As Washington’s recreational marijuana market prepares to get underway, the man responsible for assisting the state’s Liquor Control Board in developing pot policies has revealed some concerns.
In a recent article published in the Washington Monthly, University of California Los Angeles public policy professor Mark Kleiman writes that while a great deal of Washingtonians associate legal marijuana with high prices, he fears the market will not charge a substantial enough rate.
“Producing anything legally is much cheaper than producing anything illegally,” said Kleiman in a recent interview with KPLU. “It’s heavily taxed as a percentage of the retail price, compared to shoes. But whether that’s a heavy tax per gram of cannabis depends on what the retail price is.”
Kleiman speculates the production of a single gram of marijuana is poised to cost in the neighborhood of 50 cents once the market steadies. He worries, however, that the potential for retail pot prices to drop down below the black market will create a frenzy of elevated marijuana use, one he believes can only be controlled by keeping the price of weed out of commoners reach.
“The main bad outcome from cannabis legalization, the only one that I think matters, is an increase in heavy use, and particularly heavy use among minors,” said Kleiman. “The strongest policy level to prevent additional drug abuse is to keep prices up.”
Interestingly, Kleiman’s article also brandishes fear that relaxed attitudes and advertising across commercial airwaves will encourage the youth to consume more marijuana. He argues that although local liquor store owners are not responsible for discouraging people from drinking and driving, he believes the cannabis industry may need to consider staffing experienced pharmacologists to help educate stoners about the risks involved at the point-of-sale.
“Cannabis is, after all, a somewhat dangerous drug, and both much more complex chemically and less familiar culturally than beer or wine.”
Kleiman adds that legalizing marijuana on a state-by-state basis is riddled with problems, and that only after a distinct national policy is in place, which he admits is “slim to none,” will there exist the potential for a successful market.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.