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Author Topic: Correspondence with Mark Kleiman  (Read 2456 times)
kurtfifelski
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« on: November 23, 2014, 08:01:09 AM »

I emailed Mark Kleiman about a blog-post he had yesterday, he responded. He said in a later email that it was okay for me share this.

Dr. Kleiman,

I don't know if you're aware of this, but right now you are one of the most cited authors in the college policy debate as our topic is partially about the legalization of marijuana. One argument that is often made is that legalization would be bad because it would destroy the underground market that many communities rely on for survival, and that those same communities would be unable to participate in a regulated environment because of prior convictions or because they are not citizens. Another argument, which is forwarded by Michelle Alexander [http://www.alternet.org/drugs/michelle-alexander-white-men-get-rich-legal-pot-black-men-stay-prison], and others, is about how the motives of legalization are flawed because they gloss over the racist legacy surrounding marijuana policy. Have you written any responses to similar criticisms, or do you have any thoughts on them in general? Also, are you aware of sources that might refute some of these arguments?

Thank you for taking the time to read this email, and for your prolific writing style.


Kurt Fifelski

-----

Dear Mr. Fifelski:
Thanks for writing. In my view, the illicit cannabis market, the enforcement attention it attracts. and the people it
beckons to a life of illegal activity rather than on-­books-­work are a big net burden to the African American
community, far outstripping the benefits of the income generated by lawbreaking. So, on the supply side, I think
legalization would be a clear gain for African-­Americans. On the other hand, the damage that might be done in
those same communities if cannabis were to become even cheaper and cannabis dependency more prevalent
might be large. So for me the question is how to design a legal regime that doesn't result in a large price drop.
I'm afraid I don't get any nourishment out of discussions of motives. Policies have outcomes largely independent
of the intentions behind them.
Mark Kleiman
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