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what would legalization really look like?

Discussion in 'Apprentice Marijuana Consumption' started by Stinkweed, May 25, 2010.

  1. I found this on, and i thought somebody else might like to read it too. This article outlines what the U.S. could be like after Legalization or Decriminalization. I thought it was interesting.


    Real World Ramifications of Cannabis Legalization and Decriminalization

    Editor's Note: As more states begin to debate the question of legally controlling marijuana, many lawmakers are posing questions to NORML regarding what effect, if any, such a policy change may have upon the public's use of cannabis and/or young people's attitudes toward it.
    The following paper reviews various studies** that have examined this issue in regions that have either a) regulated marijuana use and sales for all adults; b) decriminalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana for adults; c) medicalized the use of marijuana to certain authorized individuals; or d) deprioritized the enforcement of marijuana laws. This paper also proposes general guidelines to govern marijuana use, production, and distribution in a legal, regulated manner.

    **This paper expands upon the studies initially referenced by NORML in its paper, Marijuana Decriminalization & Its Impact on Use.

    -Criminal Marijuana Prohibition Is A Failure
    -The Case For Legalization/Regulation
    -Defining Marijuana Legalization/ Regulation
    -Marijuana Legalization And Its Impact On Use
    -Marijuana Decriminalization And Its Impact On Us
    -Criminal Marijuana Prohibition Is A Failure

    By any objective standard, marijuana prohibition is an abject failure.

    Nationwide, U.S. law enforcement have arrested over 20 million American citizens for marijuana offenses since 1965, yet today marijuana is more prevalent than ever before, adolescents have easier access to marijuana than ever before, the drug is on average more potent than ever before, and there is more violence associated with the illegal marijuana trade than ever before.

    Over 100 million Americans nationally have used marijuana despite prohibition, and one in ten – according to current government survey data – use it regularly. The criminal prohibition of marijuana has not dissuaded anyone from using marijuana or reduced its availability; however, the strict enforcement of this policy has adversely impacted the lives and careers of millions of people who simply elected to use a substance to relax that is objectively safer than alcohol.

    NORML believes that the time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.

    The Case For Legalization/Regulation

    Regulation = Controls

    -Controls regarding who can legally produce marijuana
    -Controls regarding who can legally distribute marijuana
    -Controls regarding who can legally consume marijuana
    -Controls regarding where adults can legally use marijuana and under what circumstances is such use legally permitted

    Prohibition = the absence of controls – This absence of control jeopardizes rather than promotes public safety

    -Prohibition abdicates the control of marijuana production and distribution to criminal entrepreneurs, such as drug cartels, street gangs, drug dealers who push additional illegal substances

    -Prohibition provides young people with easier access to marijuana than alcohol (CASA, 2009)

    -Prohibition promotes the use of marijuana in inappropriate settings, such as in automobiles, in public parks, or in public restrooms.

    -Prohibition promotes disrespect for the law, and reinforces ethnic and generation divides between the public and law enforcement. (For example, according to a recent NORML report, an estimated 75 percent of all marijuana arrestees are under age 30; further, African Americans account for only 12 percent of marijuana users but comprise 23 percent of all possession arrests)
    Defining Marijuana Legalization/Regulation

    What would marijuana regulation look like?

    There are many models of regulation; depending on the substance being regulated these regulations can be very loose (apples, tomatoes) or very strict (alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs)

    The alcohol model of regulation:

    Commercial production is limited to licensed producers (though non-retail, home production is also allowed)
    Quality control and potency is regulated by the state, and the potency of the product is made publicly available to the consumer
    Retail sale of the product is limited to state licensed distributors (liquor stores, restaurants, bars, package stores, etc.)
    The state imposes strict controls on who may obtain the product (no minors), where they may legally purchase it (package store, liquor store, etc.), when they may legally purchase it (sales limited to certain hours of the day), and how much they may purchase at one time (bars/restaurants may not legally service patrons who are visibly intoxicated, states like Pennsylvania limit how much alcohol a patron may purchase at a licensed store, etc.).
    The state imposes strict regulations prohibiting use in public (no open container in public parks, or beaches, or in an automobile) and/or furnishing the product to minors

    The state imposes strict regulations limiting the commercial advertising of the product (limits have been imposed on the type of marketing and where such marketing may appear)

    States and counties retain the right to revoke the retail sale of the product, or certain types of alcohol (grain alcohol, malt liquor, etc), altogether (dry counties)

    A regulatory scheme for marijuana that is similar to the scheme described above for alcohol would be favorable compared to the present prohibition. Ideally, such a regulatory scheme for marijuana would maintain the existing controls that presently govern commercial alcohol production, distribution, and use – while potentially imposing even stricter limits regarding the commercialization, advertising, and mass marketing of the product.

