Policy Expert Sees Marijuana Legalization "Five Years From Now"

Oct 28, 2013

A medical marijuana shop in Denver, Colorado.
Credit O'Dea / Creative Commons

Connecticut might have to prepare for an even larger role in marijuana regulation, if there's a federal decriminalization of the drug. The state itself is in the midst of implementing a law that allows for the production and dispensing of marijuana for medical purposes. 

"It looks to me as if we're going to be on the cusp of national legalization for non-medical use."
Mark Kleiman

A symposium at UConn Law School heard that legalization in other states -- Colorado and Washington -- could tip the scales on the federal level. Professor Mark Kleiman of UCLA said, "Five years from now, it looks to me as if we're going to be on the cusp of national legalization for non-medical use. The recent Gallup poll showing that over the past year, support for legal availability of cannabis has gone from just about 50/50 to 58 to 39 in support, suggests to me that this game is just about over."

Kleiman said the state should take responsibility to ensure legalization doesn't lead to higher levels of abuse, or to children getting hold of the drug. "You could leave production in private hands," he said. "Even at that point, I might want those producers to be not-for-profit consumer-owned co-ops, but require that all retail sales go through the state. That would have the advantage that the state could limit marketing activity by the producers as part of its vendor agreements."

Municipalities in Connecticut are currently deciding whether they want to host marijuana production or dispensing facilities when licenses are granted next year.

Below is an excerpt from a spring 2013 talk by Kleiman about the unknown effects of legalizing marijuana.