COLORADO LEGALIZES RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA – LAW UPDATE
Amendment 64 allowing the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, regulating, and taxing it like alcohol, was approved on Tuesday night in Colorado 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent, with 1,863,535 votes or 66 percent of active voters.
Enforcement of the amendment will take another two weeks until the election is certified; in the meantime state criminal penalties still apply.
“This will be a complicated process but we intend to follow through,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
Officials in Washington declined to comment before Election Day on how the federal government would deal with the state law that conflicts with the federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal law prohibits the production, possession, and sale of marijuana and classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, putting it in the same category as LSD and heroin.
President Barack Obama has been leaning towards allowing the states to make their own laws on marijuana to free federal criminal resources.
Medical marijuana is already sold in dispensaries in Colorado. Recreational marijuana will be sold in stores slated to open in January 2014. The state Department of Revenue will oversee the stores and regulate the commercial marijuana industry.
The law will allow those 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at the regulated retail stores making possession legal but not public use. Adults will be able to grow up to six marijuana plants at home.
“This demonstrates that the people of Colorado are just as smart as we thought they were,” said Mason Tvert, one of the directors of Yes on 64 Campaign. “They were fed up with prohibition and decided they want a more sensible approach.”
More than 300 physicians in the state joined the campaign for legalization.
“As physicians, we have a professional obligation to do no harm,” Bruce Madison, former associate medical director of the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a statement. “But the truth is that the Colorado marijuana laws do just that, by wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed war on marijuana, by ruining thousands of lives by unnecessary arrest and incarceration, and by causing the deaths of hundreds of people killed in black-market criminal activities.”
The greatest harms associated with cannabis are not the effects of the drug but of our drug policies, said William Martin, director of the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program. “A kid can be tossed out of school or lose a college loan or scholarship. A parent can lose custody of a child or be barred from subsidized housing. And conviction for a drug offense, even a misdemeanor, can make it extremely difficult to land a job — forever.”
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