The New York Times has shined a bright light on the national marijuana outlook with its recent six-part editorial series that started with a call by the paper’s Editorial Board to repeal the federal ban on weed.
The reporting and commentary capped off with “Rules for the marijuana market,” published Aug. 4 — a close look at what will be the foundation for the new national establishment: state regulation.
And here’s what needs to happen, as summarized by Vikas Bajaj, who covers business and international economics for the Times’ Editorial Board:
Beyond keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, a good regulatory system has to limit the increase in drug abuse that is likely to accompany lower prices and greater availability after legalization. It should protect consumers from both dangerous and counterfeit products, reducing the physical risk from a psychoactive substance. And a well-regulated system should undermine and eventually eliminate the black market for marijuana, which has done great damage to society.
How will that come to fruition? Bajaj says it starts with avoiding past mistakes that came after the repeal of alcohol prohibition. Altering states’ taxes will be another key component.
The high taxes established by Colorado and Washington for their recreational marijuana sales will help offset an increase in abuse, according to Bajaj. But as legal marijuana becomes more widely established and prices eventually drop, the tax system will need to change for states to continue to benefit. As Bajaj posits, a better way to tax marijuana would be based on the THC potency of the product.
What other regulations will be critical? Controlling the marketing of marijuana, particularly to young consumers, and also separating the production of marijuana from the retail sector, according to Bajaj.