Washington officials are expected to announce Tuesday that they have hired the nation's first marijuana consultant: a corporation run by a gentleman who once called the very kind of legalization Washington is pursuing a "pipe dream."
According to the Medical Marijuana Business Daily, the company is Botech Analysis Corporation, which does consulting work for state and local governments on a range of issues, usually focusing on how a government program is impacting a local population. Botech is led by Mark Kleiman, a policy analyst and UCLA professor who authored the books, "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know" and "Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control."
Kleiman's company is a surprising choice for Washington, given that he declared in 2010 that marijuana regulation and taxation at the state level is impossible. "There's one problem with legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis at the state level: It can't be done," he wrote for The Los Angeles Times. "The federal Controlled Substances Act makes it a felony to grow or sell cannabis. California can repeal its own marijuana laws, leaving enforcement to the feds. But it can't legalize a federal felony. Therefore, any grower or seller paying California taxes on marijuana sales or filing pot-related California regulatory paperwork would be confessing, in writing, to multiple federal crimes. And that won't happen."
Despite again calling state-by-state legalization "a pipe dream," Kleiman went on to say that legalization is not "a terrible idea" so long as it is done on a "non-commercial (grow-your-own or consumers' co-op) basis rather than creating a multibillion-dollar industry full of profit-driven firms trying to encourage as much cannabis use as possible."
The selection of Botech is not quite official, the Business Daily noted: the company is as of yet just the "apparent successful proposer," and certification of their contract has not yet happened. Once it does though, Botech Analysis Corp. will be the nation's first legal marijuana consultant, providing advice to Washington's Liquor Control Board on how marijuana should be regulated in the state.
It's not yet clear how the Obama administration will react to Washington and Colorado's new marijuana laws, which voters passed last November, legalizing the use, possession and sales of marijuana. It is possible that Washington officials saw Botech as the least controversial choice out of hundreds of avid marijuana enthusiasts who applied, but it's not clear what effect Kleiman may have on whatever regulations are ultimately rolled out.
Washington officials are expected to announce Botech's selection at a televised press conference set for 10 a.m. PST.