Until November 2012, no modern jurisdiction had removed the prohibition on the commercial production, distribution, and sale of marijuana for nonmedical purposes—not even the Netherlands. Government agencies in Colorado and Washington are now charged with granting production and processing licenses and developing regulations for legal marijuana, and other states and countries may follow. Our goal is not to address whether marijuana legalization is a good or bad idea but, rather, to help policymakers understand the decisions they face and some lessons learned from research on public health approaches to regulating alcohol and tobacco over the past century.
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