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Fri Feb 1, 2013, 06:17 PM

What is the best regulatory framework for legalized marijuana? (Baker Institute Series)


Gary J. Hale, the nonresident fellow in drug policy at the Baker Institute, authors the second of a three-part Baker Institute Viewpoints series on the regulatory framework for legalized marijuana. Hale is the former chief of intelligence for the Houston Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The best manner by which to deal with the issue of legal marijuana is to provide context to the meaning of “legal.” The “legality” of marijuana must be addressed in terms that define the movement of the drug from the source to the street, or in this case, from the land to the lip.

In the case of persons who choose to become wholesalers of the drug, and there will be many, there is a business model that will be followed to commercialize the production, transportation, sale and profits made from marijuana. First, the plant had to be cultivated, then, in some cases moved from its place of origin to market for distribution. As a result, new rules, regulations and/or laws will have to take into account the profits that will be generated from the sale of marijuana. The difference between whether an individual becomes a wholesaler, or is characterized as a personal user, will determine whether the federal government steps in to enforce laws that several states have chosen to liberalize through legislative change, or whether the federal government decides to not enforce the laws at all.

...It is also likely that the U.S. attorney general’s office is waiting to see what Congress does in the wake of state laws legalizing personal use of marijuana before it develops policy at the Department of Justice. Full legalization of the possession and use of user-quantities of marijuana will only be reached if and when the Congress changes marijuana from its current designation as a prohibited substance under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

...Congress will have to carefully examine whether these criteria (the CSA Schedule I definitions that are currently used to classify cannabis) as well as the definitions and application of verbiage such as “high potential for abuse,” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment” and “lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug” are terms that have become obsolete, or overcome by events — or whether they still apply to marijuana as a drug when alcohol abuse could easily be defined with these same criteria. These definitions are certainly open for discussion by Congress, especially because they can easily be argued by both proponents and opponents of legalization, depending on which side of the debate they may take.

...more at the link.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 06:24 PM

1. This person seems to want to apply the law as a personal rights issue

And keep any commercial activity related to cannabis under the federal illegal umbrella.

What this would mean, in practical terms, is the inhibition of any business model for cannabis businesses - which would also include hemp.

This is unacceptable when farmers would still be prohibited from growing a crop whose only relation to recreational cannabis is the species. Growing methods are entirely different for cultivation of medical or recreational cannabis and hemp for industrial uses.

So, I don't see how a two-tier (private vs commercial) legality would work unless, like France, the U.S. made any cannabis with more than 3% THC illegal to grow as a money crop for farmers.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 06:41 PM

2. N. Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont

All of these states have passed laws to make the growth of industrial hemp legal but they have not enacted their laws because the DEA refuses to acknowledge the genetic differences between industrial hemp and medical and recreational cannabis.

Hemp (agricultural grade cannabis) has uses for health, but it does not have enough THC to create the "high" that people associate with cannabis. However, hemp is nearly a complete source of EFAs (80%.) The only plant that comes close to this profile is flaxseed, at 72% Essential Fatty Acids.

This page from Perdue University, tho it's from more than a decade ago, has good information about industrial hemp.

So, while we talk about CO and WA because of the issue of recreational use - there are 10 other states that are also prohibited from enacting their laws because Congress continues to fail the American people on this issue.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 07:00 PM

3. grow your own. period. unless you want government taking the place of the drug gangs nt

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:18 AM

4. Follow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board policy, it makes money and everyone hates it


In Pennsylvania, since the end of Prohibition, all Alcohol excluding beer and alcohol by the drink, has been sold through state owned Liquor stores (Who also runs they own wholesale business, making the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board the single largest buyer of Alcohol in the world). The great advantage of it, is that you have Unionized Civil Servants selling the liquor, as both members of a Union AND Civil Servants they are NOT at-will employees and thus can tell Management take a long walk off a short pier if Management asks them to do something that MAY not be legal (Management is also protected in that no stock holders or owners to demand greater profit by selling more alcohol, thus no pressure to sell to teens and drunks).

In Pennsylvania teens and drunks still get alcohol but it is a little bit harder to get anything but beer given that the only people selling any other alcohol are Unionized Civil Servants.

