Feds vs. states on mj: could there be a deal?


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.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Feds vs. states on mj: could there be a deal?”

  1. One of the reasons Mike Dukakis lost for reelection as Governor was that he decided that the Great Blizzard of 78 was a reason to look at the effects of minimal driving on air pollution and kept the state closed for a couple of extra days after the roads were really adequately clear. His political enemies whipped up fury at the cost to businesses, etc., and it was one of the things which led a lot of people to vote for Ed King. Just saying.

  2. The other thing is that Colo says you can grow hemp under our new law. Here in an arid state with Colorado River water in decline.

    Hemp can grow in the salinated San Joaquin Valley too, replacing cotton. Oh, and in AZ for much less chemicals and water than King Cotton.

    In this horticulturist person’s view, the future looks pretty good. Finally.

  3. This “stop interstate sales” condition should be a dealbreaker for the states. The only reason there would be interstate sales is because prohibition doesn’t work, which is the federal government’s and other states’ fault. Let THEM pay the cost of stopping interstate sales. Colorado and Washington taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay a dime.

    1. Agreed. There shouldn’t NEED to be any “deal”, the federal government has no rightful authority in this area. We do NOT have a constitution which sets up overlapping authority; Where the states have authority, (As with this.) the federal government has none.

      Arguably the federal government can prohibit interstate commerce in drugs. It’s the federal government’s responsibility to enforce that, the states have no obligation at all to make it easy for them.

      And Raich was an abomination, the sooner the Court corrects it, the better.

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