In a 2014 essay for Washington Monthly, Mark A.R. Kleiman, who along with Caulkins is one of the country’s leading experts on drug policy, anticipated the outsized role the marijuana industry would play in debates to come: “As more and more states begin to legalize marijuana over the next few years, the cannabis industry will begin to get richer—and that means it will start to wield considerably more political power, not only over the states but over national policy, too.” As a result, he warned, “we could get locked into a bad system in which the primary downside of legalizing pot—increased drug abuse, especially by minors—will be greater than it needs to be, and the benefits, including tax revenues, smaller than they could be.”Is it possible to legalize marijuana without drastically increasing the number of Americans who find themselves dependent on it? I certainly hope so. In my ideal world, Congess would establish a federal monopoly on the sale and distribution of narcotics, including but not limited to cannabis, with an eye towards minimizing the size of the black market and avoiding the aggressive marketing and lobbying that would inevitably accompany the emergence of a large for-profit industry. But I recognize that this is, for now, a pipe dream.
Thankfully, Caulkins and Kleiman, among others, have offered serious, rigorous, and realistic proposals for containing the downsides of legalization, including limiting the marijuana market to nonprofits and user-owned co-ops. Though they recognize that America’s experiment with marijuana prohibition has been a failure, and that there’s no turning back from legalization, they reject the notion that Marijuana, Inc., should be in the driver’s seat. What they need now is a politician willing to press their case. Assuming he hasn’t already been captured by the cannabis industry, I humbly nominate Cory Gardner.
Original Article at https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/legal-marijuana-gardner/558416/