    Marijuana Legalization And Its Impact On Use

    Real-world examples of marijuana regulation:

    India (prior to 1985)

    Federal government imposed no national criminal prohibitions on marijuana cultivation, production, sale, possession, consumption, or commerce prior to the mid 1980s
    "The incidence of the habit as estimated ... after extensive studies in the field ranged between 0.5% and 1.0% of the population." (United Nations Bulletin on Narcotics, 1957)
    "So far as premeditated crime is concerned, particularly that of a violent nature, the role of cannabis in our experience is quite distinctive. In some cases these drugs not only do not lead to it, but actually act as deterrents. We have already observed that one of the important actions of these drugs is to quiet and stupefy the individual so that there is no tendency to violence, as is not infrequently found in cases of alcoholic intoxication." (United Nations Bulletin on Narcotics, 1957)

    The Netherlands (30+ year history)

    Retail sale of limited quantities of marijuana (5 grams or less) is allowed in licensed retail outlets for patrons age 18 or over
    Ministry of Health also licenses production and distribution of marijuana for qualified patrons
    "These data are consistent with reports showing that adult cannabis use is no higher in the Netherlands than in the United States and inconsistent with the demand theory that strict laws and enforcement prevent adolescent cannabis use." (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2010)
    "Our findings suggest that the Dutch system of regulated sales has achieved a substantial separation of markets. ... As expected, most Amsterdam respondents obtained their cannabis in licensed coffee shops, and 85% reported that they could not purchase other illicit drugs at their source for cannabis. San Francisco respondents were three times more likely to report being able to purchase other illicit drugs from their cannabis sources." (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2009)
    "Proponents of criminalization attribute their preferred drug-control regime a special power to affect user behavior. Our findings cast doubt on such attributions. Despite widespread lawful availability of cannabis in Amsterdam, there were no differences between the 2 cities (Amsterdam and San Francisco) in age at onset of use, age at first regular use, or age at the start of maximum use. ... Our findings do not support claims that criminalization reduces cannabis use and that decriminalization increases cannabis use" (American Journal of Public Health, 2004)
    "The Dutch experience ... provides a moderate empirical case that removal of criminal prohibitions on cannabis possession will not increase the prevalence of marijuana or any other drug." (British Journal of Psychiatry, 2001)

    Canada, Germany, Israel (3-10 year history)

    Federal health department oversees the licensed production and distribution of marijuana to qualified patrons
    No evidence this limited regulatory model has led to an increase in general marijuana use or attitudes among the public
    "The data provide no evidence that strict cannabis laws in the United States provide protective effects compared to the similarly restrictive but less vigorously enforced laws in place in Canada, and the regulated access approach in the Netherlands." (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2010)

    California, Colorado, New Mexico (1 year to 10+ year history)

    County/city licensing of outlets overseeing distribution of marijuana to qualified patrons
    "Our results indicate that the introduction of medical cannabis laws was not associated with an increase in cannabis use among either arrestees or emergency department patients in cities and metropolitan areas located in four states in the USA (California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington). ... Consistent with other studies of the liberalization of cannabis laws, medical cannabis laws do not appear to increase use of the drug." (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2007)
    Marijuana Decriminalization And Its Impact On Use

    Real-world examples of marijuana decriminalization (removing the threat of arrest for the personal possession or cultivation of marijuana, but maintaining prohibitions on commercial cultivation and retail sale):

    Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal, Luxemburg, etc.)

    "Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U. ... The U.S. has long championed a hard-line drug policy, supporting only international agreements that enforce drug prohibition and imposing on its citizens some of the world's harshest penalties for drug possession and sales. Yet American has the highest rates of cocaine and marijuana use in the world, and while most of the E.U. (including Holland) has more liberal drug laws than the U.S., it also has less drug use." (, 2009)
    "Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly, and is simply not related to drug policy. ... The U.S. ... stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies. ... The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the U.S., has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in national rates of illegal drug use." (PLOS Medicine, 2008)
    "This paper has shown that ... decriminalization does not result in lower prices and higher consumption rates, nor in more sever patterns of cannabis use, ... and that criminalization may reduce the legitimacy of the judicial system." (Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 2008)
    "While the Dutch case and other analogies have flaws, they appear to converge in suggesting that reductions in criminal penalties have limited effects on drug use, at least for marijuana." (Science, 1997)

