Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Economist Excerpts

Cannabis legalization :
  1. Libertarians may ask why cannabis, which has no known lethal dose, should be regulated at all for adults who can make free, informed decisions. 
  2. There are two reasons for care. First, cannabis appears to induce dependency in a minority of users, meaning the decision whether to light up is not a free one. 
  3. Second, cannabis's illegality means that the research on its long-term effects is hazy, so even the most informed decision is based on incomplete information. 
  4. When decisions are neither always free nor fully informed, the state is justified in steering consumers away, as it does from alcohol and tobacco.
  5. One model is the United States after Prohibition: alcohol taxes were set low at first, to drive out the bootleggers; later, with the Mafia gone, they were ramped up.
  6. Likewise, alluring packaging and products, such as cannabis sweets that would appeal to children, should be outlawed, just as many countries outlaw flavoured cigarettes and alcohol-spiked sweets.
  7. Advertising should be banned.
  8. A similar trade-off applies when determining what products to allow. Cannabis no longer means just joints. Legal entrepreneurs have cooked up pot-laced food and drink, reaching customers who might have avoided smoking the stuff. Ultra-strong "concentrates" are on offer to be inhaled or swallowed. Edibles and stronger strains help put the illegal dealers out of business, but they also risk encouraging more people to take the drug, and in stronger forms. The starting-point should be to legalise only what is already available on the black market. That would mean capping or taxing potency, much as spirits are taxed more steeply and are less available than beer. Again, the mix will vary. Europe may be able to ban concentrates. America already has a taste for them. If the product were outlawed there the mob would gladly step in.

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