Cannabis Consumption Limit: To Enforce or to ‘Nudge’? (Talking Drugs)

By EMILIO TORRINI | August 29, 2014


With the implementation of regulatory frameworks for recreational cannabis in Colorado, Washington and the pending introduction in Uruguay, one of the key issues that has arisen is how to control consumption. Professor Mark Kleiman propounds an interesting theory of how this could be experimented with in the future.

Washington and Colorado, who both began recreational sales this year, have no set monthly quota that marijuana buyers cannot exceed. Instead, both states have set limits on the amount that can be purchased at any one time at 28 grams. Conversely Uruguay, whose law is slated to come into force later this year or at the beginning of 2015, has set a monthly purchase limit at 40 grams.

Given the variation on purchase restrictions between models, a key question arises: What is the monthly, or indeed weekly, limit that consumers should be allowed to purchase that will best mitigate habitual use, or the development of chronic problems? Additionally, in the context where anyone over a set age can legally buy recreational marijuana without any maximum limit established by law, can the consumer be expected to self-regulate?

Mark Kleiman, a professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, explained in an editorial for the Washington Monthly earlier this year how the so-called “nudge theory” might be applied to cannabis consumption for models with no set upper limit.

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