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Applying a wine model to marijuana

Applying a wine model to marijuana

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If a wine model is used for marijuana legalization, consumers would be able to grow their own pot or buy it from a government store. (Anthony Bolante/Reuters)

Malmo-Levine also favours using a system similar to what Canada has in place for wine, at least initially, for marijuana legalization.

He says parents would be able to set the rules over their teenage children’s use and, as with wine, there would be no monopoly on production or sales. People would be able to grow their own marijuana, the same way they can make their own wine at home or at a commercial operation.

Kleiman sees some problems with the wine model. He wants liquor boards to “take a much broader view of the public interest and hold themselves accountable for the total damage done by alcohol, both drunken misbehaviour and the health consequences of heavy drinking.

“And I think that applies to cannabis as well.”

He’s against “a purely commercial market in cannabis, like the one we now have with alcohol,” because he expects it would result in the same pathologies. “I would much rather have people grow their own or form co-ops or get it from a state monopoly, where the people in charge won’t have a strong vested interest in fostering addiction.”

He recommends Canada allow private cultivation, but require that growers only sell their cannabis to the government retailer. That idea sounds like the old Canadian Wheat Board.

The advantage of this approach, Kleiman says, is the state can keep control of the marketing effort and hinder “the development of an economically and politically powerful industry that then can’t be moved, like the existing beer industry.”

He lists off some more advice. “You want to keep the price high, you want to keep the marketing down, you want to make sure that consumers know what they’re getting, not just in the sense of knowing what the chemistry is, but knowing what the likely effect is, so I’d want to have very strong vendor training in place.”

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