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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    View attachment 41732 In the heat of political debate, there's a tendency for supporters of cannabis legalisation to deny that anything could go wrong. But even if many of the harms are either entirely imaginary or grossly exaggerated, plenty are real and important. As we move toward legalisation, we should be alert to the problem of minimising the risks.

    For instance, it's foolish to deny that legalisation will likely increase the number of teenagers who start using heavily and add to the pool of adults who have problems controlling their marijuana use. The RAND Corporation estimate​s that legalisation - without extremely high taxes - could drop pre-tax cannabis prices to below 20 percent of current levels, and younger users - especially heavy smokers - are especially sensitive to prices. The number of marijuana users hasn't changed much over the past two decades, but the number of heavy consumers has soared up sevenfold from its low point in 1992.

    Supporters and opponents of cannabis legalisation agree on the importance of preventing an increase in underage use. The Department of Justice has asserted "preventing distribution to minors" as one of eight guideli​nes that states should follow in order to avoid federal intervention. But there's no reason to think that the policies proposed for keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors once it's legal for adults are up to the task.

    Authorities in Washington and Colorado appear determined to make it much more difficult for minors to buy store cannabis than it currently is for them to buy tobacco or alcohol. Historically, the laws against selling alcohol and tobacco to minors have been enforced only sporadically​, and it turns out that enforcing them more aggressively - for example, by sending undercover youth buyers into stores to attempt purchase without identification - can succeed in reducing underage drinking and its attendant harms. Both Colorado and Washington propose to apply that model to cannabis with special force, with more frequent inspections and stiffer penalties.

    But just enforcing the law against direct sales to minors can't meet the promises that governments have made to voters. When minors can't buy alcohol from stores, they "borrow" from their parents' supplies, find older friends or relatives willing to buy for them, or look for the drunk outside the liquor store willing to buy a case in return for keeping a couple of beers for himself. Store purchase accounts for only 10 percent of drinks consumed by minors; with tobacco, a bit more ​than half (53 percent) of past-month underage smokers bought from a store in that period. Why should we expect cannabis to be different?

    Indeed, it could well be worse. A pack of cigarettes is worth $5 to $10 in most places and weighs about an ounce; an ounce of cannabis - the legal purchase limit in Colorado and Washington - is worth 50 times as much and supplies even a heavy user for a week or more, while for a regular smoker a pack of cigarettes lasts less than a day. There are about a million daily marijuana users between 21 and 25 with annual incomes below $20,000. How many of them would turn to cannabis reselling - buying from a licensed store and then selling it to the underage - to help pay for their own use?

    Of course, there are ways to control diversion, but they're difficult and costly. Informal cannabis transactions are harder to detect because they're usually executed discreetly: 80 percent indoors, and a similar percentage among friends or family. How comfortable should we be handing out severe punishments for supplying marijuana to underage users when the suppliers are themselves teenagers?

    During the transition from illegal to legal marijuana markets, strictly illegal growers and sellers will be available as a back-up source of supply for underage users if leakage from the legal market is stopped. About a quarter of the $40 billion annual cannabis market involves sales to minors; that's a big chunk of revenue to leave in strictly illegal hands after legalisation.

    Given that minors will have access one way or another, it's probably safer that they get tested and labeled material from low-level and poorly-organized lawbreakers - the 22-year-old looming outside the dispensary, or maybe their friend's older brother - than to have them continue to be supplied by illegal growing organisations.

    Overall, then, while we should try to erect barriers against underage purchase, we should also expect those barriers to leak.

    So the key to preventing an upsurge in youth access with marijuana legalisation is the same as the key to preventing an upsurge in substance use disorder among adults: keep the prices high. With production costs likely to plummet, that will require either very high taxes - based on THC content rather than on purchase price, as in Colorado or Washington, or on the weight of the plant material, as recently passed in Oregon - or tight production quotas.

    You didn't really think this was going to be easy, did you?

    Mark Kleiman is Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Steven Davenport is a graduate student at the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. Through BOTEC Analysis Corporation, they provided advice to the Washington State Liquor Control Board on the implementation of Washington's legal cannabis market.

    By Mark Kleiman and Steven Davenport - Vice.com/Nov. 14, 2014
    Art: girl in headphones-drawingforkids.org
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Wanderer
    Here we go with another, "what about the children" arguments.

