Considering Marijuana Legalization

Legalizing marijuana is controversial and multifaceted issue that is now the subject of serious debate. Since 2012, four US states have passed a ballot initiative to remove the ban and legalize the commercial marijuana industry for-profit. Voters in Washington, DC, took a more limited step through initiatives to Legalize production houses and private property. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to experiment with national legalization. In May 2014, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law that required the Secretary of Administration to provide a report on the consequences of legalizing marijuana. This report is made to the Secretary of Administration in response to the legislation.

This report does not make recommendations about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws. The goal is to inform, not sway, discussions about the future of cannabis policy in Vermont and other jurisdictions to consider alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition.

The main message of this report is that marijuana policy should not be seen as a binary choice between prohibition and for-profit commercial model that we see in Colorado and Washington. Legalization may include various regimes, differentiated along at least four dimensions: types of organizations that are allowed to administer the medicine, the rules in which organizations operate, the nature of the product that can be distributed, and the price. This choice could have major consequences for the health and social welfare, as well as job creation and government revenues.

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