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Cooperative Enforcement Agreements and Policy Waivers: New Options for Federal Accommodation to State-Level Cannabis Legalization

  • Mark A.R. Kleiman EMAIL logo


Passage of marijuana-legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington poses a problem for the federal government: marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but the federal government lacks the capacity to fully enforce that law without state and local cooperation. Complete deference to state legalization would put each state’s cannabis policy at the mercy of its neighbors’. A system of legislatively-authorized policy waivers would allow controlled exploration of alternative systems of control. In the absence of such authorization, the executive branch could use existing authority to craft cooperative agreements with the states intended to confine the effects of each state’s new policies within its own borders.

  1. 1

    Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.

  2. 2

    21 U.S.C. Sec. 873 (a); thanks to Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation for bringing the significance of this section to my attention.

  3. 3

    See calculations in Caulkins and Bond (2012).


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Published Online: 2013-08-22

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston

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