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Intro: "Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, setting up a showdown with federal authorities over the enforcement of national drug laws."

Medical marijuana on sale in Denver. Voters in Colorado and Washington have backed legalizing its sale for recreational use. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters
Medical marijuana on sale in Denver. Voters in Colorado and Washington have backed legalizing its sale for recreational use. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters



Colorado, Washington Legalize Pot for Adult Recreational Use

Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times

07 November 12

 

olorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, setting up a showdown with federal authorities over the enforcement of national drug laws.

With 63 percent of the vote counted, Colorado's Amendment 64 was leading by a margin of 54 to 46 percent. Washington's Initiative 502 was declared victorious shortly after the polls closed, while a third legalization measure in Oregon appeared poised to go down to defeat.

Supporters of marijuana legalization were jubilant over the vote, declaring that Colorado and Washington voters had taken the first steps toward ending the criminalization of a product they describe as less harmful than alcohol.

"Colorado will no longer have laws that steer people toward using alcohol, and adults will be free to use marijuana instead, if that is what they prefer. And we will be better off as a society because of it," said Mason Tvert, co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign.

Opponents, meanwhile, said they feared the vote would lure drug cartels to their states and result in an increase in youth drug abuse.

"We knew all along this was an uphill battle against a well-funded national movement," said Roger Sherman, campaign manager for No on 64. "We can only hope that our concerns and fears about amending the Constitution to make Colorado the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana do not come true."

Voters in another three states - Arkansas, Massachusetts and Montana - were considering whether to authorize marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Massachusetts measure, Question 3, appeared on the verge of winning passage, which would make the state the 18th to approve medical marijuana.

The three legalization propositions would allow adults 21 and older to use marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The measures also would establish a taxation and regulatory system similar to that now governing the sale and distribution of alcohol.

Of the three, the Washington measure had the most support in the polls going into Tuesday's election, with some surveys showing a double-digit lead. Voters in Colorado were leaning toward approval, with polls showing the proposed amendment registering just above 50 percent in favor.

The Oregon initiative was seen as less likely to pass, in part because it put no restrictions on personal possession or cultivation, and placed a seven-member commission dominated by growers in charge of regulations.

"It's written by marijuana growers, for marijuana growers, with the intent of getting the state deeply enmeshed in the drug business," said an editorial in The Oregonian that recommended a "no" vote.

Even if one of the measures passes, it still would have to contend with federal laws prohibiting marijuana usage and cultivation.

Federal authorities have sent mixed messages in recent years on medical marijuana, allowing California and Colorado, among other states, to regulate it while simultaneously cracking down on dispensaries and banks involved with the industry.

Amendment 64 spokeswoman Betty Alworth said Tuesday that she believed the state and federal authorities would work together on rules in the event that the measure passes.

"The federal government has largely respected medical marijuana and said it will not pursue adults using small amounts," Ms. Alworth said. "I think the federal government will work with our state legislature to craft policies that work for everyone."

Even so, opponents predicted that the first state to legalize recreational marijuana would face enormous drawbacks, attracting drug cartels from Mexico and morphing into a North American drug distribution hub.

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, both Democrats, had campaigned against Amendment 64, even though the Colorado Democratic Party essentially endorsed legalization. Republican lawmakers, led by Attorney General John Suthers and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, also opposed the measure.

The most prominent Republican exception was former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who argued that the drug war against marijuana was an expensive failure. Advocates also insisted that regulating marijuana would take it out from under the control of the cartels and drug dealers.

During the campaign, proponents highlighted the prospect of using marijuana as a cash crop that would bring in badly needed tax dollars for underfunded programs such as K-12 education.

Marijuana advocates have been working for years to convince one state to approve legalization. In 2006, Colorado defeated a marijuana-decriminalization measure, Amendment 44, by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. California rejected Proposition 19, which also would have legalized marijuana for adults, by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent in 2010.

 

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+25 # BradFromSalem 2012-11-07 09:33
Back around 10 years ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was protected under the state's Constitution. Chaos ensued. The chaos however was not from gays marrying, it was from people like the governor at the time trying to block implementation of the court order. Since then, many states tried to allow gay marriage via the ballot.
Until last night, they all had failed.
In a similar vein, California was the first state to legalize medical pot. Now 18 states have passed that, and in MA pot has been turned into a traffic ticket.
The next step to full regulated legalization of pot has finally been taken. As with gay marriage, in a few years, the entire nation will evolve on this issue.
(Then maybe finally the police will be freed up to chase after real criminals, the gangster/bankst ers.)
 
