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

Mark A.R. Kleiman 1
  • 1 Professor of Public Policy in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A
Mark A.R. Kleiman

Abstract

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.

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