    This is the most intelligent thing she says in the article.

    Just like alcohol, kids will get it one way or another if sold openly and legally though licensed shops, just like alcohol. But it will be more controlled from the production side and quality control is important from a harm-reduction strategy.

    Also, marijuana has been called a "gateway drug" and this is probably due to people buying from a black market dealer are exposed to a whole wide array of other illicit drugs as well. That's the way the black market works. Eliminate the black market, and exposure to other illicit substances will be reduced because marijuana will be sold over the counter to adults of age. No other illicit substances will be available from a legitimate legal source, such as a cafe, or liquor store who has a license.

    Businesses with a license to sell legal marijuana will be discouraged from selling to minors due to the threat of losing their license, just as it is now with the sale of alcohol. Is it perfect? No. Does it work? Probably better than the uncontrolled black market who don't ask for ID before purchase. Businesses who can operate above board in the daylight want to stay in business than risk losing their license selling to underage customers.

    The existing model of how we control alcohol and either an establishment serving or selling to a minor risks losing their ability to stay in business. Likewise, there are stiff penalties for supplying alcohol to minor has stiff penalties associated with it now. This model works. Again, perfect? No. It's still better than maintaining an ongoing black market.

    Wrong, keeping prices high and increasing taxation creates a different black market we already see in the sale of cigarettes being hijacked in areas where the price and taxes are low and then re-sold in markets where prices and taxation are high. This is already happening and organized crime is already doing this, effectively creating a black market for otherwise legal goods with a lower price than through retail channels. This is no answer, as even adults of legal age buy from this sort of black market as we see happening in New York City with cigarettes.

    Yup, she's right though, no simple solution, but eventually things will work themselves out over time. She seems to be looking for problems where none really exist and focusing on too many "what if" scenarios.

    Be responsible...
  2. Joe-(5-HTP)
    I dunno, I thought this article was pretty good.

    It accepts that we are moving towards legalisation and says we should focus on harm reduction.

    It does talk about children, but only to suggest that of course minors will get access to drugs when they are legal, like they currently get access to alcohol despite it being age restricted.

    look at this quote:

  3. 5-HT2A
    Foolish because you have no evidence? Foolish because in legal weed states teen marijuana use is down somewhat? Foolish because the Dutch and Portuguese smoke less pot than Americans? Foolish because teenagers, who may lust after the thrill of getting away with something naughty, will feel that tendency less when a taboo is diminished? Wow, impressive.

    Interesting that they cite pre-tax prices, implying that weed will be cheaper than it is now. But with the taxes, how much will it cost? No one knows, and apparently that's the point, for the reader to totally disregard the fact that the author has, stupidly, just admitted that there will be taxes added on. But even if weed is only 80% the previous price, so what? Being able to buy a fraction of additional weed for x amount of money is not going to tip anyone into addiction who wasn't headed there already. The idea that young people are "sensitive" to prices because they have little money does absolutely nothing to demonstrate that they will be more likely to become addicted due to the price change, that is if a decrease manages to present itself at all.

    Even if that's the case, since legalization will do nothing to make the situation worse in this regard since drug dealers currently sell to anyone with the necessary cash, I'm sure the author won't mind admitting that this point is irrelevant.
    So once again, captain dipshit fails to realize that legalization would basically leave the situation unchanged at worst, that is IF his assertions are accurate to begin with. The survival of the black market in Colorado has mainly been linked to the high price of weed due to excessive taxes. So a sweet spot could likely diminish the black market quite a bit.

    LOL! As I said before, this is exactly what has proven ineffective. Excessively high taxes keep the black market alive because the illicit product is too much of a bargain.

    This analysis is all over the place! Good to know Vice has a sense of humor.

    Maybe the solution to this, instead of coming up with a new paranoid framework to demonize weed yet AGAIN, is to have a society in which parents and kids trust each other. Maybe if you quit treating this alienation from and antagonism towards the wishes of parents as universal, inevitable, pervasive, and uncontrollable, a more nuanced reality would emerge, one wherein treating your kids with respect at the same time you explain your wishes and values results in them being more likely to take you seriously in the first place. But no, instead of earning the respect of the children themselves in order to influence their behavior, we should ignore the potential that trusting relationships have to encourage healthy habits. AKA the same mistakes of the past. Derrrrrrrrrr. #authoritativeparenting
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