Now, they have been people demanding the Pennsylvania sell its liquor store, for they see profits in privatizing it, but such profit is achieved by losing the control you have by have the state's Unionized Civil Servants selling the Alcohol. People complain of the lack of "Service" (The State does refuse to open its store on Sunday, if someone can NOT plan they alcohol intake more then a day ahead, do you really want him or her to buy alcohol?) but when I go into a "State Store" I can find almost anything I want. If I want something exotic I can order it through the State. I have heard people complain the can NOT find what they want in the State Store, when I went into a State Store I always could (and I suspect the people complaining are making complaints for they want the stores sold so they can make a profit off the sale NOT that the service is actually bad).

Thus, the best solution is something like Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, run top to bottom by the STATE to try to minimize the harm alcohol does make. The same with Marijuana, through I would take Marijuana one more step, Pennsylvania does NOT make its own alcohol, but I can NOT see why the State can NOT raise its own Marijuana (Or restrict it to certain farmers, who must sell they entire crop to the State at a set price and from that point the State has complete control over the Marijuana till it is sold to the user).

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Response to happyslug (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:49 AM

5. The U.S. already grows marijuana in Mississippi

for patients who were grandfathered in on the law before Bush Sr. shut down the entire program. (people who were denied the use of mj for medical purposes who could prove the state was causing them harm by prohibiting cannabis.)

Here's a video from one of the people still in the program.

btw, interesting choice of your words (calling all people who drink "drunks." Doesn't really help if you want to talk about an issue by resorting to all the worn-out stereotypes of the religious right. At least they're the only people I ever heard who talked about people who want a bottle of wine with dinner "drunks."

A lot of people don't deal in all or nothing absolutes.

You should try it sometime.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 02:37 AM

6. When I use the term Drunks I meant Drunks NOT other alcohol drinkers.


Notice when I used the term Drunks, it is with the word "Teens" as I see those two groups as being two groups that we should try to keep away from alcohol. I did NOT intend it to include everyone who drinks, but most drunks know who they are (The AA is loaded with them).

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Response to happyslug (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:52 PM

7. that was the only term you used

when referring to people who are of age who would purchase alcohol, so my assumption was based upon the way you conveyed information.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 08:56 PM

8. But the previous PHASE was "if Management asks them to do something that MAY not be legal"


i.e. selling to people who are NOT drunk and of age is LEGAL, and thus I have no objection to such a sale. The words I put in parenthesis was the exception to the general rule. The objection I made to the general rule was as to illegal sales, sales to teens and people who are obviously already drunk (also referred to as "Drunks".

Do you support sale of alcohol to people who APPEAR drunk? Such service is illegal in almost every state of the Union (Illegal NOT in the sense that it is a crime, but illegal in that if that person later suffers a harm, the person who sold him the last drink may have to pay for the harm done).

Notice in the above paragraph, I did it again, the general rule comes first FOLLOWED BY THE EXCEPTION IN PARENTHESIS. That is how I learn to write, exceptions to general rules follow the general rule. I may not be an English major, but that is one way to write about complex ideas, ideas that often have exceptions.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 09:46 PM

9. no harm, no foul

I was just explaining why I made the comment. When I read the graphs, I only saw reference to drunks and teens as purchasers of alcohol. Everything else was from the pov of the employees, etc.

Moderation seems to be the key to happiness, which I'm sure we would agree upon.

As far as having the govt run cannabis businesses in the US, however - my pov is that cannabis is a plant and its use has been demonized as a way to marginalize portions of the population (starting with Latinos and African-Americans, then on to musicians, then to people who opposed govt policy in the 1960s - and that's sort of where that stereotyped has remained stuck, it seems.)

I don't think cannabis is a scary, dangerous and harmful substance. It is MUCH MUCH more benign than alcohol by any measurement. It's far more useful and far less harmful than nicotine. If we simply regulated use based upon age, I think we'd do just fine. That's the lesson of the last decade of quasi legality, imo.

