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Washington State Chooses Mark Kleiman Firm as Marijuana Consultant

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #776)
Drug War Issues

The state of Washington has chosen its official marijuana consultant as it marches boldly forward toward implementing the voters' decision to legalize marijuana at the polls last November. The State Liquor Control Board, which is charged with overseeing the nascent legal marijuana business, announced Monday that it had selected a Massachusetts-based firm headed by academic drug policy analyst Mark Kleiman.

Mark Kleiman ( via
The firm, Botec Analysis Corporation, has been in existence since the mid-1980s and has won contracts to evaluate government programs and done consulting on drugs, crime, and public health. Botec advised the Office of National Drug Control Policy on demand reduction programs in the early 1990s and has studied efforts to suppress heroin dealing in Lynn, Massachusetts, among other projects.

Kleiman, a professor public policy at UCLA, has written a number of books on drug and criminal justice policy, including coauthorship of last year's primer, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Some of his stands over the years, including the contention that states couldn't legalize marijuana because the federal government wouldn't allow it, have irked drug reformers, and some reacted with skepticism to news of the appointment.

Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, told the Associated Press Kleiman needed to answer some questions. "You might ask him if he's either changed his mind or if he intends to advise the state on undermining the will of the voters," Angell said. Kleiman in turn responded on his blog.

The Liquor Control board sifted through more than 90 applications for the consultant position, and Botec outscored all comers. At this point, the decision is provisional; rejected applicants can challenge the selection, but if no one challenges or any such challenges fail, Botec is it.

Botec's job will be to advise the state on how build a newly legal industry from scratch. That's going to include such nuts-and-bolts issues on how many growers and retail outlets there should be, how products should be packaged, testing requirements, and even store hours of operation.

Meanwhile, all parties concerned are waiting for the federal shoe to drop. Stay tuned. This is going to be interesting.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Rookie (not verified)

Wow, what a surprise, This man is a total Prohibitionist and is a paid consultant of the Federal Government. He will apprise the Feds and ask how they want it done. This program is now failed, dead, over. I would not be surprised anyone registering with the State for any aspects of this program are not immediately turned over to the Feds.. Good Luck people.. you have been sold out by the Government once again..

Thu, 03/21/2013 - 8:39am Permalink

Kleiman is one of the few people qualified to advise such a board, because he was one of the few outspoken non-ideologues on the subject. Nobody can make an accusation stick that he has an agenda, yet he was willing to take seriously the economics of this subject when other economists and wonks generally couldn't take it seriously.
Thu, 03/21/2013 - 10:19pm Permalink
Don E Boi (not verified)

The voters of the state of Washington were the ones who forced this legislation thru.  The legislature itself was too weak to accomplish what should have been done 40 years ago.  Legislatures, not just Washington State, but all states and national legislatures, have such an unrealistic view of their duties that nothing gets properly done for people themselves--that's why the PEOPLE of Washington State and Colorado were forced to do what the legislatures should have done.  It is clear that the PEOPLE across the nation as a whole, want this legislation yet it is being blocked by a small minority of -- who?  Minorities that have some vested interest in keeping it illegal.  The religious right, cigarette companies, liquor companies, agencies in the US government, and police each has their own vested interest no matter how clear the wishes of the people of the states.  Even now that marijuana is legalized in the State of Washington, the police, in general, are still hostile to marijuana and marijuana users.  The cigarette companies, naturally, will view marijuana as competition, at least till they can get their paws on the packaging of it, and hopefully, a virtual monopoly too.  The liquor companies likewise.  The religious right, who knows?  they simply want to control everyone's morals.  US agencies?  Well now, who was it exactly that was importing cocaine in diplomatic pouches, and who was it that brought the stuff into Mena, Arkansas in the 1980s by the plane load?  Keeping cocaine illegal keeps the price high for our secret agencies to make a lot of money for themselves.  The police now, are a special case.  In testing candidates for police, the candidate cannot have too high an intelligence, and cannot have a democratic personality.  The personality of police must be to obey which is a third grade mentality (just as Nazi Germany), do not think, and to follow the propaganda line as a religion. 


The Federal government has a legal interest, however, there is still the issue of states rights where the Feds have the legal opportunity to tax when items cross state borders, they cannot tax when items do not cross state borders.  See the issue with cigarettes in states that grow tobacco and liquor when it crosses borders. 


The problem here is not just about marijuana, it's a far more general problem, the problem of vested interests controlling legislatures and not doing the will of the people.  So now we will end up, probably, with large corporations being allowed to grow marijuana, becoming another large vested interest controlling the legislature.  The Wobblies had a saying:  "If voting worked, it would be illegal".  Of course voting doesn't work, else the legislatures would have been chosen to do what the people want done. 


Now in the time of little money, the state, the city and county governments are doing everything they can to get money for their programs, some of which should be shown the door.  Keeping drugs illegal is one way of controlling people and getting their money.  Anyone who denies that this is a great deal of the problem, is part of the problem because they are lying to themselves and everyone else, besides likely having a vested interest in controlling people and getting their money.  Why is it, for instance, that so many prisons are being built and privatized? 


In the coming society, pleasure will necessarily become legal--will it be taxed?  Some should and some should not.  Hiking and fishing, for instance, are pleasures that are legal, a fishing liscence needed for most fishing but hiking not yet totally taxed, nor a liscence to hike needed at this time.  There are many other pleasures that are similar.  Other pleasures, for instance, tobacco and liquor, are taxed and dangerous at least to some degree and now marijuana.  Other pleasures, for instance, sky diving and scuba diving are not yet taxed but must be considered somewhat dangerous, at least to the person doing these activities.  Driving a car on booze, most everyone would agree is too dangerous to allow (a drunk killed my mother), should it be allowed that a person could be drunk skiing or sky diving or skin diving?   Some drugs make persons more attentive, coffee, tea, cocaine and some others are this way.  The point is that drugs in general should be legalized, taxed, and definite rules be instituted for their safe usage. 


Stop pretending that our government will ever do anything right.  Stop vested interests from controlling our legislatures and take a healthy dose of reality pills.

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 8:25pm Permalink

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