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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Firm Led By Renowned Drug Expert Selected As Washington Pot Consultant

Dartmouth College

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The apparent winner of a competition to become Washington’s marijuana consultant is a firm led by a renowned expert on drugs and drug policy. That’s according to an email sent Monday to the more than 100 bidders for the job. The official announcement is expected from Washington’s Liquor Control Board Tuesday morning.

Botec Analysis Corporation is a headed by Mark Kleiman – a professor of Public Policy at UCLA and editor of The Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Kleiman is also co-author of the recent book “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs To Know.” Kleiman’s firm has a history of providing advice to governments on drug policy and crime control. He declined to comment in advance of the Liquor Board’s announcement. But in a talk at Dartmouth College last fall Klieman was blunt about the costs of legalization.

“There’s a fantasy that we could legalize things and put very high taxes and tight regulations on them and have all the benefits of prohibition and none of the costs, but that’s an obvious fallacy,” he said.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board wants consulting help in four areas: marijuana industry knowledge, plant quality and testing, regulation and to the extent possible projection how many people will use pot now that it’s legal.

Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington led the ballot campaign to legalize pot. She praised the selection of Kleiman’s firm.

“He is not someone who comes in as a cheerleader for marijuana legalization. He is very frank and candid about his assessments of the potential risks of legalizing marijuana,” Holcomb said.

Those include concerns about the potential for increased use of marijuana by youth under age 21. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."