States' Pot Legalization: The National Impact
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A panel of drug experts is warning that completely legalizing marijuana in just one state could cause snowballing consequences that government officials may not have adequately prepared for. Oregon, Colorado and Washington are the three states that will vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana; the panel believes that legalization would lead to a sharp decrease in the price of the drug, perhaps dropping to as little as one-quarter of its current value. That would encourage more people to use it, they say, undermining national marijuana laws. In addition, Colorado’s proposition would allow residents to obtain a grower’s license fairly easily, making the state a great home for exporters of pot. “They would be able to provide marijuana to New York state markets at one quarter of the current price,” says Jonathan Caulkins, co-author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. “The federal government will face some really difficult choices where actions are like double-edged swords.” Obama's administration still opposes legalizing marijuana, and has taken action to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and California. But some on the panel think a sit-down between federal officials and the governor of Colorado is vital in order to anticipate the problems if the state legalizes pot. "[I would] sit down with the governor of the state and say, 'Look, we can make your life completely miserable—and we will—unless you figure out a way to avoid the exports,” says sometime Fix contributor Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA.