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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."

Joint Size Matters When Gauging Marijuana Usage

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Predicting marijuana usage rates in Washington might come down to a test Cheech and Chong would appreciate: the size of the joint. So says one of the state’s new pot legalization consultants.

There’s a classic Cheech and Chong scene where they smoke a massive joint while driving down the road. Cheech says “Looks like a quarter pounder, man.”

Turns out the amount of marijuana rolled into a joint is critical to determining pot usage rates. Just ask Dr. Beau Kilmer with the RAND Corporation. He’s one of Washington’s new pot consultants. His first task: to get a baseline on current marijuana use in Washington.

At a press conference in Olympia, Kilmer said he did similar work recently in the EU using a web-based survey.

“But it actually included pictures of unrolled joints of different sizes with a ruler and with credit cards with the idea being able to ask people ‘okay think about the last time that you consumed, how big was that joint?’" Kilmer said to laughter. "You laugh about it, but it’s a very important way of obtaining this information.”

Kilmer is part of a team that includes a Nobel Laureate, the first White House Drug Czar, and experts in testing and growing medical marijuana on an industrial scale.

On the Web:

I-502 Implementation - Washington Liquor Control Board

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."