A Policy Professor, a Pot Executive and a Mary Jane Hater Form a Club: Washington’s New Advisory Board

rickst A Policy Professor, a Pot Executive and a Mary Jane Hater Form a Club: Washington’s New Advisory BoardThis past week Washington has been keen to advertise their progress in the new dawn of legal marijuana sales in the state. Even though the bill was passed last year, legalizing recreational marijuana up to an ounce per 21+ aged consenting adult, the method of gaining these supposed legal goods is still difficult - and no wonder. It isn’t easy setting up a massive pot industry from scratch. First off there’s the figures to calculate, projected usage, how many growers are needed, how the drug will be taxed, implications on road laws...the list is endless. So where should an overwhelmed state ready for a major reconstruction of their Liquor Control Board turn? How about to a UCLA professor on public policy coupled with a former top executive for the sole licensed provider of marijuana in the only place in the world right now capable of maintaining a healthy, relatively safe marijuana trade - The Netherlands. Add a few think-tanks on public health and you’ve got a recipe for success - as the state sees it. “These are, by far, the top consultants available,” Randy Simmons, an overseer for the Washington Control board quoted. “We’re serious about doing this the right way.”   While the state currently only has plans in the works to grow enough for itself, they need to be extremely cautious about making sure once the product is offered, it can be kept in stock. When a substance becomes short in supply, or pricey as a result of its shortage, the first place it flourishes is the black market, or illegal venues. This mishap would be exactly the opposite of the state’s intended agenda, which cited legalizing marijuana as key in part of an ongoing safety and security war against gang violence. And yet supply and demand may be trickier than simply having enough when it comes to marijuana sales. Growing in excess of legalized state’s needs could launch the overflow into other, less pot-friendly states, causing the need for complicated cross-border control systems and other costly legal ramifications. These matters, on top of the laboratory based research and infrastructure it will take to manufacture and validate the drug for sale, are making this a bigger task than anyone had fully imagined.   But Washington - in particular the leaders of its new advisory board = aren’t daunted. Mark Kleiman, head of a 30-year old think-tank called BOTEC - back of the envelope calculation - has been dealing with how difficult drugs fit into society for some time now. In the 1990’s BOTEC was behind the Lynn Massachusetts heroin crack-down, where they advised public health agencies and worked with community based organizations to provide drug-reduction programs. Kleiman is a stance advocate against the legalization of marijuana, and was even caught before last year’s historic votes in Washington and Colorado saying that there was “no way on earth the federal government is going to tolerate” marijuana legalization,” and that “we’d see massive federal busts of California growers and retail dealers, no matter how legal their activity was under state law” in the future more likely than we would warmly welcomed grow-ops. Now one of the chief thinkers behind governing how this exact same substance will be legally sold and distributed, voters who supported the legalization bill were at first skeptical of his commitment to the mission, and yet, it would seem that officials may have backed Kleiman’s firm in a display of how invested they are in having a fully functional, morally proper industry underway.   Alison Holcomb, author of the bill passed last year, says she supports Kleiman’s efforts and stated that this selection on the board of advisors gives the message that the state takes its responsibility seriously. Taking the matter seriously could also include more comical measures, such as online surveys for Washington cannabis users to estimate how much of the drug will be needed. Questions for the test will range from daily cannabis intake to how large each individual joint rolled is, even showing an image of a credit card and ruler so survey takers can get a sense of scale. It seems those that have gone forward with fully legalizing Mary Jane are intent on a future involving well run, well stocked, state level industries. So prepare yourself Washington users, it’s finally time to size up your smoke.

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