While the debate rages for and against legalizing marijuana, there's also a debate about how to legalize it, if that's the direction chosen.
In Canada, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's call for legalization has spurred the discussions, while in the United States, it's Colorado and Washington moving in that direction and Alaskans voting next year on doing so.
Internationally, Uruguay is close to becoming the first country to legalize pot, although in most countries it was legal until some time in the 20th century.
Eleven years ago today, a Senate committee issued a major report recommending that Canada legalize marijuana, as well as explaining how to go about it.
"Whether or not an individual uses marijuana should be a personal choice that is not subject to criminal penalties, but we have come to the conclusion that, as a drug, it should be regulated by the state much as we do for wine and beer," committee chairman Pierre Claude Nolin said at the time.
Eleven years later, the Conservative Senator tells CBC News he still stands by his committee's report. "The public is already there," Nolin observes, adding that the challenge is with the politicians.
Washington, Colorado experiment with legalization
Since then, Liberal governments twice took steps on changing marijuana laws (which went nowhere), while Colorado and Washington voters opted to legalize recreational marijuana use.
In March, Washington state named UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman its marijuana guru. He sees an advantage for Canada "to hang back and see how the experiment comes out" in the two states.
But not for long. "We'll know a lot more two years from now than we know now about the risks and benefits," he tells CBC News. Kleiman does not think "legalization is going to be any screaming triumph."
David Malmo-Levine, one of Canada's best-known pot activists, says legalization will be easy. "The right way to legalize marijuana is to focus on the legitimate concerns of harm from misuse of marijuana and of excluding people from the market."
The harms he has in mind are impaired driving and health problems from substandard, mouldy or contaminated cannabis.
Decriminalization not a recommended route
Nolin, Kleiman and Malmo-Levine all say that decriminalization as an interim measure is not the route to take toward legalization.
Even though he notes that about 60,000 Canadians face possession charges every year, Nolin says "I would keep the bad system we have, keeping in mind we must change it."
"We're kidding ourselves with decriminalization, because we're keeping it illegal" he argues, and that makes it more difficult to prevent problematic use.
Decriminalization would be equivalent to prohibition of alcohol in the 20th century and Kleiman notes that certainly wasn't a success.
He also says decriminalization would do nothing to get rid of the illicit market, have very little impact on consumption or address the issue "about people getting products that are completely untested, unlabelled, with no idea about what's actually in them."
"I'm not sure inching in through decriminalization matters one way or the other," he argues.
Malmo-Levine, who has studied the international record, says "decriminalization is worse than nothing at all." His view is that "harmless people don't need to be harmed less, they need to stop being harmed."
Applying a wine model to marijuana
Malmo-Levine also favours using a system similar to what Canada has in place for wine, at least initially, for marijuana legalization.
He says parents would be able to set the rules over their teenage children's use and, as with wine, there would be no monopoly on production or sales. People would be able to grow their own marijuana, the same way they can make their own wine at home or at a commercial operation.
Kleiman sees some problems with the wine model. He wants liquor boards to "take a much broader view of the public interest and hold themselves accountable for the total damage done by alcohol, both drunken misbehaviour and the health consequences of heavy drinking.
"And I think that applies to cannabis as well."
He's against "a purely commercial market in cannabis, like the one we now have with alcohol," because he expects it would result in the same pathologies. "I would much rather have people grow their own or form co-ops or get it from a state monopoly, where the people in charge won't have a strong vested interest in fostering addiction."
He recommends Canada allow private cultivation, but require that growers only sell their cannabis to the government retailer. That idea sounds like the old Canadian Wheat Board.
The advantage of this approach, Kleiman says, is the state can keep control of the marketing effort and hinder "the development of an economically and politically powerful industry that then can't be moved, like the existing beer industry."
He lists off some more advice. "You want to keep the price high, you want to keep the marketing down, you want to make sure that consumers know what they're getting, not just in the sense of knowing what the chemistry is, but knowing what the likely effect is, so I'd want to have very strong vendor training in place."
