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There are many, many layers to marijuana laws and legalization.There are still major questions about the risks of teen use, whether marijuana really needs to be rescheduled to allow research into its medical use, and how legalization will ultimately affect rates of drug use.But as more states consider whether to take on legalization, the rising industry has become the main target for opponents of legal pot.
But groups like SAM appear to have settled on a prominent target in their anti-legalization efforts: the marijuana industry.
The big concern is that the drive for profit could encourage inappropriate marketing that leads to increased drug abuse.
They're making money from the heavy users." Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at New York University's Marron Institute who supports a much more regulated form of legalization, has consistently pointed to the commercialization of marijuana as one of his primary concerns with the current model of legalization.
Marijuana companies' "best customers are the problem users," Kleiman said in a previous interview.
"There's a bunch of stuff you could do," Kleiman said, "but that stuff is hard to do by initiative." The obvious alternative is state legislatures could pass their own marijuana legalization laws.
But with marijuana still a hot-button political issue, not many legislatures are moving in that direction.
Although retail sales have technically been underway in Colorado since January, the recreational industry as a whole still deals in much higher prices than the medical side.
Kleiman expects that to come down over time as the recreational industry builds capacity, and then the full effects of commercialization will begin to show.
An April report from the RAND Drug Policy Research Center suggested that state governments could monopolize sales and sell marijuana through state-run shops.
The report found that states that did this with alcohol kept prices higher, reduced access of alcohol to youth, and reduced overall levels of use.