The Cannabis Is Out Of The Bag

May 23, 2013

This week, the Col­orado Gen­eral Assem­bly put the fin­ish­ing touches on leg­is­la­tion aimed at tax­ing and reg­u­lat­ing the com­mer­cial dis­tri­b­u­tion of mar­i­juana for recre­ational use.  The process has been haunted by the fear that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will try to quash this momen­tous exper­i­ment in phar­ma­co­log­i­cal tol­er­ance — a fear mag­ni­fied by the Obama administration’s con­tin­u­ing silence on the sub­ject. Six months after vot­ers in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton made his­tory by vot­ing to legal­ize mar­i­juana, Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder still has not said how the Jus­tice Depart­ment plans to respond.  But if the feds are smart, they will not just refrain from inter­fer­ing, they will work together with state offi­cials to min­i­mize smug­gling of newly legal mar­i­juana to juris­dic­tions that con­tinue to treat it as con­tra­band.  A fed­eral crack­down can only make the sit­u­a­tion worse — for pro­hi­bi­tion­ists as well as con­sumers. Shut­ting down state-licensed pot stores prob­a­bly would not be very hard.  A few well-placed let­ters threat­en­ing for­fei­ture and pros­e­cu­tion would do the trick for all but the bravest cannabis entre­pre­neurs.  But what then? Under Amend­ment 64, the Col­orado ini­tia­tive, peo­ple 21 or older already are allowed to pos­sess up to an ounce of mar­i­juana, grow up to six plants for per­sonal use and keep the pro­duce of those plants ( poten­tially a lot more than an ounce ) on the premises where they are grown.  It is also legal to trans­fer up to an ounce “with­out remu­ner­a­tion” and to “assist” oth­ers in grow­ing and con­sum­ing mar­i­juana. Put those pro­vi­sions together, and you have per­mis­sion for var­i­ous coöper­a­tive arrange­ments that can serve as alter­na­tive sources of mar­i­juana should the feds stop pot stores from oper­at­ing.  The Den­ver Post reports that “an untold num­ber” of cannabis col­lec­tives have formed in Col­orado since Amend­ment 64 passed. Washington’s ini­tia­tive, I-502, does not allow home cul­ti­va­tion.  But UCLA drug pol­icy expert Mark Kleiman, who is advis­ing the Wash­ing­ton Liquor Con­trol Board on how to reg­u­late the cannabis indus­try, argues that col­lec­tives osten­si­bly orga­nized to serve patients under that state’s med­ical mar­i­juana law could fill the sup­ply gap if pot stores never open. It is also pos­si­ble that Washington’s leg­is­la­ture would respond to fed­eral med­dling by let­ting peo­ple grow mar­i­juana for per­sonal use, because oth­er­wise there would be no legal source. With pot shops offer­ing a decent selec­tion at rea­son­able prices, these alter­na­tive sup­pli­ers will account for a tiny share of the mar­i­juana mar­ket, just as home brew­ing accounts for a tiny share of the beer mar­ket.  But if fed­eral drug war­riors pre­vent those stores from oper­at­ing, they will be con­fronted by myr­iad unreg­u­lated, small-scale grow­ers, who will be a lot harder to iden­tify, let alone con­trol, than a few highly vis­i­ble, state-licensed busi­nesses. The feds, who account for only 1 per­cent of mar­i­juana arrests, sim­ply do not have the man­power to go after all those grow­ers.  Nor do they have the con­sti­tu­tional author­ity to demand assis­tance from state and local law enforce­ment agen­cies that no longer treat pot grow­ing as a crime. Given this real­ity, legal ana­lyst Stu­art Tay­lor argues in a recent Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion paper, the Obama admin­is­tra­tion and offi­cials in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton should “ham­mer out clear, con­trac­tual coöper­a­tion agree­ments so that state-regulated mar­i­juana busi­nesses will know what they can and can­not safely do.” Such enforce­ment agree­ments, which are autho­rized by the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, would pro­vide more secu­rity than a mere pol­icy state­ment, although less than con­gres­sional leg­is­la­tion. Tay­lor, who says he has no firm views on the mer­its of legal­iza­tion, warns that “a fed­eral crack­down would back­fire by pro­duc­ing an atom­ized, anar­chic, state-legalized but unreg­u­lated mar­i­juana mar­ket that fed­eral drug enforcers could nei­ther con­tain nor force the states to con­tain.” Not­ing recent polls find­ing that 50 per­cent or more of Amer­i­cans favor legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana, he says the pub­lic debate over that issue would ben­e­fit from evi­dence gen­er­ated by the exper­i­ments in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton.  That’s assum­ing the feds do not go on a sense­less ram­page through these lab­o­ra­to­ries of democ­racy. Source: Odessa Amer­i­can (TX) Copy­right: 2013 Odessa Amer­i­can Con­tact: oaletters@​oaoa.​com Web­site: http://​www​.oaoa​.com/ Author: Jacob Sullum

5d51669073sativa.jpg 150x118 The Cannabis Is Out Of The Bag

Here is the orig­i­nal post:
The Cannabis Is Out Of The Bag

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