A binding quota for pot users
Kleiman also recommends requiring marijuana consumers to set a binding quota for how much they can buy each month, though they would be able to revise their quota with a month's notice.
"Cannabis is not a bad habit for most people who use it, any more than food is but ... we shouldn't have a laissez-faire approach towards selling it" because a limited number of people will have their bad habits run away with them.
Kleiman and Malmo-Levine both stress the need for a system of quality control, both for impurities such as pesticide residues and mould, and for the active agents in the cannabis. That requires testing and labelling.
As he did in the 2002 Senate report, Nolin today recommends that as a first step toward legalization the prime minister should appoint a special envoy on marijuana (and all psychoactive substances) who would join the Privy Council Office and convene a conference of key stakeholders. Canada should also seek amendments to United Nations conventions and treaties governing illegal drugs.
As for legislation, in the words of the report, it "should stipulate the conditions for obtaining licences as well as for producing and selling cannabis; criminal penalties for illegal trafficking and export; and the preservation of criminal penalties for all activities falling outside the scope of the exemption scheme" for cannabis.
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he has had his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/28/rob-ford-marijuana-wynne_n_3831389.html" target="_blank">fair share of marijuana</a>. "Oh, yeah. I've smoked a lot of it."
The federal Liberal leader opened up to HuffPost about his experience with marijuana in August. "Sometimes, I guess, I have gotten a buzz, but other times no. I’m not really crazy about it.”
The Opposition leader's office told HuffPost this summer that Mulcair <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/22/justin-trudeau-marijuana-peter-mackay_n_3797481.html" target="_blank">has smoked in the past</a> but not since he was elected to office. Mulcair was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec in 1994.
Said the <a href="http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n506/a09.html" target="_blank">Tory finance minister</a>: "Yeah, in my teenage years... a couple of times, I have to admit: I didn’t like it."
The Liberal MP and Canada's first astronaut said he tried marijuana as a <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Politics/Power+%26+Politics/ID/2402495133/" target="_blank">student in the 1970s in England. </a> "It's not my thing. I stopped because it wasn't doing anything for me."
The premier of Ontario said she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/28/kathleen-wynne-marijuana-pot_n_3830736.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics" target="_blank">smoked pot decades ago</a>. "I have smoked marijuana but not for the last 35 years."
Said the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/29/darrell-dexter-marijuana-pot_n_3837009.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics" target="_blank">premier of Nova Scotia</a>: "Like every other person I knew back in the '70s when I went to university, some of whom are actually in this room, I would have tried it, the same as other people at that time."
Said the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/01/christy-clark-marijuana-use-pot_n_1469321.html" target="_blank">premier of British Columbia</a>: "I graduated from Burnaby South Senior Secondary in 1983 and there was a lot of that going on when I was in high school and I didn't avoid it all together."
The leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario admitted he's <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/08/18/hudak_admits_to_smoking_pot.html" target="_blank">puffed in the past.</a> "I was a normal kid, I had a normal upbringing, a normal life in university. I experimented from time to time with marijuana. It’s a long time ago in the past and in the grand scheme of things."
The former prime minister of Canada <a href="http://www.ctvnews.ca/" target="_blank">told CTV News</a>: "The answer is: I never smoked. I never smoked anything, but there was an earlier time, years ago, when (my wife) made some brownies and they did have a strange taste."
The former prime minister admitted while running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives that <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/08/22/chris-selley-trudeau-pot-revelation-underscores-one-of-his-few-actual-policy-positions/" target="_blank">she tried weed.</a> "And I inhaled the smoke."
Said the former NDP leader: "Yes, and some might say I never exhaled."
The former premier of Ontario said he <a href="http://www.cfdp.ca/cita99.htm" target="_blank">experimented in his teens</a>, but only twice.
The premier of Saskatchewan said he was an <a href="http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=f23471e8-be96-46cf-9c1f-b43d5c497cdd" target="_blank">"infrequent" user back in university.</a> "It didn't really do anything for me, luckily, because for some, it does lead to other things."
