First thoughts on Colorado and Washington

Interesting times ahead.

Interesting times ahead for cannabis policy.

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:

9 thoughts on “First thoughts on Colorado and Washington”

  1. Your point about the paradox of attempting to regulate — which we’ve already seen in California — seems really key. At least in my parts (rural NorCal’s emerald hexagon — it’s expanded from the triangle), the gray market is deeply entrenched and the law-enforcement authorities can do little to curb it. At the same time, the federal pressure has shut down local attempts to regulate and normalize, if you will, growing and sale of the stuff. At this point, it seems like the feds are making the problems worse while scarcely slowing the trade.

    1. “At this point, it seems like the feds are making the problems worse while scarcely slowing the trade.”

      The sine qua non of the drug war since Nixon, my boy.

      Now, about those judicial appointments — a good piece at Crooks and Liars lampooning Krauthammer for being an a–hole about Obama’s supposed lack of mandate … From a guy who declared that Bush the Lesser had one in 2004. The important part is that he immediately tied that to what really matters: getting YOUR judges confirmed. Kerry’s body wasn’t even cold and Krauty and the GOPsters were already working the refs on judicial appointments. Meanwhile, the Dems have done nothing on the issue, continuing a four-year slumber. Inexcusable.

    2. A couple decades ago now, my first solo backpacking trip in that area resulted in a local coming up to me and pointing to areas on my map that I should avoid, to skip grow ops with guns. The damage done to make a few bucks is not worth the World’s Longest Useless Drug War.

  2. Let me just say that our local officials around here don’t seem to like what the electorate wants on this issue, according to the way it is portrayed in the corporate media (I haven’t heard scuttlebutt yet). Diana DeGette seems to have a decent workaround but we don’t know how the paramilitary will react. All very disappointing. The people are leading, we want the leaders to follow.

    1. Rep. deGette’s proposal to amend the federal legislation (21 USC 903) to abandon pre-emption in localities that choose to legalize, to the extent that the local law positively conflicts with the federal law, seems legally sound to me.

  3. It really does seem that if the Feds are looking for a policy shift, a really good step would be to take marijuana off the schedule 1 list of forbidden substances. That in an of itself wouldn’t make it widely available, but it would make a number of interim steps possible while maintaining some control over the shifting sands. It seems that such a move could be fairly quick, surprising and might actually lead to finding some real answers to questions via research.

    If the Feds do nothing, eventually marijuana will likely be fully legalized and commercialized as a whole series of disparate interests align to make it happen.

    1. So let’s say the Feds reschedule cannabis to Schedule 2; the only difference now is that the CSA recognizes some medical use, but it still has to be approved by the FDA, right? And the FDA isn’t too keen on considering a smoked formulation of vegetal matter of varying composition. And even if they did, the process would take years to completion. Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington have already legalized pot for recreational use. So the Schedule shift doesn’t offer any resolution to that conflict.

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