    Australia (20+ year history)

    "There is no evidence to date that the (expiation/decriminalization) system ... has increased levels of regular cannabis use or rates of experimentation among young adults. These results are broadly in accord with our earlier analysis of trends in cannabis use in Australia. ... They are also consistent with the results of similar analysis in the United States and the Netherlands." (Australian Government Publishing Service, 1999)

    Great Britain (2004-2008)

    "Cannabis use among young people has fallen significantly since its controversial reclassification in 2004, according to the latest British Crime Survey figures published today. The Home Office figures showed the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who had used cannabis in the past year fell from 25% when the change in the law was introduced to 21% in 2006/07" (The Guardian, 2007)

    United States

    Decriminalization (12 states, 30+ year history)
    "In sum, there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in use" (U.S. National Academy of Science, 1999)
    "The available evidence indicates that the decriminalization of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states [that] reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states [that] retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernible impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called 'decriminalization' measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system." (Journal of Public Health, 1989)
    "Overall, the preponderance of the evidence which we have gathered and examined points to the conclusion that decriminalization has had virtually no effect either on the marijuana use or on related attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use among American young people. The data show no evidence of any increase, relative to the control states, in the proportion of the age group who ever tried marijuana. In fact, both groups of experimental states showed a small, cumulative net decline in annual prevalence after decriminalization" (U.S. Institute for Social Research, 1981)
    Medicalization (13 states, 2-13 year history)
    "More than a decade after the passage of the nation's first state medical marijuana law, California's Prop. 215, a considerable body of data shows that no state with a medical marijuana law has experienced an increase in youth marijuana use since its law's enactment. All states have reported overall decreases – exceeding 50% in some age groups – strongly suggesting that the enactment of state medical marijuana laws does not increase marijuana use" (MPP, 2005, 2008)
    LLEP/Deprioritization (various municipalities nationwide including Seattle, WA; Denver, CO; Oakland, CA; Missoula, MT; Columbia, MO, etc.)
    "Many states and localities have either decriminalized marijuana or deprioritized the enforcement of marijuana laws. There is no evidence that the decriminalization of marijuana by certain states or the deprioritization of marijuana enforcement in Seattle and other municipalities caused an increase in marijuana use or related problems. This conclusion is consistent with the findings of numerous studies indicating that the increasing enforcement of marijuana laws has little impact on marijuana use rates and that the decriminalization of marijuana in U.S. states and elsewhere did not increase marijuana use" (Beckett/ACLU, 2009)

    Strict government legalization/regulation of marijuana is unlikely to increase the public's use of marijuana or significantly influence attitudes.
    Decriminalization is unlikely to increase the public's use of marijuana or significantly influence attitudes.
    Free market legalization of marijuana without strict government restrictions on commercialization and marketing is likely to increase marijuana use among the public; however, given that the United States already has the highest per capita marijuana use rates in the world, this increase is likely to be marginal relative to other nation's experiences.


    Simons-Morton et al. 2010. Cross-national comparison of adolescent drinking and cannabis use in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands. International Journal of Drug Policy 21: 64-69.

    Reinarman et al. 2009. Cannabis policies and user practices: market separation, price, potency, and accessibility in Amsterdam and San Francisco. International Journal of Drug Policy 20: 28-37. "Drugs in Portugal: did decriminalization work?" April 26, 2009.

    Beckett et al. 2009. The Consequences and Costs of Marijuana Prohibition. University of Washington: Seattle.

    National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. 2009. National Survey on American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIV: Teens and Parents. Columbia University: New York.

    Figure 2.5 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Age 12 or Older. U.S. Office of Applied Studies, 2009.

    Table 13 Trends in Availability of Drugs as Perceived by 12th Graders. Monitoring the Future: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor, 2008

    Degenhardt et al. 2008. Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: findings from the WHO world mental health surveys. PLOS Medicine 5: 1053-1067.

    Van den Brink. 2008. Decriminalization of cannabis. Current Opinion in Psychiatry 21: 122-126.

    Terry-McElrath et al. 2008. Saying no to marijuana: why American youth report quitting or abstaining. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 29: 796-805.

    Earleywine et al. 2005/2008. Marijuana Use by Young People: The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Laws. Marijuana Policy Project: Washington, DC.

    Gorman et al. 2007. Do medical cannabis laws encourage cannabis use? International Journal of Drug Policy 18: 160-167.

    The Guardian. "Fewer young people using cannabis after reclassification." October 25, 2007.

