undertaken within some type of cost/ benefit perspective. As such, a paradigm might be structured which could examine the costs and benefits of the criminalization of marijuana vs. the benefits and costs of its decriminalization. On the one hand, there are the psychosocial costs of marijuana use which include any effects which might flow from the use of the drug. What the benefits of marijuana use might be, beyond the euphoric states and feelings of well being it offers, are yet to be fully determined. Yet by contrast. there are the human, social, and economic costs which flow from the criminalization of marijuana use. It is argued in this commentary that this paradigm can be used as a guide for decriminalization research. A variety of data sets and historical issues are briefly examined which fall within the parameters of this paradigm, and a series of research protocols which flow from the paradigm are addressed.