Last week King County, Washington, Sheriff John Urquhart, speaking at a conference in California, alternated between praising his state's approach to marijuana legalization and conceding that implementation has been more than a little bumpy. His overall message: Things are great, and it will all work out in the end. In my latest Forbes column, I explore the reasons for such ambivalence. Here is how it starts:
Next week voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., will decide whether to legalize marijuana. If they look for guidance to the two states that took that step in 2012, they will see a situation in Colorado that falls far short of the cannabis catastrophe predicted by prohibitionists. The legal industry is thriving, although it has not entirely displaced the black market yet, and marijuana-related problems are minimal so far, although controversy swirls around issues such as regulation of edibles and restrictions on consumption. If voters contemplating legalization turn their attention to Washington, which has been plagued by regulatory delays and uncertainty, there are lessons to be learned there too, but they mostly concern what not to do.