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Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot

Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot

By: Philip A. Wallach

Voters in Washington state decided in November 2012 to legalize marijuana in their state, inspired by a campaign that emphasized minimizing the drug’s social costs and tightly controlling the legal recreational market. Joined to this drug policy experiment is a second innovative experiment that emphasizes knowledge: the state will fund and develop tools necessary to understand the impact of legalization on Washington’s law enforcement officials, communities, and public health.

This second reform, though less heralded than the attention-grabbing fact of legalization, is in many ways just as bold. Washington’s government is taking its role as a laboratory of democracy very seriously, tuning up its laboratory equipment and devoting resources to tracking its experiment in an unusually meticulous way, with lessons that extend well beyond drug policy.
“Regulators, like the lay public, will think more clearly about an issue when they are informed by a steady stream of relatively rigorous data and findings.”

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