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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.And Kleiman, for his part, says edibles could be properly managed with strong regulations, some of which have been established in Colorado and Washington after several incidents, including Maureen Dowd's infamous New York Times op-ed, led to public outcry."It may be in the long run that eating it is safer," he said. And once you have a legal option, you know how much you're taking." Still, Kleiman said it will be a long time until the full effects of commercialization come to light.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.
But with marijuana still a hot-button political issue, not many legislatures are moving in that direction."We're seeing the expected level of marketing irresponsibility from the vendors, but they don't have much to sell at the moment," Kleiman says."When they've got something to sell, we'll see how aggressive they get." Sabet acknowledges that if cautious drug policy experts like Kleiman were singlehandedly in charge of setting up a regulatory model for legal marijuana, the concept would be less concerning.But even when Kleiman and others are consulted by states, their hands are somewhat tied by federal law and simplistic ballot initiatives.Part of the problem may be how states are choosing to legalize marijuana.But as more states consider whether to take on legalization, the rising industry has become the main target for opponents of legal pot."If we're not careful, the marijuana industry could quickly become the next Big Tobacco," warns the website for Grass Is Not Greener, a campaign launched by the anti-legalization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).In Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state, voters approved ballot initiatives for legalization.But when advocates put measures on the ballot, they try to keep the language of the initiatives simple to avoid scaring off voters and giving too much leeway to lawmakers who might disagree with what voters choose to do.Kevin Sabet, co-founder of SAM, says his biggest concern with legalization in Colorado and Washington so far "is the rise of a fairly large industry whose only objective is to increase profit." He explained, "Its only way to do that is to increase heavy use and irresponsible use.Remember the alcohol industry, the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry, they don't make a lot of money from the people who consume occasionally or now and again.