I’m not certain that the title of Marijuana Czar will stick but to look at the bearded Mark Kleiman, a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and recent pick to spearhead Washington’s recreational marijuana industry, he certainly looks the part. Minus the suit, this guy looks like Peter the Great or any of a number former Russian Czars.


His team, however, is more reminiscent of one put together by the clean shaved Charles Francis Xavier of comic book fame played by Patrick Stewart. The “THC-Men” if you will. You have a mix of academics and industry. The academics or the instructors at this “School for Gifted Young Mutants” will include Harvard criminal justice policy expert Mark Moore, Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling and Richard Nixon’s former drug czar Jerome H. Jaffe. I’m going to go with Mr. Jaffe as the one playing the role of Beast.

The Mutants? Luigi Zamarra, the accountant who fought the IRS tooth and nail preventing it from closing the nation’s largest pot dispensary, Harborside Health. Rose Habib, a chemist with four years’ experience infusing cannabis in beverages and foods; lab owner David Lampach the labeling and packaging expert; as well as consultants for NMS Labs one of the companies used by the Drug Enforcement Agency to test marijuana.

Regardless of what your personal stance on the full legalization of marijuana, the reason I say coolest job ever is that is has no precedent. Washington State is obligated by law to implement this policy by December 1st of this year. The people spoke by referendum. Who wouldn’t want a job that has no precedent? It is quite tough to get fired from one of those.

The appointment of Mark Kleiman and his semi-disheveled appearance will certainly provide fodder for those who disagree with the legalization policy enacted by Washington voters. However, the point is Mr. Kleiman has a huge job ahead of him with no guarantee that he will not face prosecution for it at a federal level.

“We’ve been telling each other for 30 years that we know how to do drug policy right,” Kleiman said. “And now we get our chance to find out if we’re right.”

Kleiman’s team will be providing advice to the Washington Liquor Control Board on the four issues that need addressing most: pricing, quality control, harvesting, and regulation. It is no easy task.

“You don’t want the price to be so high that it generates a black market inside the state,” Kleiman said. “You don’t want the price to be so low that it generates an export black market.”

Washington State has earmarked $100,000 for this consulting job but Kleiman and his team, the Botec Analysis Corporation, have agreed to work for $292 an hour.

Ok. So Marijuana in Washington will cost $292 an ounce. Good to know.