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If Seattle has welcomed the legalization of marijuana with utopian optimism—a conviction that Washington’s experiment will eventually sweep the nation—then Kleiman can seem like a total downer.
His friend Phil Heymann, a professor at Harvard Law School, recalls having lunch with Kleiman at a university cafeteria.
Kleiman launched into an impromptu analysis of the arrangement of the buffet tables and the traffic patterns of his fellow-diners, riffing on the optimal layout for the efficient allocation and consumption of lunch.
Kleiman’s campaign used to seem quixotic, but in November, 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado passed initiatives legalizing the use and commercial sale of marijuana.
Immediately afterward, the State of Washington decided that it needed help setting up a pot economy.
Portugal has eliminated criminal sanctions on all forms of drug use, but selling narcotics remains a crime.
Washington and Colorado are not merely decriminalizing adult possession and use of cannabis; they are creating a legal market for the drug that will be overseen by the state.A few years ago, Holmes stopped prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana-possession cases. The law, which was sixty-four pages long and contained hundreds of specific provisions, assigned the liquor-control board the role of regulating the pot market. The legislation gave Washington officials only a year to come up with answers.Yet many difficult questions remained: Who would be allowed to grow legal marijuana? Randy Simmons, the state’s project manager for I-502, says, “From the week after the initiative passed, it’s been about a hundred and fifty miles an hour.”The liquor-control board instructed Kleiman and his associates at to submit research papers outlining the advantages and disadvantages of rival approaches to legalization.“The illicit market is a paper tiger,” he concluded.“But a paper tiger doesn’t fall over until you push it.”As an undergraduate at Haverford, Kleiman was a triple major in political science, economics, and philosophy, and he readily concedes that he analyzes things to death.In a further complication, the marijuana that is legal in these states will remain illegal in the eyes of the federal government, because the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 forbids the growing and selling of cannabis.“What the state is doing, in actuality, is issuing licenses to commit a felony,” Kleiman says.The council meeting took place at City Hall, a glass-and-steel building overlooking Puget Sound. a legal commercial market is run,” Kleiman allowed. To support the legal market, Kleiman argued, the state must intensify law-enforcement pressure on people who refuse to play by the new rules.Council members sat around a long table, looking scrubbed and upbeat, as Kleiman—a large man of sixty-two, with a lumbering gait and an unruly gray beard—took a seat before a microphone. “In the long run, there shouldn’t be much of an illegal business. A street dealer will have to be arrested in the hope that “you will migrate that dealer’s customers into the taxed-and-regulated market.”Officials in Washington had been expecting a peace dividend, yet Kleiman was calling for a crackdown.State bureaucrats don’t generally sit around pondering the improbable, so they had made no contingency plans. Kleiman assembled a team that beat out more than a hundred other contenders for the job.He calls himself a “policy entrepreneur,” and offers advice through a consultancy that he runs, stands for Back of the Envelope Calculation.