This will be the third time we’ve discussed legalizing marijuana in the last three years. (More, if you count our discussions of legalizing common vices in 2012 and various CA ballot propositions). In the first pot-only meeting, in 2008 pre-blog, we mainly talked about the pros and cons. Public opinion had begun to shift towards legalization, and it seemed a good time to brush up on the basics of the issue. In January 2013, right after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize pot, we went a step further and speculated what might actually happen if pot were legal and widely available (increased addiction, freed up criminal justice resources, etc.) and whether the feds would allow it
What’s left to talk about? Well, both states just have issued the regulations that will govern their marijuana users and industries, so now we have the first ever working models for how a government might balance personal freedom with the public interest in this area. I think we use this model to discuss not just the future of marijuana policy, but also to think about government’s proper role in our personal lives more broadly, as well as federalism issues.
On Monday, I’ll open by briefly describing what CO and WA legalized in their two ballot initiatives, and then summarize what the regulations will do. Then, we can focus on whether we think this kind of legalization is the right kind and should/will be scaled up nationally. We can also tackle broader issues of government regulation of personal behavior.
Discussion Questions –
- What did WA and CO voters legalize in November 2012 and what did they leave illegal?
- What do their new marijuana regulations do? What do we know now about what will be legal/illegal in those states that we did not know from the language of the propositions?
- Is this the right balance between protecting individual freedom and the public interest, especially public health and protection of minors?
- What could go wrong? How will we know whether CO’s or WA’s legalization “works?”
- Do you want the legality of other vices to be controlled at the state level? Why/not?
- Public opinion is starting to turn on legalizing marijuana, led by young people.
- Some basic pro and cons of legalizing links – good ones – can be found here (okay) and here (better).
- The basics of what Colorado and Washington are doing, and why everyone is watching.
- Regulating marijuana is hard and tricky and risky, especially keeping the industry from becoming like Big Tobacco.
- Should we keep going down the road to legalizing pot?