Friday, November 9, 2012

Marijuana Legalization

The New York Times looks at the significance of Colorado and Washington's new marijuana laws:
As soon as the laws are certified, it will be legal under Colorado and Washington law for adults 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. In Colorado, people will be able to grow as many as six plants. In Washington, users will have to buy their marijuana from state-licensed providers.
Bringing marijuana production under the control of state-licensed providers seems incredibly logical, both from a regulatory and a revenue-maximizing standpoint.  It also seems like the best way to reduce the illicit drug trade caused by the "War on Drugs" that has done so much harm in countries like Mexico and Guatemala.  The big question now is whether or not the Obama administration will allow it:
In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency said the Justice Department was reviewing the ballot measures and declined to comment directly on how officials would respond to them. But he said the agency’s enforcement of federal drug laws “remains unchanged.” The United States attorneys in Denver and Seattle responded with nearly identical statements, offering no clue on whether they would sue to block the measures from being put into effect.
It is a murky landscape now, one that potentially pits voters who supported President Obama and legalization against the president’s own Justice Department. In 2010, weeks before California voted on an unsuccessful initiative to legalize marijuana, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that authorities would still aggressively prosecute marijuana laws.
It would be a huge disappointment to see the Obama administration continue to enforce drug laws.

On a related note, Alex at MR has linked to a study showing that states with medical marijuana laws have seen  an 8-11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities.  If true, this is a significant development for public health and safety.

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