April 20, 2015
12 Key People to Watch in Marijuana Policy
By John Hudak, Brookings Institution FIXGOV
Marijuana policy has emerged as a key issue in American politics, particularly over the past few years. The issue is being debated at local, state, and federal levels, and has captured the attention of media organizations and research institutions nationwide and around the world.
Navigating the policy terrain and understanding what is happening in this fast-paced, dynamic, and changing arena is often tough. Knowing who is influential can be even more difficult. Because of the expansive nature of the policy conversation there are hundreds of key players making a difference—on both sides of this issue—and that list is seemingly ever growing.
In this post, I list 12 people who each bring something interesting to the table and may play an important role in the future of this policy area. They may not be the most important, though surely some of the people on this list could be considered so. Nor is this list ranked in order of importance or impact. Instead, it offers a brief overview of how these 12 individuals may help shape the future of cannabis policy. . . .
7 Rob Patridge, Chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission
Patridge is Oregon’s top marijuana regulator and will help develop the legal and regulatory system for the Beaver State. He has pushed his agency to engage the public heavily during the process. Patridge’s Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has organized statewide listening tours, offers transparent online communication systems, and posts official meetings and hearings online in an effort to keep the public informed. In many ways, Patridge and the OLCC have set the standard for public inclusion in post-legalization deliberations around the implementation of recreational marijuana.
Patridge is proceeding with implementation in the face of a few unique challenges. The recent resignation of Governor Kitzhaber and unrelated removal of OLCC’s top marijuana policy advisor have brought added uncertainty to an already difficult policy area. Oregon is also the first legalizing state to share a border with another state with legal marijuana (Washington), and while interstate marijuana commerce remains illegal federally, interstate market pressures—influenced in large part by regulatory choices in each state—can have serious consequences for the legal market. In addition, Patridge will oversee the implementation of recreational marijuana as the state continues with reforms to its existing medical marijuana program—a process that has created concerns in the marijuana patient advocacy community.
Like his colleague in Alaska, Patridge’s efforts in these early days of American legalization will likely have a substantial influence on what future marijuana policy looks like in other states. . . .