Pubdate: Thu, 09 Aug 2012
Source: Sacramento News & Review (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: David Downs


New Book and Three State Ballot Measures Tackle Pot Prohibition

This fall, three states-Colorado, Washington and Oregon-will vote on
different flavors of marijuana legalization, and the results could
potentially deliver a massive blow to the 75-year-old prohibition on
the drug in the United States.

And just in time for this national debate comes Marijuana
Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, co-authored by researcher
Beau Kilmer, who is the co-director of the Drug Policy Research
Center at the nonpartisan think tank RAND Corporation.

Kilmer researched and wrote the 266-page analysis with Carnegie Mellon
University public-policy professor Jonathan P. Caulkins, Pepperdine
University public-policy professor Angela Hawken, and UCLA
public-policy professor Mark A.R. Kleiman.

Drawing upon the latest empirical research and organized into 15
chapters based on frequently asked questions about cannabis
legalization, the book is an essential read and is destined to become
indispensable in the field of drug-policy research.

Kilmer recently spoke in Northern California and emphasized that drug
warriors and reformers need to define their terms when they talk about
"marijuana legalization." It's an idea that boasts a variety of
approaches, from national pot legalization with no limits on
possession, cultivation, manufacture, sales and marketing; to
incremental state-level reforms like "decriminalization"-the removal
of penalties for personal possession of pot.

"Definitions matter. The devil is in the details," Kilmer said.
"Legalization is more than a binary proposition. It's not just yes or

For example, Washington's ballot Initiative 502 would legalize weed
possession for adults over the age of 21 and set up a system to tax
and regulate its growth and sale. But the details have split the
marijuana-law-reform community in Washington, said Vivian McPeak,
organizer of the annual Seattle Hempfest, which attracts some 250,000

Just like with Proposition 19 in California in 2010, full-throttle
legalizers in Washington have allied with drug warriors to denounce
Initiative 502, noting that it criminalizes adults under 21 and
contains onerous provisions about driving with tetrahydrocannabinol in
one's system.

Sober drivers with any THC in their system will likely be imprisoned
under the initiative's zero-tolerance provision for those under 21.
The initiative also limits adults over 21 to 5 nanograms of THC per
milliliter of blood, a limit that critics note will likely imprison
some regular cannabis users who are driving sober, but still have
remnants of the drug in their bodies.

Much like smoking pot, the best way to experiment with legalization
may be to take one small puff, then wait a while and see how society
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