An expert panel warned Tuesday that legalizing marijuana in just one state could drive down prices and encourage more people to use the drug, according to the Los Angeles Times. The panel was sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.
Voters in Oregon, Colorado and Washington will consider ballot measures in November that could legalize marijuana, the article notes.
“Legalization is unprecedented—not even the Netherlands has done it—it is entirely possible it will happen this year,” said Jonathan Caulkins, co-author of “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know,” and a professor at Carnegie Mellon. He said the effects would be “enormous.”
If marijuana is legalized in one or more states, the price collapse in those states could make it more difficult to enforce marijuana laws nationally, the experts said. Caulkins added that under Colorado’s measure, it would be fairly easy for residents to obtain a grower’s license. “They would be able to provide marijuana to New York state markets at one quarter of the current price,” he said, and added that similar price declines would be seen in other states.
Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, said if any of the measures pass, federal officials should “sit down with the governor of the state and say, ‘Look, we can make your life completely miserable—and we will—unless you figure out a way to avoid the exports.” The states could impose strict limits on how much marijuana retailers could sell to each customer, he added.
The Washington state measure would create a strong system of regulations that would be designed to prop up prices. Caulkins observed that if the federal government struck down the regulations, the result could be a free-for-all. “The federal government will face some really difficult choices where actions are like double-edged swords,” he said.