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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The grand drug policy experiment!

As someone who's been teaching and research drug policy for years, along with my great friend and colleague Renee Scherlen, I am pretty sure we've both said that no one knows for sure what would happen under a full legalization regime.

That is, if a drug like marijuana were to be legalized, we would not really be able to accurately predict what would happen to rates of drug use, drug abuse, illness, death, etc. But we suspect that use might go up in the short-term (as the drug is suddenly more available and thus easier to get), drug abuse would remain unchanged (because, in spite of government claims to the contrary, a drug like marijuana does not generally lead to abuse), and illness and death would decline (because people would be using a less dangerous drug than say, alcohol). We'd also expect use to eventually level off once the "newness" of legalization fades (but if it does not yet rates of alcohol use go down as people switch to pot, this would be a net gain since the former is much safer than the latter).

But the truth is, it would be an experiment. Call it the grand drug policy experiment.

We don't know what will happen.

And we told our students that this would probably not happen in the United States. And likely not in our lifetimes.

But now, finally, we're going to find out. In the United States, and in our lifetimes!

Because two states recently legalized marijuana. And now, finally, in spite of their claims that they oppose legalization of marijuana, ONDCP, President Obama, and the Justice Department will not interfere with this policy change.

Now legal and soon to be regulated and available to responsible adults ...

Just as you'd expect from a conservative president who respects states' rights as long as they don't deny people their Constitutional rights, Obama's Justice Department will only enforce federal law within the states that aim to reduce harm (including serious crime).

For example, DOJ will still prosecute individuals or entities to prevent:
  • the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
  • the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
  • drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
  • preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
But not for mere possession or use.

Just as it should be if you believe in liberty.

Now, let's see what happens in this grand experiment.

PS, it's all over the news!

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