The Future of Legal Marijuana

In the United States, there are currently four states where it is legal for adults to use marijuana recreationally, including Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon. As more states are expected to follow in 2016, the existing programs must be evaluated so that states considering legalization can learn from past mistakes. This week, a group of government officials meets in Washington State to discuss how well marijuana legalization is working, the Associated Press reports.

Data Collection

Both Washington and Colorado voted in favor of legalization in 2012. Since the laws went into effect, the states have been tracking and analyzing data to determine the costs and benefits of legalization, the article reports. They are evaluating data on marijuana-involved traffic stops, admissions to addiction treatment centers, and marijuana-related poison center calls in Washington.

In Colorado, the data being tracked includes:

  • Poison Control Calls
  • Marijuana-Related School Suspensions
  • Impaired Driving Cases
  • Marijuana-Related Hospital Visits

The Convention

Sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America and the Washington state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the conference will host officials from a half-dozen U.S. states and a few countries. The event organizers believe they need to take a close look at the data being collected and determine the areas where more research is needed.

“The real purpose … is to be sure we’re doing the best we can to evaluate the impacts,” said John Walsh, with the Washington Office on Latin America. “We want to learn from the pioneers for the pioneers, but be more systematic about what we know and what we still need to learn so the jurisdictions that are coming next can avoid mistakes and do an even better job.”

In Attendance

Naturally, the four states where marijuana has been legalized will be in attendance and states where legalization is expected, such as Vermont and California. According to the article, the only country that has legalized marijuana outright is Uruguay, and delegates from their country will be at the conference. Government officials from Jamaica, Mexico, and Colombia are also attending the conference.

Looking Ahead

This story will be interesting to follow in the coming months concerning how states handle the end of marijuana prohibition. Conferences like the one taking place this week will probably prove invaluable on an international level.

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