On Nov. 6, 2012, Barack Obama was reelected as President, and Washington and Colorado residents voted to legalize recreational pot. However, a similar measure failed in Oregon, with only 43% of the vote.
Washington earned the distinction of being the first state to call marijuana legalization a success; voters approved Measure 502 by a 10 point margin: 55.5% to 44.5%.
The measure will permit state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults over 21 can purchase up to one ounce of dried marijuana. The law also establishes a standard blood test to enforce restrictions on driving while stoned. Tax revenues may reach $2 billion over five years, which will go to fund education, health care, substance abuse prevention, and other basic government services.
Coloradoans also approved recreational use of marijuana with the passage of Amendment 64. Voters favored the amendment 53.4% to 46.6%, with more than half the votes reported.
Starting almost immediately, it will be legal for adults in Colorado to grow and consume up to an ounce of marijuana. Marijuana retail stores may open in about a year. The state must adopt regulations governing commercial businesses before July 1, 2013. Sales taxes and licensing fees are expected to reach $5 million to $22 million per year.
While the feds have selectively raided dispensaries in California, the Department of Justice and the Obama administration have been relatively quiet on the 2012 marijuana measures. “We’re going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole recently told 60 Minutes.
More details on how the Colorado law works, according to the Colorado Independent:
- People will not be able to smoke in public, like at baseball games or in parks.
- People growing their own plants can have up to six at a time, with no more than three being mature at any given time.
- Growers will be allowed to possess their entire harvest, even if it exceeds one ounce.
- Plants will have to be grown in secured areas that are not visible to the public.
- Employers will not have to accommodate people who wish to smoke. Drug testing and firing based on marijuana will still be allowed.
Overall, a major victory for people who realize that marijuana is no more dangerous – and perhaps less so – than alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs.