Brookings Institute: Marijuana Policy and Presidential Leadership: How to Avoid a Federal-State Train WreckApril 12, 2013
As previewed last week on NORML’s blog, the Brookings Institute is convening a cannabis policy forum on Monday, April 15.
Excerpts from the Brookings’ press release and description of the issues tackled by Brookings scholar and noted legal writer and commentator Stuart Taylor, Jr. are found below.
Mr. Taylor’s thoughtful and dynamic analysis and policy recommendations are here.
Of equal value and incredibly informative are two accompanying appendixes:
Appendix One: The Obama Administration’s Approach To Medical Marijuana: A Study In Chaos
Appendix Two: Conflicts Of Laws: A Quick Orientation to Marijuana Laws At The Federal Level and CO and WA
Stuart Taylor, Jr. examines how the federal government and the eighteen states (plus the District of Columbia) that have partially legalized medical or recreational marijuana or both since 1996 can be true to their respective laws, and can agree on how to enforce them wisely while avoiding federal-state clashes that would increase confusion and harm communities and consumers.
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This paper seeks to persuade even people who think legalization is a bad idea that the best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is not for the federal government to seek an end to state legalization. To the contrary, Taylor asserts, 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.
In this broad-ranging primer on the legal challenges surrounding marijuana legalization, Taylor makes the following points:
- The best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is for the federal government to stand aside when it comes to legalization at the state-level.
- The federal government should nonetheless use its considerable leverage to ensure that state regulators protect the federal government’s interests in minimizing exports across state lines, sales outside the state-regulated system, sales of unduly large quantities, sales of adulterated products, sales to minors, organized crime involvement, and other abuses.
- Legalizing states, for their part, must provide adequate funding for their regulators as well as clear rules to show that they will be energetic in protecting federal as well as state interests. If that sort of balance is struck, a win-win can be achieved.
- The Obama Administration and legalizing states should take advantage of a provision of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to hammer out clear, contractual cooperation agreements so that state-regulated marijuana businesses will know what they can and cannot safely do.
- The time for presidential leadership on marijuana policy is now. The CSA also gives the administration ample leverage to insist that the legalizing states take care to protect the federal interests noted above.
Stuart also surveys (1) what legalizing states can and cannot do without violating federal law; (2) the Obama’s administration’s approach to medical marijuana and; (3) current marijuana law at the federal level and in Colorado and Washington State.
The 2012 election is, without a doubt, the most important one yet in the world of marijuana law refom. Three states, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon will be voting to legalize marijuana use by responsible adults and Montana, Arkansas, and Massachusetts, will be voting on medical marijuana issues. These reform efforts, coupled with local ballot measures to decriminalize possession and a presidential election, give us the opportunity to make history this November.
Help us deliver the knock out blow to cannabis prohibition this fall, support the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in our fight to legalize responsible adult use of marijuana. Join us by donating to our fundraiser on Crowdtilt.com – donate $50, $25, $4.20, $1, whatever you can afford. Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana smokers. Your donation ensures we can continue our mission to end cannabis prohibition once and for all.
Together we can do this. With a little help from our friends, we WILL legalize cannabis.
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Read NORML’s 2012 Election Guide, Smoke the Vote, here to learn about all the ways marijuana policy is coming into play during the fall election.
Colorado: Passage Of Marijuana Legalization Measure Would Potentially Yield $60 Million In New Annual Revenue And Savings, Study SaysAugust 20, 2012
The passage and enactment of a statewide marijuana ballot measure this fall could generate as much as $60 million in savings and revenue, according to a just published budgetary analysis prepared by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy.
Amendment 64, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, allows for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retail outlets.
Colorado is one of three states (joining Oregon and Washington) where voters this fall will have the opportunity to substantively reform their state’s personal use cannabis laws. Four additional states — Arkansas, Massachusetts, Montana, and North Dakota — may also be voting on medical marijuana proposals in November.
According to the CCLP report, the enactment of Amendment 64 could result in an estimated: $12 million dollars of annual savings in criminal justice costs, $24 million in excise tax revenue; $8.7 million in state sales tax revenue, $14.5 million in local tax revenue, along with the creation of several hundred new jobs.
Their analysis projects that these savings and revenue estimates may double by 2017.
According to an August survey from the firm Public Policy Polling, Coloradoans favor the measure by a margin of 47 percent to 38 percent. Independent voters strongly back the measure (58 percent to 28 percent) and so do Democrats (59 percent to 22 percent). By contrast, on 26 percent of Republican voters said they favored Amendment 64.
A separate Colorado poll by Rasmussen Reports, published in June, found that 61 percent of state voters agree philosophically that cannabis ought to be regulated like alcohol or tobacco.
Full text of the Colorado Center on Law & Policy white paper is available online here. Additional information regarding Amendment 64 and other 2012 statewide ballot initiatives is available at NORML’s ‘Smoke the Vote’ webpage here.
According to Washington, D.C. Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, a group of bipartisan Senators, led by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), have filed legislation seeking to exempt industrial hemp (which, in effect, is very low potent cannabis) from the Controlled Substances Act (which, concerning cannabis specifically, is largely directed at prohibiting recreational and therapeutic use of the herb).
Update: You can help advocate for this bill’s passage here.
One of the most indefensible aspects of modern Cannabis Prohibition is the federal government’s continued opposition to allowing American farmers and consumers benefit from a domestic industrial hemp industry, when, ridiculously, other free market and democratic countries who also maintain user prohibitions on cannabis—countries like the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and notably Canada—allow their farmers to legally cultivate industrial cannabis. This inherently places American farmers and agriculture at a competitive disadvantage and American consumers paying higher costs for imported raw and finished hemp products.
Senator Wyden tells The Hill:
“I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it resembles an illegal one,” Wyden said. “Raising this issue has sparked a growing awareness of exactly how ridiculous the U.S.’s ban on industrial hemp is. I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and Members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near
Read more here.
To learn everything you need to know about hemp and efforts to reform America’s antiquated industrial hemp laws, please check out our hempen friends:
As more and more public, economic and political attention is being cast towards cannabis legalization during the failed policy’s 75th birthday week, these apparently are the years of sober public policy writing examining what an end to Cannabis Prohibition is possibly going to look like with tax lawyer Patrick Ogelsby’s cover article in State Tax Notes last year, Rand Corporation/Kleinman/Caulkins’ book ‘Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know — 2012’ and now a cover piece in the magazine we policy wonks live to read…Governing Magazine.
The Governing writer touches upon what I’ve come to recognize as obvious: rigid state medical cannabis programs like Colorado’s (as, for example, compared to California’s practically non-existent state regulations and laws regarding medical cannabis) as necessary precursor to state-sanctioned cannabis legalization for non-medical retail.
With publications and books like these being distributed widely among policymakers, elected officials, staff, media and NGOs…it is not possible that Cannabis Prohibition can survive in free market-oriented democracies like America for an additional seventy-five years!
Wanted to share the link to my medical marijuana feature, now it’s been posted online: http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-medical-marijuana-becoming-mainstream.html
As I think I mentioned to you, it was our August cover! (You can see it in the upper right-hand corner). Feel free to distribute it through your own channels, and I’d love to hear any feedback. Couldn’t have done it without all the background and additional help and contacts that you gave me. Thanks again. Sure we’ll have a chance to chat again soon.
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