The Right Way To Legalize Marijuana 
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The Right Way To Legalize Marijuana 
Posted by CN Staff on March 03, 2014 at 17:43:05 PT
By Michael Hiltzik 
Source: Los Angeles Times
USA -- Mark A.R. Kleiman is out this week with the single most comprehensive look at the trend toward legalizing pot you're likely to find. He doesn't spend much space on the pros and cons of legalization -- almost anyone can tick those off on the fingers of both hands -- but on the right way to do it, and the wrong way.Short version: Colorado and Washington are doing it the wrong way, and the federal government's hands-off approach isn't making things any better.
Kleiman's grasp of the topic isn't surprising. A professor of public policy at UCLA, he's been a recognized expert on drug policy for years. (He's also one of the few people we know who effectively shorted the housing bubble, selling his four-bedroom house on tony Mulholland Drive for a handsome profit in 2005 and sitting out the rest of the housing boom -- and bust.)Washington state hired him to consult on its launch of legal marijuana sales after legalization was passed in 2012, though the relationship wasn't always mutually satisfactory. Kleiman's consultancy ended last September, months before legalization took effect; he wasn't especially circumspect about the shortcomings of Washington's approach.That's what makes his latest piece in the Washington Monthly so useful. Kleiman observes that legalization by the states is here, and it will spread. But he doesn't have much use for the idea that this is a testament to their role as "laboratories of democracy" (to cite Louis Brandeis' phrase)."Dr. Frankenstein," he writes, "also had a laboratory." In fact, he writes, the current trend of state-by-state legalization risks creating a monster. The states are licensing activities that remain felonies under federal law, notwithstanding the federal government's current stated intention to look the other way. That makes activities in the states "quasi-pseudo-hemi-demi-legal," Kleiman says -- what happens if a new president decides to get tough?Kleiman argues that now is precisely the right moment for Congress to step in with a federal law legalizing and regulating the pot industry. That's because the pot industry is still too small, poor and fragmented to lobby against effective federal regulation. But it's only going to get bigger and richer from here, and it won't be long before it has the deep pockets to block effective federal oversight, like the liquor industry. A federal law could leave most oversight to the states, but set parameters that would help them keep it under control, discourage interstate smuggling, and limit such downsides as drug abuse and unrestrained marketing.Among Kleiman's specific recommendations: tax marijuana by weight or THC content, not by price. The latter system, which is the law in Washington and Colorado, won't keep prices high, which is important both for maximizing tax revenue and discouraging abuse.He advocates selling marijuana only through state-owned stores, like the "ABC" stores that hold a monopoly on liquor sales in many states. And he advises any states that take that route to house their marijuana sales agencies not in the tax or revenue department, which would have an incentive to expand sales as much as possible, but in the public health department, which would be inclined to keep a lid on the market.Kleiman recognizes that expecting anything intelligent out of the current Congress is, well, a pipe dream. But he observes that a presidential election is just around the corner. "Soon enough, candidates for president are going to be asked their positions on marijuana legalization. Theyíre going to need a good answer. I suggest something like this: 'Iím not against all legalization; Iím against dumb legalization.'"Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:   Michael Hiltzik Published: March 3, 2014Copyright: 2014 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by Universer on March 04, 2014 at 19:59:26 PT
Impractical Theory
"Kleiman argues that now is precisely the right moment for Congress to step in with a federal law legalizing and regulating the pot industry."And this is so practical, since Congress is so able to get things done, especially highly contentious and controversial things.I can see why the great state of Washington opted to part ways with his consultancy. His full-throated contrarianism seems to make waste of a perfectly good contract.
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Comment #4 posted by observer on March 04, 2014 at 12:20:16 PT
Tools of the Establishment
re: "Short version: Colorado and Washington are doing it the wrong way, and the federal government's hands-off approach isn't making things any better."Nary a complaint about jailing people for pot - apparently all that low-class talk about "prison" and "jail" is too crass for one of Kleiman's lofty station in life. One must wait patiently - and not speak of such crude matters as prison and jail for people involved with pot. The "right way" is to not do like the states did with Prohibition I - that is, defect and allow alcohol until the feds were undercut. Just exactly like we're seeing now with pot. No, according to the erudite Kleiman, we must continue to be preyed upon and go quietly to jail for pot, while waiting for government to legalize according to the "Right Way" which Kleiman discovered for us.How many more people should be jailed for pot, while we're waiting for the Wise and Learned Kleiman to judge our way as yet "Right"?Kleiman, and his establishment ilk, are the best the establishment can do to thwart legalization from the inside. Notice how quickly and well his fox-guarding-henhouse advice has gotten legal pot into the hands of those who voted for it in Washington State, where his toxic BOTEC bandits received hundreds of thousands of dollars in "consulting" fees to slow down, to limit, to prevent, and to otherwise keep pot from those who voted for it. With friends like Kleiman, who needs establishment lackeys?
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on March 04, 2014 at 03:30:44 PT
Just a personal note here.
 I can spell much better than my keyboard!
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on March 04, 2014 at 03:25:27 PT
Old perts become experts...
because they failed at being good perts!Paid ex-perts cannot be trusted period! Two or more "experts" may stasnd side by side and contridict each other worrd for word.I know this guy is putting way to much thought into a plant. A plant, when left to it's self, will self regulate.We do not need "experts" telling us about a plant that most any highschool sinior would know more about than they would.Higher education can make a person too clevver for the wrong reasons, like learning to say one thing while you are masking your meaning and broadcasting another message all together.Like saying something like: legalization would be a good thing for society so longas we price it so high it remains in the black market and the same people as before continue to profit from not compeating with it. [or]I do not believe in incarcerating non-crimainls who are non violent. However if the nature of their crimes spill over into the youth culture and this behaviour is the assaninator of all youth, then we we need to isolate these criminals from our yout by incarcerating them.Yes, double talk, BoP, Bureau of Prisons? or Backward on Purpose? 
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on March 03, 2014 at 20:25:41 PT
so he's advocating keeping prices high to discourage abuse? What that will do is ensure a thriving black market, with lots of violence and people going to prison.Keeping prices high will be great for Big Pharma though! 
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