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April 28, 2013

Potent preview of pot policy prospects, problems and possibilities

With apologies for the forced illeteration in the headline of this post, I was inspired by this effective new USA Today column by Beau Kilmer headlined "7 key questions on marijuana legalization: As more states consider the move, they will face some new and tricky issues." The start of the piece and the headings highlighted below perhaps provide an explanation:

Believe me, I've heard all the pot jokes, and some of them are true.  Public support for legalizing marijuana use is at an all-time high. Some state-level marijuana laws are going up in smoke.  And yes, Washington and Colorado are embarking on a historic joint venture.

Puns aside, discussions about marijuana legalization are getting serious.  In November, voters in Colorado and Washington made the unprecedented decision to allow commercial production, distribution and possession of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.  Not even the Netherlands goes that far.

Policymakers in both states are confronting some new and tricky issues that have never been addressed.  For them, and for anyone else thinking about changing their pot laws, here are seven key decision areas that will shape the costs and benefits of marijuana legalization:

1. Production.  Where will legal pot be grown -- outdoors on commercial farms, inside in confined growing spaces, or somewhere in between?...

2. Profit motive.  If there is a commercial pot industry, businesses will have strong incentives to create and maintain the heavy users who use most of the pot...

3. Promotion.  Will states try to limit or counter advertisements in the communities and stores that sell marijuana?...

4. Prevention.  If pot is legal for adults, how will school and community prevention programs adapt their messages to prevent kids from using?...

5. Potency.  Marijuana potency is usually measured by its tetrahydrocannabinol content, or THC -- the chemical compound largely responsible for creating the "high" from pot, as well as increasing the risk of panic attacks....

6. Price.  With marijuana, like any other commodity, price will influence consumption and revenues....

7. Permanency.  The first jurisdictions to legalize pot will probably suffer growing pains and want to make changes later on....

April 28, 2013 at 01:47 PM | Permalink

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