This is an excerpt from Tony Payan’s column addressing the question of legalization posed by the Baker Institute. Earlier in this same forum we heard from Mr. William Martin. Enjoy:
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“However, simply saying yes — even if there are powerful reasons to do so — does not make the decision easy given other uncertain issues that must be part of the debate. For instance, how much control should the state and federal governments have? What should prevention and treatment efforts look like at the federal and state levels, assuming that the goal is still consumption reduction and marijuana laws will remain an issue within the realm of cooperative federalism? What to do with the thousands or hundreds of thousands of individuals who are currently serving sentences related to a substance that has suddenly become legal? Should they receive some kind of amnesty or be retried? Would legalizing marijuana make producers who are currently underground suddenly come to the light and become legitimate farmers? Would marijuana be a product that could be imported, say, from Mexico, or even exported? What agency would oversee marijuana regulatory efforts? Who would tax it, at what level, and where would the revenue go? What is the ideal taxation level? Would an underground marijuana market continue, particularly if taxes are too high and incentivize the underground (non-taxed) production of marijuana? What are the implications for other drugs, such as cocaine and confection drugs, after marijuana is legalized?
The debate on whether marijuana should be legalized or not has not even begun. The parties to the debate — the government with its apprehensive politicians and deeply vested law enforcement apparatus, on the one hand, and marijuana legalization advocates, on the other —are far apart and the political environment is not conducive to a dialogue. The issues are thorny and quite complicated. Hence, no one should get excited about the prospect of marijuana legalization anytime soon, but the national debate is slowly shifting, with 17 states and the District of Columbia having passed medical marijuana laws. The time to sit down to answer the questions posed here — and others — may not be that far in the future.
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Full, original column is HERE. You can find links to all the earlier columns there, also. It presents a range of opinion, but I think they all point more-or-less in the same direction. What do you think?
[images: Baker Blog]