The Legal Marijuana Compromise

While debates over legalization often mention state “experimentation” or states serving as “laboratories of democracy,” these terms are slight misnomers so far. In an experiment, one has to try different things and compare results. Yet every jurisdiction except Washington, D.C. is doing the same thing in focusing on for-profit suppliers.

To learn how various models affect social, fiscal, health, and other outcomes, the federal government will have to make it easier for states to implement some middle-ground options. This does not require legalization at the federal level. Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University, has argued that the federal government could create a waiver system that would keep marijuana prohibited at the federal level, but formally allow states to experiment with a number of policy options.

Federal agencies could also support a clearinghouse for ideas and provide technical assistance to help state and local governments carefully consider all of the options and implementation issues confronting jurisdictions considering changes to their marijuana laws.

Of course, the federal response will be shaped by the priorities of the new administration, and at this early stage it is unclear what it will do about marijuana.

Source: The Legal Marijuana Middle Ground | RAND