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The rapper's 18-year-old son, Corde Calvin Broadus, caused a stir when he <a href="http://www.digitalspy.com/celebrity/i435058-16/twitterinstagram-pics-of-2012-snoop-dogg-and-son-corde-calvin-broadus.html">shared this photo of him</a> smoking with his famous weed-loving dad.
Soulja Boy, Wiz Khalifa
Is that smoke, or a new Instagram filter? Soulja Boy<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/soulja-boy-wiz-khalifa-smoke-up-photo_n_2402221.html"> tweeted a photo </a>of what appears to be him and pal Wiz Khalifa smoking out a giant bong on Jan. 3.
"Oh don't worry," Brown wrote on this <a href="http://instagram.com/p/SzQdSKPpVR/">Instagram photo </a>he shared in December, from Amsterdam. "It's medicinal!! Lol."
<a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/06/kristen-stewart-responds-critics-shit-eaters-vanity-fair">In a 2012 Vanity Fair article</a>, Stewart addressed the photos taken of her smoking out of a pipe in 2008. "You can Google my name and one of the first things that comes up is images of me sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe with my ex-boyfriend and my dog," she said. "I was a kid. I had just turned 18. In [the tabloids] the next day it was like I was a delinquent slimy idiot, whereas I’m kind of a weirdo, creative Valley Girl who smokes pot. Big deal.”
Dressing up as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/02/rihanna-topless-singer-post-halloween-lok_n_2066153.html">"The Bride of Mary Jane"</a> (get it?) for Halloween wasn't enough. Rihanna shared this controversial picture at the start of the New Year, with the caption: "This nug look like a skull or am I just....?"
A video of <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2010/12/10/miley-cyrus-video-bong-hit-smoking-salvia-herb-pyschedelic-birthday-party-hannah-montana/">Miley Cyrus partying with a bong </a>just after her 18th birthday became instant tabloid fodder when it hit the internet in 2010. Her reps say that she was actually smoking the herb salvia.
Yup. That's Olympic Gold medalist <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/swimming/news/story?id=3876804">Michael Phelps smoking out of a bong</a>, published in the now-defunct British rag News of the World in 2009.
Lady Gaga smoked a spliff onstage at a concert in -- duh -- Amsterdam. About marijuana, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/lady-gaga-weed-singer-wondrous-marijuana_n_1897486.html">she told the audience</a>: "I want you to know it has totally changed my life and I've really cut down on drinking. It has been a totally spiritual experience for me with my music."
Last week, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/05/justin-bieber-smoking-pot-photos-emerge-teen-star-partying_n_2415401.html">photos emerged </a>of what appears to be Bieber smoking marijuana inside a Newport Beach hotel room on Jan. 2. "Everyday growing and learning. trying to be better. u get knocked down, u get up," Bieber tweeted not long after the reports trickled through. "Back on tour tomorrow. ready to see u all smile. time to do what im supposed to be doing. performing. #BELIEVEtour."
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President Barack Obama has admitted to smoking marijuana and using cocaine <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/09/us/politics/09obama.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0">during his high school and college days</a>. "When I was a kid, I inhaled often," <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/24/world/americas/24iht-dems.3272493.html">he once told magazine editors, according to The New York Times</a>. "That was the point."
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' use of LSD in his younger days is well-documented. He once called the experience <a href="http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/10/24/Steve-Jobs-10-Revealing-Quotes-from-His-Biography.aspx#zqEbfO6jmqxtvYKB.99">"one of the most important things in my life."</a> His use of the drug was even noted in an <a href="http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-02/10/steve-jobs-fbi">FBI background check</a>, according to Wired.
President Bill Clinton famously admitted to trying marijuana while completing his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford. "When I was in England I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it," <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/30/us/the-1992-campaign-new-york-clinton-admits-experiment-with-marijuana-in-1960-s.html?gwh=B1648339901F9BBAADA0D9EC8C030343">The New York Times reported in 1992</a>. "I didn’t inhale it, and never tried it again.”
