An outspoken man named Mark Kleiman is the subject of a gripping piece in The New Yorker, “Buzzkill,” by Patrick Radden Keefe, TCF senior fellow.

But Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, doesn’t just work in any policy space. He specializes in drug policy. “Finally,” as I’m sure he has thought, Kleiman’s area of expertise is not just the niche domain of the DEA and kingpins anymore.

The pot economy is fast becoming a viable one.

The case for pot as a legitimate business will be made at a compelling new event, “The Green Rush,” hosted by TCF, with commentary from Keefe and Michael Shtender-Auerbach of Privateer, a private equity fund that invests in the cannabis economy.

The “green rush” is a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the “gold rush” of the 1850s. But instead of panning for gold, investors are now hoping to get rich off a market not currently recognized by the federal government. And that’s a problem for vendors in Colorado and Washington, where cannabis has been legalized at the state level.

So, back to Kleiman. The clash of federal versus state legislation aside, the “illicit pot” market, according to Keefe, “will not simply vanish.” Street dealers and over-the-counter dispensaries will initially compete for clientele, making the landscape tough to navigate, indeed.

As Kleiman wrote in a blog post, “All the claims we’ve made over the years about knowing how to make smart drug policy are about to be put to the test.” He is one of many voices spearheading attempts to manage the competing interests in this well-funded reefer madness.

As pot prohibition slowly evaporates across the country, drug policy trailblazers like Kleiman will need to take the first hit in building a legal marijuana economy from scratch.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Please bring your own lunch and join us for the first installment of our Intern Policy Forum Series!

The Century Foundation, One Whitehall Street, 15th Floor, New York, New York 10004