Although international drug treaties prohibit the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific purposes, several jurisdictions have implemented new laws and policies, including some that remove criminal penalties for possession of small doses of cannabis.
As familiar as Americans are with the problems of youth drug and alcohol abuse, we are not identifying all the potential solutions. While observers criticize overemphasis in U.S. policy on enforcement and scant resources devoted to treatment, the focus on these approaches often ignores a key piece of the puzzle: prevention.
Since Colorado and Washington allow profit-maximizing firms to grow and sell marijuana, there is concern they will use advertising to promote consumption by heavy users. With help from the federal government, the states will be better positioned to head off the negative consequences associated with commercialization.
Colorado and Washington will remove the prohibition on commercial marijuana production and distribution for nonmedical purposes and start regulating and taxing it. Not even the Netherlands goes that far, writes Beau Kilmer.
Driving Mexican marijuana out of the U.S. would probably reduce the traffickers' export revenue by a few billion dollars a year, writes Beau Kilmer. But would reducing that revenue lead to a corresponding decrease in trafficker violence?
Policymakers in Washington and Colorado are confronting some new and tricky issues that have never been addressed. For them, and for anyone else thinking about changing their pot laws, there are seven key decision areas that will shape the costs and benefits of marijuana legalization.
This November, Washington state, Oregon, and Colorado voters will consider ballot measures to legalize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. Even if voters pass these measures at the state level, marijuana will still be prohibited by the federal government, writes Beau Kilmer.
An excerpt from Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Jonathan P. Caulkins, Angela Hawken, Beau Kilmer, Mark A. R. Kleiman, published by Oxford University Press (c) 2012 Oxford University Press.