Kleiman Suggests U.S. Policy Waiver To Let A State Experiment On Pot Regs


Even if the federal-state legal issues on marijuana are resolved, the state-level tax and regulation systems likely to emerge will be far from ideal, public policy analyst Mark Kleiman of UCLA writes in the Washington Monthly. “While they will probably do a good job of eliminating the illicit cannabis markets in those states,” he says, “they'll be mediocre to lousy at preventing an upsurge of drug abuse as cheap, quality-tested, easily available legal pot replaces the more expensive, unreliable, and harder-to-find material the black market offers.”

Kleiman suggests the possibility of a policy waiver, in which the federal government recognizes the legal status of cannabis under a state system, making the marijuana activities permitted in that state “actually legal, not merely tolerated, under federal law—only if the state system contained adequate controls to protect public health and safety, as determined by the attorney general and the secretary of the department of health and human services.” Kleiman says that would change the politics of legalization at the state level, with legalization advocates and the cannabis industry supporting tight controls in order to keep the all-important waiver. “Then we would see the laboratories of democracy doing some serious experimentation,” he says.

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