Friday, August 10, 2012

Regulating marijuana is complicated, continued

Yesterday's post provided examples of the importance of regulations when it comes to drug policy.  The recently published paperback, "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know", includes a section entitled, "What special regulations could apply to legal marijuana?"  It brings up many questions that have yet to be part of any discussion about marijuana legalization.

If I-502 is approved by Washington voters in November, the Liquor Control Board will have one year to develop a regulatory system for commercial marijuana growing, production, and sale.  Just a few examples of what would need to be considered are:

-- The potency and mix of psychoactive ingredients in marijuana.  The Liquor Control Board limits the potency of alcohol.  Would they put similar limits on the potency of marijuana?

-- The form in which marijuana can be sold.  The Liquor Control Board limits the sale of "alcopops" that appeal to youth.  Would they put similar limits on marijuana brownies that appeal to youth?  How about beverages containing THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana)?

-- Requirements for testing and accurate labeling of marijuana products.

Other state agencies would need to make rules about how to enforce new laws, such as a ban on individuals growing their own marijuana.  Not to mention public smoking laws -- would smoking marijuana in public be restricted like tobacco smoking?

Taking into account how difficult it has been for the Washington legislature to agree on how to best regulate medical marijuana, and the process involved with the Liquor Control Board creating regulations for the private distribution and sale of liquor under I-1183, the implementation of I-502 would be a long and contentious process.  Is this how Washingtonians want to spend the next few years, arguing over new laws and regulations instead of focusing on the pressing issues already before us?

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