Q&A: Mark Kleiman, UCLA expert on the legalization of marijuana (UCLA Newsroom)

By NIRAJ CHOKSHI | July 8, 2014

"Space Needle," a one-gram packet of recreational marijuana during packaging operations at Sea of Green Farms in Seattle.

“Space Needle,” a one-gram packet of recreational marijuana during packaging operations at Sea of Green Farms in Seattle.

Legal sales of recreational marijuana begin in Washington state Tuesday, just seven months after pot went on sale in Colorado. The two states are the first in the nation to regulate and allow sales of the drug for recreational use and, despite their differences, both regulate the new industry in broadly similar ways. Taxes are higher in Washington than in Colorado, and Colorado residents may grow limited amounts at home while Washingtonians cannot. But the differences are of degree, not kind: Both allow private sales of the drug while limiting the amount purchased per transaction and imposing relatively high taxes. But that’s not the only way to regulate marijuana.

To get one perspective on an alternative, Washington Post reporter Niraj Chokshi spoke with Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA and co-author of the book “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.” Kleiman specializes in, among other things, drug policy and his company, BOTEC Analysis, provided technical advice to Washington state regulators as they began creating rules for the new industry. Although his is just one view, it’s an informed and prominent one in the market of ideas.

What follows is an edited version of their interview. (Although BOTEC maintains a contract with the state, Kleiman notes he is free to discuss the state’s regulations.) This Q&A appeared in theWashington Post on July 8.

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