The practical question is no longer whether to legalize marijuana; a solid majority of Americans now favors it, and state after state is moving in that direction. The practical question is how to legalize it without greatly expanding the incidence of problem use and use by adolescents.
The current issue of the Washington Monthly
offers a strong critique of the trend toward commercialization, loose regulation, and low taxes as states "issue local licenses to commit federal felonies." Drug policy expert Mark Kleiman proposes, as an alternative, a change in federal law that would allow state-level legalization, but only on terms designed to prevent market domination by large corporate enterprises whose profits will come not from selling pot to occasional smokers but from expanding the ranks of daily (even hourly) habitual users via exploitative marketing techniques like TV commercials on Super Bowl broadcasts. And Jonathan Rauch argues that the biggest threat marijuana legalization is bad implementation of the kind we saw last fall with health care exchanges.
The New America Foundation and the Washington Monthly hosted a discussion on the impacts of legalization and how we can avoid certain consequences through strong federal actions that allow states to legalize marijuana but cut large corporations out of the picture.
Join the conversation online using #potinc and following @NewAmerica and @washmonthly.