WASHINGTON - On Monday, respected policy think tank The Brookings Institution published a paper analyzing Washington’s implementation of the law passed in 2012 to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The results: the state is doing well and is actively trying to learn from the process. The results could have far-reaching implications for marijuana policy reform in other states.
Brookings’ Philip Wallach interviewed advocates, researchers, and government policymakers in Washington to learn about the state’s novel approach. In this report, he highlights several noteworthy features:
*Building a funding source for research directly into the law: a portion of the excise tax revenues from marijuana sales will fund research on the reform’s effects and on how its social costs can be effectively mitigated.
*Bringing to bear many perspectives on legalization by coordinating research efforts across multiple state agencies, including the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Health, and the Liquor Control Board.
*Mandating a cost-benefit analysis by the state’s in-house think tank, which will be nearly unprecedented in its scope and duration.
*Wallach makes a number of suggestions to ensure that Washington’s knowledge experiment can be made to work, including Ensure political independence for researchers, both by pressuring politicians to allow them to do their work and by encouraging the researchers themselves to refrain from making political recommendations
*Gather and translate research into forms usable by policymakers
*Counter misinformation with claims of confident uncertainty
*Have realistic expectations about the timeline for empirical learning, which means cultivating patience over the next few years
*Specify which reliable metrics would indicate success or failure of legalization
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the original story can be found here: http://www.brookings.edu/research/r...-3ZPyCMplQ6RehapRAuUD0QrFXZQUQ&_hsmi=13917917.
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)/ August 31, 2014
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