Virgin Group chairman and founder <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/06/opinion/branson-end-war-on-drugs">Richard Branson is an outspoken advocate of marijuana legilization</a>, once writing an op-ed for CNN that called for an end to the war on drugs. He reportedly asked <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74111.html">President Obama during a White House visit if he could "have a spliff"</a> in 2012. "They didn't have any," he added.
New York City Mayor and Bloomberg L.P. founder Michael Bloomberg found himself in hot water when he admitted to smoking marijuana back in 2002, The New York Times reports. When asked by a reporter if he had ever tried pot, he responded: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/10/nyregion/bloomberg-says-he-regrets-marijuana-remarks.html">"You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."</a>
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner credits his use of marijuana later in life with changing his perspective on sex. "I didn't know what making love was all about for all those years," Hefner <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2010/11/23/hugh-hefner-talks-monogomy-miley-cyrus-marijuana/">who supports legalization</a> is quoted as saying in <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/High-In-America-Politics-Marijuana/dp/0670119903">High In America: The True Story Behind NORML</a></em>. <a href="http://www.druglibrary.org/special/anderson/highinamerica8.htm">"Smoking helped put me in touch with the realm of the senses."</a>
Billionaire investor George Soros is a known supporter of marijuana legalization and even wrote a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed rather straight-forwardly entitled <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303467004575574450703567656.html">"Why I Support Legal Marijuana."</a> His <a href="http://www.aim.org/special-report/the-hidden-soros-agenda-drugs-money-the-media-and-political-power/">use of the drug may be far less proflific</a>, however. He told Reuters in 1997 that while he had "enjoyed" trying marijuana, <a href="http://www.mpp.org/outreach/top-50-marijuana-users-list.html">"it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years."</a>
Jimmy Cayne, former CEO of Bear Stearns, kept an<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/wall-street-cocaine-stories-2012-7?op=1"> antacid bottle full of cocaine</a> in his desk, according to the book <a href="http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Sellout.html?id=Jq030Cp_SjQC">The Sellout</a>.
The former vice presidential candidate and reality TV star told Anchorage Daily News back in 2006 that she couldn't <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/29/politics/politico/thecrypt/main4397109.shtml">"claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled,”</a> CBS News reports.
Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft, hinted at once using LSD and marijuana in a <a href="http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Bill.Gates.html">1994 interview with Playboy</a>. Likewise, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Gates-Microsofts-Reinvented-Industry-Himself/dp/0671880748">biographer Stephen Manes</a> wrote that "<a href="http://www.mpp.org/outreach/top-50-marijuana-users-list.html">Gates was certainly not unusual there</a> [around drugs]. Marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice…”
Former Ronald Reagan economic adviser and current CNBC host Larry Kudlow is reported to have both smoked marijuana and <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2000/nov/29/workandcareers.madeleinebunting">used cocaine frequently</a> at periods in his life. After being fired from Bear Sterns in the mid-1990s, <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=bOQCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&dq=kudlow+cocaine&ei=VCR0S9XdEpG2NJDq0bsE&cd=1#v=twopage&q&f=true">Kudlow entered a rehabilitation program to deal with his cocaine addiction</a>, according to New York Magazine.
Super model Naomi Campbell <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7018893/site/todayshow/ns/today-entertainment/t/naomi-campbell-say-she-nearly-self-destructed-because-cocaine/#.USU_XVo6VOg">admitted in 2005 to abusing cocaine during her career</a>. "I have admitted using illegal drugs and some years ago I recognised that I had a problem" <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-99840/Naomi-confesses-drug-abuse.html#ixzz2LTfhOeI6">she was quoted as saying in The Daily Mail.</a> "I knew that it was wrong and had damaged me and I decided to try and sort myself out."
