Nearly a year ago, Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana sales. Now it’s time to regulate them. The two states have taken slightly different approaches. Washington’s are slightly more restrictive. There will be limits on the number of sellers’ licenses available there, keeping plants for personal use is not allowed and advertising is restricted to 1,600 square inches (about a meter squared). Colorado has already begun accepting licenses without a cap, cultivation for personal use is allowed and stores could open as soon as January.
As Colorado prepares for the opening of historic recreational marijuana stores, state officials are preparing for something equally as unique — a regulatory challenge of almost maddening complexity. Faced with these challenges, marijuana regulators in Colorado stop short of guaranteeing an airtight system. But Ron Kammerzell, the state Department of Revenue's deputy senior director of enforcement, is confident the department will be able to catch most fraud.
Legal cannabis will naturally be much, much cheaper than illegal cannabis. A joint is the same sort of item as a teabag: the dried flowers of a plant in a wrapper. A fancy teabag costs a dime at the supermarket; the marijuana in an average joint costs about $4 (0.4 gram of sinsemilla flowers @ $10/gram) on the current illicit and quasi-medical markets. The combination of not having to worry about law enforcement and the economies of mass production will inevitably drive the joint price down close to the teabag price.
Nearly a year after Colorado and Washington State voted to become the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the detailed rules governing how pot will be grown, sold and taxed are finally complete. And as the two states implement their different approaches, the whole world is watching. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a new panel, headed by California Lieut. Governor Gavin Newsom, to draft a possible 2016 ballot measure to legalize pot in California.
The growing societal acceptance of cannabis in the U.S. has sparked what some call a "green rush" of people trying to cash in on what is already a multi-billion-dollar business. And as the marijuana industry comes out of the shadows, its producers, consumers and advocates are pushing for more transparency – both about cannabis' alleged medical benefits and its environmental impacts.
The US drug policy is changing, pitting states against federal law. This essay explores this inner friction of contradictory drug legislation, and what it may mean for the international drug control regime, itself a result of US drug policy. (4,400 words)