Marijuana legalization passes

Colorado and Washington marijuana legalization propositions passed.

Colorado and Washington marijuana legalization propositions passed. Oregon never had a real shot.

Salon has asked me for 800 well-chosen words on the topic, to appear tomorrow.

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:

26 thoughts on “Marijuana legalization passes”

      1. Will Obama be able to bring his U.S. attorneys to heel? If you can answer that, Prof. Kleiman, you are the smartest Wahoo since Jefferson.

        1. What basis have you got for thinking he’d even want to try? He seems every bit the drug warrior, ready, willing, and eager to throw people in prison for things he himself did when younger.

  1. The Feds have already shut the banks down here in Colo. Whether there can be an infrastructure here is questionable, but baby steps. Yay!

    1. Banks are still in operation in CO. They’re just not accepting deposits from medical marijuana dispensaries.

  2. At least some good news tonight. That, and the Eminent Domain reform initiative in Virginia passed.

    And we will now see if my prediction of Obama ruling as a dictator by executive order, (Since he still has to deal with a Republican House.) will come to pass. I’m betting it does, in a big way.

    I’m betting you don’t mind unilateral rule by the Executive one bit, so long as he’s your guy.

    1. I bet he does not rule as dictator. It’s a bit hard when executive orders can’t allocate $

      And for the record, executive orders are not sufficient to run our country in any sensible manner. I predict the house R and senate R will come to the bargaining table, after some amount of fussing and whining.

      Obama is not so radically lefty as some perceive.

      1. I agree that Obama isn’t a radical lefty. I have always said that he was actually a man of the center-right; basically, a moderate Republican. Nevertheless, I don’t see why a president can’t allocate money using an executive order. As I understand the “unitary executive” theory such activities would be well within Obama’s powers, especially during “wartime.”

      2. I’m not expecting him to run the country in any sensible manner. And the only practical limit to executive orders is how many votes there are in the Senate to convict.

        Pre-Obama, you would have said changing our immigration laws couldn’t be done by executive order, but he did it. Essentially anything he does, he’ll find enough Democrats willing to rationalize it, to get away with it. We’re a dictatorship for the next four years, minimum.

        But the ballot initiatives were good news, there’s that much.

        But, again, can we agree that our voting machinery desperately needs a complete rebuild from the ground up?

        1. shall we do a count of the number of statutes enacted by Congress that President G W Bush essentially declared by executive order or other device that he would not (as chief executive) enforce? A device that was scarcely known before his presidency? If we are comparing the likelihood of rule by law under the current president and his immediate predecessors (or would-be successors), I think it’s advantage, game, set and match Obama.

          That said, I agree with you re drones, the near-torture of Bradley Manning, and the war on drugs.

          1. So we’re agreed that Obama is a continuation of a nasty trend away from the rule of law, and towards rule by executive fiat. The trend is unmistakable, we just differ about the extent of the noise superimposed on it. For instance, I attach more significance to Obama’s casual violation of the War Powers act in Libya. You didn’t like Bush’s wars, but they did have Congressional approval.

            This is how the decline works: Each side downplays their own side’s sins, and plays up the other side’s. Thus allowing them to rationalize that their guy is, if not good, at least the lesser evil. Thus voting for evil, and with each election cycle it repeats, at a somewhat worse level.

            Soon enough we’ll be arguing about whether Republican or Democratic Presidents have better controls in place on the Predator drones over our cities. That’s the direction it’s headed, unless we decide to stop voting for even lesser evils.

    2. I doubt the he’s going to herding conservatives into the FEMA anytime soon. If Obama does become more aggressive in his use of things like executive orders, however, that might not be such a bad thing if it restores the “balance of terror.” In the past, there was there assumption that certain cultural or social norms wouldn’t be violated by the party in power because they wouldn’t want to set a bad precedent that the opposition party could use if it would come to power. Because the American political parties often switched between governing and being in opposition, the system of political MAD tended to keep things on a pretty even keel.

      My sense is that during the GW Bush administration, Republicans had adopted Lenin precept of “probe with bayonets. If you meet with mush, advance; if you encounter steel, withdraw” as their own. They violated innumerable political and social norms and were encouraged by the general timidity of the Democrats and their failure to launch the expected reprisals. If Obama pushes the envelope then there are two possibilities (both of which are better than the status quo). The social and political norms will be now totally disregarded by both political parties, rather than only by the Republicans; which will leave the Democrats better off than they have been under their policy of unilateral surrender. Or both parties will come to their senses and realize that the norms routinely violated by the Republicans were the essential lubricant of democracy and the status quo ante will be restored.

      I say Obama should start the ball. My party, the Democratic Party, will be better off under either outcome. Obama should do onto the Republicans as they have been doing and would do worse onto us—only do it first.

    3. I’ve wondered for several months exactly how bitter and ungracious Mr. Bellmore was going to be when his preferred slate of candidate lost, but I must admit he has exceeded my worst expectations (in the downward direction, to be clear).


      1. What exactly did you expect, for me to join in the celebration? I think Obama has been a terrible President, and now that he doesn’t face reelection, he is free to be a far worse one. We are soon, for instance, going to find out what he was promising to Putin.

        Still, I acknowledged the victory as soon as it was actually won, and have not indulged in any paranoid claims that it was accomplished by fraud. You won, fair and square.

        And the nation will be worse off for it. I’m not going to pretend I think otherwise.

        1. dictator is a bit detached from reality.

          And yes, some lefty types referred to GWB as dictator-ish too.

          And they too were wrong.

  3. I don’t really see how the mechanics of this will work. If you look at regulation of other “vices” such as tobacco, booze and gambling, the regulatory regimes all have stringent record-keeping and banking requirements at their heart. That’s simply impossible with marijuana because of the federal laws against marijuana.

    The federal banking crimes and money laundering statutes make opening a bank account or keeping accurate records suicidal for everybody from growers/producers to retail outlets. It’s also unrealistic for the regulators to require these things not only because everybody involved would be keeping ongoing, easily admissible records documenting their involvement in serious federal crimes but also because (as we’ve already seen in Colorado) banks will simply refuse to open bank accounts for business related to the marijuana trade no matter what state law says.

    Yet bank accounts and and the ability to monitor marijuana related activities are essential if criminal elements are to be kept out of the legalized marijuana industry. If everything is done with cash, then the Mexican cartels will probably be able to capture most of the wholesale business. Collecting taxes from any marijuana business will likewise be futile because every aspect of the trade will necessarily be done using cash thereby making it impossible to monitor sales of the drug.

    This was a mistake. Either a lot of decent, well-meaning people will have their lives destroyed by federal law enforcement or Colorado could very easily end up looking like Chicago during Prohibition.

  4. As a WA resident (voted FOR the initiative), I think many people don’t actually expect much to change, due to continuing Federal laws. Also, I voted for the measure despite knowing that, as written, 502 is pretty flawed. However, I hope it provides some backing for state and federal politicians to work on real drug-law reform. I think of 502 as the start of a long process.

    My other observation: the other issues on the ballot — R74 (same sex marriage), Inslee v. McKenna (governor), 1240 (charter schools), and a handful of other local races had MUCH more mindshare than 502, and most of the candidates in statewide races stayed away from discussing 502 or endorsing either side of it.

  5. Government of the people! Truth! Government of the 100% instead of the 1%!

    The rich get plenty rich under Democrats, and the poor and middle get richer too. Plenty for all. All in this together. UNITED States.

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