Yet our govt. acts as if cannabis is more dangerous than any human-made substance. So, I tend to be overly attuned to any sorts of possible scare or stereotype or derogatory remarks in relation to any of this.

Apologies for misreading.

If you go to that site, you can read things from anti-legalization people that are just unmitigated bullshit - especially the scare claim that cannabis is SO much stronger now.

Two things have really made me lose any respect for authority in the US. The residency of George Jr. and the absolutely bullshit infested prohibition of cannabis and Congress and the DEA's attempt to maintain laws that were and are totally grounded in racism and lies.

What's interesting with these discussions is that the DEA cannot present any worthwhile argument (nor can Patrick Kennedy) to validate the desire to keep cannabis illegal.

So, I'm about to the point at which I realize those who are opposed to legalization are opposed because they have a financial interest in keeping cannabis illegal. In other words, they're willing to put people in jail and destroy lives by spouting lies to justify their salaries. That includes Patrick Kennedy's latest foray into Democratic propaganda.

Both parties are complicit in harassing and imprisoning people for profit with the continued prohibition of cannabis.

And this, obviously, makes me want to puke.

Even Chris Matthews was on tv one night (someone sent me a link, I don't watch the guy) and Matthews was giving Paddy a pat on the back for focusing on addiction. Well, Paddy isn't focusing on addiction, he's focusing on keeping a substance illegal that is no more addictive than a cup of coffee.

So, yeah, apologies for misunderstanding, but when you have "big name" "liberals" lying their asses off about this topic, you tend to question people's motives.

So, honestly, I question why you bother to bring up drunks at all. Rhetorically speaking, the use of this descriptor is meant to demean. But I do apologize for misreading what you posted.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:10 PM

10. I do a lot of custody work, Marijuana almost never comes up, unless tied in with another drug


On the other hand, Alcohol does come up, but if the use is limited (i.e. not to excess) treated about the same, not much of an issue if someone uses alcohol or marijuana. The problem is harder drugs and alcohol drunk to excess. The courts will take those situations as serious factors when it comes to Custody and Visitation of a child for those situation are clearly harmful.

In my county we have a standard clause in all Custody and Visitation orders "No drinking of Alcohol to excess", which we tell the parities means an occasional beer is OK, but if they get drunk we have a problem (We also tell the clients the clause is in ALL of my county's Custody and Visitation Orders whether alcohol abuse is an issue or not).

On the other hand when Alcohol abuse has some support, the order is changed to "No Alcohol" when either party has the child. If I represent the party who is NOT accused of the abuse, my answer is "what is good for the gander is good for the goose" i.e. blanket ban on both when either had the child ends any fight over the clause being "reasonable" or not. My clients generally accept that position for they will gladly give up alcohol when they have the child, so that when the other parent has the child, that other parent does NOT have alcohol.

When my client is the parent who is accused of Alcohol or drug abuse, most accept the restriction as reasonable (for they admit they have a problem with Alcohol or drugs and are willing to at least try to give them up so they can see their child). As to those people who do NOT agree that they have a problem, I tell them to agree to show you are willing to address the concern of the other parent (This includes situations when the parent I am representing denies alcohol or drug abuse).

On the other hand Marijuana abuse almost never comes up (except when it is used with other harder drugs). My experience is most users of Marijuana falls into three categories:
1. Willing to give it up for they want to raise their family (most Marijuana users give it up by the time they turn 30, and most people reduce they alcohol consumption at about the same age. 30 is also when most people buy they first home, and have just started their families, thus they are no longer in the social networks where alcohol and Marijuana are big).
2. Occasional user so that giving it up when they have the child is no big deal
3. Does not show up for the hearing for they are to busy smoking, thus they get a Custody and Visitation order getting Visitation when the other parent is willing to agree to them to have Visitation.

Thus Marijuana almost never comes up in Custody cases, and when it does it is handle quickly and we get on to the real issues in the dispute over Custody and Visitation.

As to Drunks, they come up all the time in Custody Cases, and I have to differentiate between them and people who drink an occasional beer. Drunks are a constant headache for most people who are drunks are NOT willing to admit it, even after we hear all the testimony from people who know them that they can NOT handle Alcohol. It comes up over and over again (and then disappear for years as the drunk decide it is more important to get his or hers next drink then to see his or hers children, then they come back and we re-ligate the whole issue again.

