Jon Caulkins, Angela Hawken, and I try to imagine a deal between the federal government and the states that just legalized marijuana.
Federal and state authorities share an interest in preventing the development of large interstate sales from Colorado and Washington, and the whole country might gain from learning about the experience of legalization in those two states: as long as the effects of those laws could be mostly contained within those states. The question is whether the federal government might be willing to let Colorado and Washington try allowing in-state sales while working hard to prevent exports, and whether those states, with federal help (and the threat of a federal crackdown on their licensed growers and sellers if Washington and Colorado product started to show up in New York and Texas), could succeed in doing so. If that happens, it would be vital to have mechanisms in place to learn as much as possible from the experiment.
Of course, nothing will happen until the “fiscal cliff” negotiation is done. Quite likely, nothing will happen after that negotiation is done, either. But it could get interesting.