Don't worry about a federal lawsuit. But do worry about tax rates. Those are among the many lessons Colorado and Washington have to share from the front lines of America's marijuana experiment.
LESSON ONE: DON'T BE TIMID
Public officials in the pioneering marijuana states were flat-footed when voters made pot legal.
first waiting for a possible federal lawsuit, then trying to figure out
how to monitor and tax a product that had never been fully regulated
anywhere in the world, the states spent many months coming up with rules
for how the drug should be grown, sold and consumed.
were understandable. But they led to one of the biggest disappointments
of the marijuana markets - lower-than-hoped tax collections.
LESSON TWO: DON'T GET TOO EXCITED, EITHER
Colorado and Washington have seen tax collections fall below some rosy
projections. The effective tax rates are about 44 percent in Washington
and 29 percent in Colorado, with plenty of asterisks and local
The states assumed that pot users would pay a steep
premium to stop using drug dealers and have clean, safe stores in which
to buy their weed. But the tax rates have led to a continuing black
market, undercutting the top argument for legalizing in the first place.
of delays for permitting and licensing meant that potential pot taxes
went uncollected. And limited marijuana supply in both states has
further driven up the price of legal weed.
LESSON THREE: THINK OUTSIDE THE BONG
users these days aren't using the drug the same way hippies in the
1960s did. But Colorado and Washington weren't entirely prepared to deal
with popular new forms of edible and concentrated weed.
It took more than 18 months for Washington to begin sales of edible pot.
had regulations for edible pot already in place from the medical market
- but it stumbled, too, when the edibles proved a lot more popular than
officials expected and many first-timers weren't sure how much to eat.
Colorado has had to go back after the fact to tighten rules on edible pot packaging and dosing.
LESSON FOUR: THINK ABOUT THE KIDS
It's an obvious consequence of legalization - wider availability for adults means easier access for kids.
districts in both Colorado and Washington have reported more kids
showing up at school with weed. There have been more kids treated at
emergency room for marijuana ingestions, too.
isn't fatal, but the experience so far in both states underscores the
need for states to have plans for talking with minors about pot.
LESSON FIVE: THE THIN GREEN LINE
Law enforcement has a big role in reducing potential public safety effects of legalization.
that legalize pot need a plan in place for how officers determine
whether drivers are impaired by marijuana. After legalization, simply
sniffing pot in a car or seeing a joint on the seat isn't enough to haul
someone to jail.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer
is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes
mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum –
reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal
with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited
for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer
as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause
havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with
DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a
seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.