Peter Lewis, former CEO of Progressive Insurance, has both <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2012/04/20/high-roller-how-billionaire-peter-lewis-is-bankrolling-marijuana-legalization/">smoked marijuana and lobbied heavily for its legalization</a>. After smoking weed recreationally in his youth, he started using it medicinally after his leg was amputated. “<a href="http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2012/07/16/medical-marijuana-question-thank-78-year-billionaire-insurance-executive/">I was very glad I had marijuana,"</a> he told Boston Magazine. "It didn’t exactly eliminate the pain, but it made the pain tolerable — and it let me avoid those heavy-duty narcotic pain relievers that leave you incapacitated.”
Former California Governor and all around legend Arnold Schwarzenegger can be seen smoking marijuana in the 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron." He later said that he <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-207_162-529462.html">"did smoke a joint and I did inhale,"</a> CBS News reports.
In a 2009 lawsuit, it was alleged that Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff frequently sent messengers to buy cocaine for <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1221984/Fraudster-Bernie-Madoff-cocaine-office-dubbed-North-Pole.html">"himself and the company."</a> Actually, before Madoff's $60 billion Ponzi scheme fell apart, his office was known as <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-10-22/justice/madoff.lawsuit_1_bernie-madoff-kpmg-jp-morgan-chase?_s=PM:CRIME">"the North Pole"</a> because of the allegedly excessive cocaine use during work hours, according to CNN.
Essayist and author Aldous Huxley is said to have experimented with hallucinogenics, even writing an account of his use of mescaline in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/10-celebrity-lsd-users_n_1440786.html">"The Doors Of Perception."</a>
Former Vice President and climate change activist Al Gore is rumored to have smoked marijuana often in college. However, Gore characterized his marijuana use as <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/feb/07/uselections2000.usa">"infrequent and rare,"</a> according to The Guardian.
Best-selling author Maya Angelou reportedly <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=uVEK3f8ojJUC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=maya+angelou+marijuana+use&source=bl&ots=iiUM7k5Uqw&sig=BlWCUSUqUIHOokcdjr3kA2GVrjg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BHouUbW_FYm-9QSPooHABw&ved=0CFAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=maya%20angelou%20marijuana%20use&f=false">"settled into a job as a waitress and began smoking marijuana with abandon"</a> early in her life, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Angelou-Blooms-BioCritiques-Cindy-Dyson/dp/0791061779">according to a biography by Harold Bloom and Cindy Dyson</a>.
CNN founder and Atlanta Braves owner <a href="http://coedmagazine.com/2009/02/06/the-10-most-successful-potheads-on-the-planet-cool-enough-to-admit-it/">Ted Turner is rumored</a> to have grown pot in his college dorm room, according to COED Magazine (he's reportedly also a major donor to the Kentucky Hemp Museum). After banning cigarette smoking at CNN in the early '90s, a memo emerged that claimed it <a href="http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2024271877.html">"was common knowledge that Turner sits in his office and smokes marijuana."</a>
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas smoked marijuana <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/11/us/thomas-smoked-marijuana-but-retains-bush-support.html">"several times"</a> in college, White House spokesman Judy Smith said back in 1991.
Nobel Prize-winning chemist <a href="http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/01/70015?currentPage=all">Kary Mullis credited much of his success to his use of LSD</a>, according to Wired.
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"I have done just about every drug possible: cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and, my favorite, heroin." [The Mirror, 1996]
"I didn't live my life in the right way for politics, you know. I fucked too many chicks and did too many drugs, and that's the truth. That's gonna be my campaign slogan: 'I drank the bong water.'" [Newsweek, 2011]
<em>On smoking a joint to calm herself before winning her 1991 Oscar for "Ghost":</em> "Smoking cigarettes and pot every now and then are my habits. And so I thought, 'I've got to relax.' So I smoked this wonderful joint that was the last of my homegrown. And honey, when [Denzel Washington] said my name and I popped up, I thought, 'Oh, fuck.'"
"I mean, I still love a waterfall or the odd hallucinogenic drug. I liked mushrooms, which were legal until a year or so ago. If I had a drug of choice, it would be magic mushrooms." [The Guardian, 2007]