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Is a "Grow Your Own" Marijuana Policy Better Than Legalization?

Submitted by smorgan on
Mark Kleiman has an interesting post observing the rapidly evolving political climate surrounding marijuana policy reform. He points to recent polling data and observes correctly that we're entering new territory in terms of public attitudes and political opportunities.

Of course, this is a Mark Kleiman post, so there's guaranteed to be something in there that I can't quite wrap my head around. Kleiman condemns the alcohol model, which he says "would provide a strong incentive for the marketing effort to aim at creating and maintaining addiction." He estimates that rates of marijuana addiction would double if it were sold like alcohol, so he proposes this instead:

So I continue to favor a "grow your own" policy, under which it would be legal to grow, possess, and use cannabis and to give it away, but illegal to sell it. Of course there would be sales, and law enforcement agencies would properly mostly ignore those sales. But there wouldn't be billboards.

That beautifully-crafted policy has only two major defects that I'm aware of: it wouldn't create tax revenue, and no one but me supports it…

Well, I'd favor this over our current policy without hesitation, but is Kleiman serious that he only sees two significant flaws in his plan? What about the fact that marijuana would still be sold by criminals? It's the biggest cash crop in America and its distribution (absent for medical use in some states) occurs exclusively on the black market. Even under a "grow your own" model, marijuana entrepreneurs will proliferate. And when their door gets smashed down in the middle of the night, they still won’t know if it's an armed robbery or the DEA. People will still get shot and killed over an otherwise completely non-lethal drug.

Can anything be done about that, Mark?

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