On Experimenting with Marijuana Legalization

Kevin Drum for Mother Jones, on legalizing marijuana in Colorardo and Washington State:

I doubt that either state can effectively prevent locally-grown marijuana from crossing state lines, but hell, they can’t prevent it now either. So I’m with Mark: there’s no need to announce any public change of policy, but Obama should tell DEA to lie low for a while and see how Colorado and Washington do. A controlled experiment like this is the best way of finding out the effect of full legalization of marijuana. Does it lead to higher consumption? Is it a gateway drug? Will it reduce consumption of alcohol?

To me, if cigarettes (and alcohol, for that matter) are legal, then marijuana should be too.

A close friend of mine has a medicinal marijuana license here in California, and I don’t see a problem with it. So long as you’re not growing to sell or distributing to minors, then why not? There’re a lot more dangerous, hardcore drugs out there (e.g., cocaine, heroin) that deserve more of the DEA’s time. I’m not a smoker -- cigarettes or otherwise -- but I’m not convinced that marijuana is markedly worse than a pack of Marlboro. If Colorado and Washington can regulate marijuana as well as they do cigarettes, then I’d like to see other states follow suit.

See also: Mark Kleiman’s “states as laboratories” piece on this topic. Good read.