Monday, April 18, 2016
As noted in this prior post, we here have the pleasure and honor of having Sam Kamin, the Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, provide reports and thoughts on-site from the The Cannabis Science and Policy Summit now going on in NYC. Here is his dispatch after the end of the summit's first day:
Some recurring themes today:
* It's easier to heavily regulate marijuana at the outset and then loosen the rules over time than to do the reverse. Loose regulations become entitlements and entrenched interests will fight like hell to keep them form disappearing. Andrew Freedman made the great point that once you have marijuana businesses complying with regulation, they'll be your allies when others want them weakened (because they benefit under the extant rules).
* Taxation should start relatively low (to kill the black market) and then ratchet up (or titrate, one of the words of the day) as legal marijuana is able to compete on price with the black market.
* Big marijuana is on everyone's mind and is the official boogeyman of the festivities. The 80/20 rule and its variants was invoked over and over. How to fix it? Government monopoly (at least on distribution), non-profit models, advertising bans, etc.
* A marijuana regulatory system should provide the amount of marijuana for which there is current demand; it shouldn't create new demand.
* We don't know much about interactions — with alcohol, with opiates, with tobacco — as we legalize marijuana. But those effects will be important if, as most people expect, legalization will lead to more marijuana usage. If it leads to less usage of other drugs, the harms are lessened; if other usage goes up or stays flat, increased marijuana usage is much more problematic.
* There is lots of concern about increased potency and I'm not sure it's warranted. High potency is not bad in itself; it means less smoking and that's a boon for health rather than a threat. Also, if we're talking about marijuana concentrates, the production process is incredibly dangerous if done at home, and if there's demand for concentrates, it probably makes sense to service that demand through a regulated market.