Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

The Basics
Voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for adults in 2012. Legal retail sales started in Colorado in January 2014.
Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana in December 2013.
There is more public support for reform than ever before with new polls showing more than half the country is in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana.
Countries that have adopted less punitive policies did not experience an increase in marijuana consumption or marijuana-related harm relative to more punitive countries.
Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system that taxes and regulates use for adults over 21 would yield $14 billion in combined annual savings and tax revenues.
Marijuana should be removed from the criminal justice system and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.
 
Legalizing and regulating marijuana will bring the nation's largest cash crop under the rule of law, creating jobs and economic opportunities in the formal economy instead of the illicit market. Scarce law enforcement resources that could be better used to protect public safety would be preserved while reducing corrections and court costs. State and local governments would acquire significant new sources of tax revenue from regulating marijuana sales. 
 
The criminalization of marijuana use disproportionately harms young people and people of color, sponsors massive levels of violence and corruption, and fails to curb youth access.

Marijuana Product Standardization and Testing

Marijuana product testing is becoming a standard requirement for legalized marijuana markets. This allows consumers to become better informed about the cannabinoid profile and potency of marijuana they consume. While universally accepted standards have not been established for testing, consumers should consider requesting information on any pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, or any other residual solvents that could remain on flowers after the cultivation process.
 
Testing for mold, fungus, bacteria, and other microbial organisms should be required to ensure safety and quality, as the effects of consuming some of these chemicals, especially in the immunocompromised, could be significant.  Flowers and other cannabis products sold to consumers should include cannabinoid profiles, including the content of THC, CBD and other major cannabinoids, and the number and concentration of doses in a product. This is especially important for edible products, which can contain widely varying doses of cannabis.  Consumers should be sure to inquire about the potency and dosage of an edible product, especially if they are a novice consumer or if the package is not clearly labeled.

Our Commitment to Legalizing Marijuana for Adults

The Drug Policy Alliance advocates marijuana legalization through a well-regulated market for marijuana production and distribution. We seek to enact change on the state and federal level through ongoing legislative efforts and through high-profile ballot initiatives in upcoming election cycles. DPA helped lead the historic campaign in 2010 to support Proposition 19 in California.  In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states -- and the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world -- to approve measures legalizing and regulating marijuana similar to alcohol. DPA worked closely with local and national allies to draft these initiatives, build coalitions and raise funds. Similarly, DPA was deeply involved in the campaign to regulate marijuana in Uruguay, collaborating with local civil society organizations. Uruguay became the first country to legally regulate marijuana in December 2013.
 
DPA will play a similar role in upcoming campaign cycles in 2014 and beyond. We are engaged in building an unprecedented coalition that includes organized labor, civil rights groups, parents, and law enforcement.
 
DPA is also working to build support nationwide for ending prohibition by playing a key role in sparking and sustaining the national dialogue around marijuana legalization, and serving as a national thought leader for viable alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies.  DPA staff advise elected officials, regulators, and other advocates on available options and their implications for state and local governments. 
 
We aggressively engage the media to ensure the dissemination of sound, accurate information about the harms of prohibition and the benefits of viable alternatives.

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