    Reinarman et al. 2004. The limited relevance of drug policy: cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health 94: 836-842.

    MacCoun et al. 2001. Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes. British Journal of Psychiatry 178: 123-128.

    National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine. 1999. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Washington, DC.

    MacCoun et al. 1997. Interpreting Dutch cannabis policy: reasoning by analogy in the legalization debate. Science 278: 47-52.

    Donnelly et al. 1999. Effects of the Cannabis Expiation Notice Scheme on Levels and Patterns of Cannabis use in South Australia: Evidence from the National Drug Strategy Household Surveys 1985-1995. Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.

    Single. 1989. The impact of marijuana decriminalization: an update. Journal of Public Health 10: 456-466.

    Johnson et al. 1981. Marijuana decriminalization: the impact on youth 1975-1980. Monitoring the Future, Occasional Paper Series: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.

    Chopra. 1957. The Use of Cannabis Drugs in India. United Nations Bulletin on Narcotics: Vienna.
  2. tl;dr = When it was decriminalized/legalized in other places, use didn't increase or decrease.
  3. I don't want legalization. Legalization will bring taxes, decriminalization is the way to go.
  4. I don't think it should be regulated by the government, anything that is is expensive as fuck, and it would just cause problems anyway. I think it should just be legalized and unregulated, anyone can sell/grow, and no law will interfere. I can already see problems with laced weed, but people will just do the same as they do today, which is to make sure they never get weed from that certain dealer again.

  5. I'm kind of with you on this, I know if it were to be legalized the Government would get it's foot in the door so fast your head would spin. Then it would be just another government controlled entity, like liqour.

    Not to mention all the shit the government would add to it, just look at what they do with tobacco :eek:
  6. You don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about.

    EDIT: If it's LEGAL I will LEGALLY GROW my own with no interference from state/federal authorities, therefore everything about the plant and what I inhale/ingest is exactly how I want it to be.
  7. #7 sinsemillaplease, May 25, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2010
    Decriminalization is not the way to go. Innocent people will still spend years in prison on the taxpayer's dime under a decriminalized model. Under decrim, production and sales are still illegal. Where does the marijuana that is decriminalized come from if no one can grow it? If growers and dealers are still going to jail the market will still be controlled by cartels and domestic crime rings. Under NORML's tax and regulate model you can grow in your home anyway... so price is irrelevant. Besides, the price would decrease relative to current rates.

    The majority of the cost of weed is due to the risk involved in being in the business. Everyone knows weed doesn't cost much to produce or prepare for use. The cost is all in risk and the fact that your dealing with a criminal element. Eliminate that and cost is forced to find basis in the costs of production and labor plus the taxes.

    I can understand your concern based on the current crazy tax rates on alcohol and tobacco... but you've gotta keep in mind how and why those tax rates came about. Those two substances cost billions in health care dollars that their taxes don't cover. Weed is not the same in that sense. More money will be made on marijuana than the cost it will generate in the health care system. Without a basis for exorbitant tax rates they would be a pretty hard sell especially since any legalization measures would likely be made law by direct democratic petition like in California. Those kind of laws are scary to legislators since fooling around with them is obviously a direct challenge to the will of the people who made the law without help from state government.

    We would have control of the initial tax rates since we're writing the law. We would only lose that control by choice most likely since it takes a very large majority of house and senate to change laws passed by citizen initiative.

    That will never happen so there is really no point even considering it. We can't sell legalization to the general public and still expect them to tolerate street corner sales. The ones who won't oppose the measure but don't necessarily support it only do so because they've realized that it's the only way to separate the market from crime and career criminals.

    I wasn't aware that the government cultivates and sells tobacco... wait... they don't. That's the tobacco industry and in case you didn't realize it.. it's been a huge commercial entity pretty much since we figured out how to grow it. Since when has weed been similar?

    Currently and since the 1930's, marijuana has been illegally grown in this country by foreign drug cartels and mom and pop homegrowers. That's pretty much it in states w/o med laws. In states with med laws, cannabis entrepreneurs (people like you and me) opened the larger facilities that produce quality marijuana in bulk. Now why exactly would you expect this to change at the drop of a dime if the plant were legalized?

    Let's bring alcohol into the mix... since that is obviously a better comparison given that tobacco hasn't ever been prohibited in the US. Under prohibition alcohol was solely produced by criminals... as weed is today for the most part. There were large criminal orgs like drug cartels w/ weed and there were small in-home operations like basement grow ops. Prohibition ended and many large companies entered the mix to sell alcohol... yet and still microbreweries still legally exist, home brewing operations still legally exist.

