There’s more than one way to legalize marijuana (Washington Post)

By NIRAJ CHOKSHI | July 8, 2014

Cloned marijuana plants at the Sea of Green Farms growing facility in Seattle. (Jason Redmond/Reuters)

Cloned marijuana plants at the Sea of Green Farms growing facility in Seattle. (Jason Redmond/Reuters)

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, we spoke with Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Los Angeles. 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 our interview discussing Washington’s system and Kleiman’s views on how marijuana should, in an ideal world, be regulated. (Although BOTEC maintains a contract with the state, Kleiman notes he is free to discuss the state’s regulations.)

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