The marijuana legalization initiatives passed this week in Colorado and Washington state are completely unprecedented around the world, according to a leading drug policy expert.Um comentário de um leitor:
Beau Kilmer, Codirector of RAND Drug Policy Research Center and coauthor of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, told BI that what happened on Tuesday "was really groundbreaking. No modern jurisdiction has removed the prohibition on commercial production, distribution and possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes. Not even Holland."
Kilmer explained that while many people think marijuana is legal in Amsterdam, the governments have simply decided on a formal policy of not enforcing the law against small transactions (...)
Marijuana being illegal keeps prices inflated as an extra price has to be paid to compensate for the risk of arrest and incarceration. The big difference with the initiatives in Colorado and Washington, according to Kilmer, is that the risk cost "goes away with legalization."
So the wholesale price of the drug will drop and an entirely new system will emerge, but what it looks like depends on how it's regulated.
Over the next year the state liquor board in Washington and the Department of Revenue in Colorado will make key decisions such as how marijuana is taxed, the type of grow operations that will be allowed, how large they can be and how many commercial producers are allowed in each state.
(Note: In Colorado it will be legal to privately grow up to six plants—with no more than three being mature at any given time—while in Washington it will still be illegal to grow at home.)
"If production moves from basements and backyards to industrial farms and huge greenhouses … we would expect the production cost to plummet," Kilmer said.
But don't expect the federal government to be quiet. Several government departments including the DEA, the IRS and the Department of Justice will still have a hand in shaping the market and Kilmer said that it will "be interesting to see how these agencies react to this."
Kilmer noted that the agencies have a number of options—like signaling that they will target big operations or those who openly advertise their product—and they probably won't completely crack down or be completely hands-off.
"So much depends on not only the federal response but the type of production [the state regulations] allow," Kilmer said. "Ultimately that will influence the retail prices and the tax revenues."
How can it be considered "truly legal" when it is still completely illegal on the federal level?