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Legalized marijuana changes state governments

November 14th, 2012

On Election Day Tuesday, citizens across the nation were watching history in the making. Not only did voters’ ballots have the candidates nominated for each political party, but in certain states and cities, issues and amendments were voted upon. Colorado and Washington passed ballot action legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana. This means the herb can be used recreationally, which is a monumental move in the drug policy of society today.

Marijuana in Washington and Colorado will now have the same treatment of tobacco and alcohol. State regulations will apply, and, eventually, in the long run, it could be taxed. Colorado and Washington are waiting to see if federal authority would enforce any drug laws.

Still, any pending misdemeanor cases of marijuana possession were dropped in all of Washington’s largest counties. As for Colorado, prosecutors are still reviewing their own pending cases for marijuana possession, because it is too soon to decide whether these cases should be dropped.

As for how the law exists right now, adults in Colorado are able to possess up to an ounce and six marijuana plants. This excludes the public use of driving while “intoxicated.” Commercial sales for marijuana in Colorado could be possible by 2014; and for now, lawmakers can write regulations on how it can be sold. In Washington, marijuana possession of an ounce or less is allowed. This could become legal on Dec. 6. In order for the measure to become legal, the measure must not be blocked, and it could take up to a year.

Federal response is the enemy for those who praise these new laws. Marijuana business owners are going to fear any response from the feds. The easement comes from Obama’s previous visits to several of the battleground states during the election. He made no mention about any marijuana laws and therefore many users of marijuana take this as consent for the legalization. The federal government has no more time to talk about marijuana legalization, as marijuana did get 50,000 more votes than Obama last Tuesday. In the end, the federal government still has the power to ultimately decide.

College students are all over the news about the new marijuana laws. A spokesman for the University of Washington said it won’t tolerate someone walking around campus smoking a blunt. Even though Colorado and Washington approved the legalization, college campuses won’t be welcoming of such products on their property.

The only thing the states can do is wait and hope the federal government doesn’t fight against it. Colorado and Washington are also going to have to fight to uphold their laws even on college campuses. As some officials described it, they do not want their education funded by “pot money.” In the end, supporters do have things to fear: the federal government and, for college students, campus policies. For now, residents will have to make do with what they have. Certainly, opponents will do all they can to minimize use.