Legalization Approaches

Sam Kamin and Joel Warner cover Colorado’s preparations:

Colorado policymakers briefly considered a state-run program, similar to systems in New Hampshire and other states that manage their own liquor stores. This approach had several benefits. For one thing, studies show that state-run alcohol programs, thanks to their lack of targeted advertising and price competition, lead to significantly less spirit and wine consumption than free-market programs. For another, a state-run dispensary model would allow the state to reap the profits of marijuana sales, rather than just levying taxes and fees.

But even if a state-run marijuana program were theoretically the best approach, it came with a major problem: It would put Colorado in direct conflict with the federal government. It’s one thing to permit and even license a substance that’s against federal law; it’s something else entirely to require state employees, as part of their job, to violate that law.

Masket wonders what the feds will do:

The Obama administration has given the impression that it won’t interfere if the state seems to be running things professionally and the place hasn’t turned into a giant Grateful Dead concert. But what if the feds are unhappy with the way things are going after a year? And what will a new president’s attitude be come 2017?