    So where do you get this concern that the government will take over production and start pumping in additives? That did not ever happen with alcohol or tobacco. Tobacco has been grown with harmful chemicals for a very, very long time by the commercial tobacco industry. The weed that is grown commercially in medical states is, for the most part, grown organically or with chemicals that can be flushed completely.

    Again.. why would you expect that to change? If it were beneficial to use harmful chemicals to grow high quality weed, commercial entities in the US would already be doing it. It isn't beneficial or profit-savvy to do something like that. It would significantly lower the worth of the product. High quality cannabis consumers are quite a bit more picky than cigarette smokers. Cannabis consumers have had the luxury of seeing what the weed looks like when medical facilities produce it. Had tobacco ever been prohibited, I bet we'd see more high quality tobacco around because there wouldn't be the huge tobacco industrial complex to beat down all the mom and pop local operations taking the care to grow the quality stuff.

    Another important point is that tobacco causes cancer no matter how you grow it or what you put in it. I have to believe that that fact causes the individuals in control of production to be less concerned about what potentially harmful chemicals they add to the product. The "What does it matter... they're all gonna die anyway" mindset. Since weed doesn't cause cancer and isn't particularly dangerous in any way, I would hope we could create a pop. opinion backlash against anyone trying to pump dangerous additives into such a benign drug. Creating side effects and negative health implications would obviously not be in the best interest of a company attempting to profit from the large scale distribution of a safe product.

    And finally... even if you were right... companies like the one that produces American Spirits could still exist.
  8. with the government as it is today, they are definitely going to try and interfere with the pot business if it becomes legalized. They are going to tax the shit out of marjiuana.

    If it's decriminalized, they can't really tax it, and there's still a free market where you can grow your own weed and not worry about the pigs knocking at your door. And it's tax free as well.
  9. biggest issue with legalization is that I will still get ID'd

    its decided. im growing a mustache
  10. Please show me where you've seen a decriminalized model that allows for in-home production... or any significant production at all.

    That's one of the flaws of decrim... the drug can be possessed and used but not produced or sold.
  11. ^^ This is true.
    Decrim sounds good until you actually consider the reprecussions that come with it. There would still be cartels and accidents in the woods.:smoke:
  12. sinsemilla, when i said look what they do with tobacco, i didn't mean the government. sorry for the communication breakdown. I was thinking of the commercial industry pumping nasty additives into tobacco. I was making the point if weed were to become commercially sold i am afraid it would be contaminated with preservatives, nasty additives, yadda yadda yadda.

    I mean shit, arsenic in CIGARETTES?
  13. I've always wondered what if industries start to add in addictive substances to weed or other bad things to make it bad for your health, you think they could get away with doing that?
  14. Just my opinion after all, but I think it could look something like this:


    or maybe even like this?



  15. This guy knows what he's talking about, all the shit they add to tobacco, imagine the stuff they could put in weed, if we could grow and smoke our own stuff...heaven :)
  16. Tobacco is very hard to grown on your own, therefor nobody grows their own tobacco.

    Weed, on the other hand, is a bit easier to grow and you could grow dozens of plants to last you for a while.
  17. I really don't think a company would start adding chemicals to their weed anytime soon. For one I don't think it would sell as us the consumer I hope would be smart enough not to buy it. And you will always have your small mom and pops "organically" grown flowers and edibles.

    From what I understand of the california bill it will be similar to selling alcohol in Texas (I could be wrong about the laws there, so if some is from Texas please correct me if I am wring). Each county will be allowed to decide if they want cannabis sold in their area or not.

    Assuming if passes and the Feds somehow let it slide, I am guessing all the local medical dispensaries will be opening up shop for the general public. Which is probably why so many dispensary owners are pushing for it to pass.

    However, I am sure all these shaddy physicians writing "recommendations" for $100-$150 a piece (and seeing 3 or 4 patients an hour) will be voting no, along with all the bigger growers which will see their market and profits shrink by the bill passing.
  18. Well you know they are trying to pass a bill in Cali to make it legal for anyone 21 and up to have up to an ounce with them at any time.
  19. ^^^ That's decriminalization. What we are debating is decriminalization vs. legalization. I'm for both decriminalization to test the waters and then ultimately legalization. I'm going for MMJ right now, but I want everyone to be able to grow, and sell in whatever form it takes. I wanna see dispensaries open to the public and be able to spendtime in a "coffee house". I also want to keep it out of youth's hands more like alcohol. I want to stop crime, so I'm for legalization


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