I can deal with people who have an occasional drink with friends, but I have run across to many drunks to be to nice about them. The older I get and the more Custody and Visitation Cases I handle, the more I see why Prohibition had so much support, even when it was repealed. The support has to deal with Alcohol and Family law issues more then any other factor, while it is NOT unheard of, but in over 75% of the cases of abuse I handle, Alcohol is involved. These drunks are nice people once they are sober, but they just can not stay that way, and when they get drunk they turn mean and I end up filing a Protection From Abuse for someone and later a Custody and Visitation Petition for the same parent.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:48 AM

11. The alcoholic bev. industry does not want cannabis legalized

Because they fear a loss of market share.

I was married to an alcoholic. I would never call him a drunk because I recognize that he has a medical problem and "drunk" is meant to deride someone with a medical issue. He was never physically violent when he was drunk. He, like others, used alcohol to self medicate. He's bipolar. He's also a brillant person who has done well-regarded theoretical mathematical research. I agreed to share custody because he has an illness, which he has worked to treat. When we were married, I just stopped drinking anything to make it easier on him. I've never been to custodial courts so I have no idea what that's like.

Now that I am no longer married to someone who cannot drink alcohol without serious problems, I will have a couple of beers or a glass of wine with friends occasionally. THAT is my experience with alcohol and most everyone I know. I have known some people who, I thought, had substance abuse problems, but only in a way that I thought they drank too much or too often - and I didn't want to be around that sort of thing.

So, I suppose it depends on what part of the world you have to deal with. I don't have to deal with people who have problems with alcohol, who are in the court system, who are physically abusing others, etc., so I don't base my opinion on that small sector of the entire population.

no matter if something is legal or illegal, however, we will still have people in the population with various problems with substance abuse. They probably feel more self loathing than you could ever find for them. That's why I would rather not use words that are reminiscent of older ways of seeing things - as people without value. They need help but they have to decide to get it.

anyway -


Two studies out of the University of Colorado Denver provide hints about what might happen (when, now that cannabis is legal in two states). In a paper soon to be published in the Journal of Law and Economics, professor Daniel Rees finds that traffic fatalities drop when states pass medical-marijuana laws. Rees also reports a drop in alcohol consumed by people ages 20-29 in medical-marijuana states.

Professor Benjamin Crost finds a similar relationship in a paper that argues marijuana use decreases and alcohol use increases after young people hit the legal drinking age. "We should expect that the higher availability of marijuana in Colorado will lead to a decrease in alcohol use among young people," Crost wrote in an e-mail.

So, it seems that keeping one substance illegal provides a reason for people to use another (alcohol) when they are of legal age.


"A small change in alcohol has a bigger social impact than a large change in cannabis," said UCLA professor Mark A.R. Kleiman, one of the authors of the book "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know." "So it ought to matter a lot whether the change is in the right direction or wrong direction."

The legalization of use and possession of small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older in Colorado and Washington will provide researchers worldwide with the best chance ever to study the interplay of alcohol use and marijuana use. The topic is what academics refer to as "cross-price elasticities of demand." It basically means how changes in the price and accessibility of one substance impact the use of a different substance.

What researchers will be trying to settle is whether alcohol and marijuana are substitutes — meaning people use one but not the other — or whether they are complements — meaning they are used together.

"The social costs of marijuana use really pale in comparison to what we see as the social costs of heavy alcohol consumption," Kilmer said. He and Kleiman both point to widespread alcohol-fueled violence and disease as reasons why a slight downtick in alcohol abuse could outweigh a large uptick in marijuana abuse.

So, the first link notes alcohol consumption is lower in mmj states. We'll see if that holds up in legal states. Some people will mix the two, no doubt, but the overall trend will be the key.

One of the big donors to the anti-legalization campaign in California in 2011 was the Beer Distributor's Industry.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:59 AM

12. The best regulatory framework would be no regulations for adult use in private


Driving under the influence should be regulated. Giving it to minors too.

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