 
+8 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 10:29
Quoting BradFromSalem:
Back around 10 years ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was protected under the state's Constitution. Chaos ensued. The chaos however was not from gays marrying, it was from people like the governor at the time trying to block implementation of the court order. Since then, many states tried to allow gay marriage via the ballot.
Until last night, they all had failed.
In a similar vein, California was the first state to legalize medical pot. Now 18 states have passed that, and in MA pot has been turned into a traffic ticket.
The next step to full regulated legalization of pot has finally been taken. As with gay marriage, in a few years, the entire nation will evolve on this issue.
(Then maybe finally the police will be freed up to chase after real criminals, the gangster/banksters.)


I hope you're right Brad. The big problem is still that federal law trumps state law so at present anytime the feds want to crack down on this they can and there is nothing a state can do about it. still, it's very encouraging to see but i still think we have a ways to go on this one....colorado 's looking better and better though (next they should go for a single payer health care system in the state and then i'd really have to think about relocating).
 
 
+4 # BradFromSalem 2012-11-07 11:46
dk,

Sometimes change is incremental. And it is an important feature of the US having a federal system of government. The Feds messing with sate laws regarding pot is a problem, but again I point to the gay marriage example.
Look at how the Obama administration is handling the Defense of Marriage Act. By executive order they are not prosecuting and testifying against it. Probably not Obama, but some future president can just tell the FBI to stop arresting people for pot since the Justice Department won't prosecute. Or, since the federal marijuana laws are actually a violation of tax laws because the tax stamp (like they have on cigarettes) is not on the baggie, a president just has to order the stamps be printed and then put them on sale. No law to pass, instant legalization!
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 12:43
I hear ya and we will see how the state by state strategy goes as far as pot legalization (i think in the end it will win but not sure it will be as fast as some think)...the problem with relying on a sympathetic fed to simply not prosecute is risky though as we have seen even with Obama who at first seemed like he wouldn't go after the growers/distrib utors for medical marijuana but then did a 360 and started going after them again so it's dicey...may be the best we can do at this point...still think it may come down to conservatives in states where pot is their biggest cash crop and so in these fiscally challenged times they are losing a ton of potential tax revenues...time will tell.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 12:58
Unfortunately, for the most part, in the last 40 years or so the change we've gotten has been more excremental than incremental. If we can continue to build and expand a genuinely progressive movement in this country perhaps we can turn this around but if we can't i would expect more of the same. will depend on how many people fall back into "messiah" "savior" mode and expect Obama to do it all by himself (or even with congress) in the absence of a strong movement out there pressuring them for real substantive, progressive change. Again, time will tell.
 
 
+2 # BradFromSalem 2012-11-07 11:47
Dk,

Vermont is implementing single payer utilizing the provisions already in Obamacare!
 
 
+5 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 12:30
Quoting BradFromSalem:
Dk,

Vermont is implementing single payer utilizing the provisions already in Obamacare!


i know but they haven't legalized pot yet so i'm torn...lol...al so, they have bernie which is another big plus.
 
 
+2 # dbriz 2012-11-07 16:21
You two "lefties" are making the best arguments I've heard in awhile for the Tenth Amendment and the principle of "nullification" .

I knew there were such creatures as left/libertaria ns out there. :)
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2012-11-08 08:21
Quoting dbriz:
You two "lefties" are making the best arguments I've heard in awhile for the Tenth Amendment and the principle of "nullification".

I knew there were such creatures as left/libertarians out there. :)


This one's a longer discussion i think as it also gets to questions of "states rights" and how this historically has been used by states to restrict the rights of its citizens in the face of federal attempts to broaden basic rights to include everyone.

so, i suppose you could label me as a "left libertarian" which to me has always been much more of a european thing (including everyone from the various anarchist movements to the more democratic small c communist or communist inspired movements such as May '68 in France and the Autonomia folks in Italy. unfortunately, libertarianism in the US has always been an odd mix of "tolerance" on social issues (i.e., the idea that the gov't shouldn't be "regulating" or restricting the concensual behavior of adults) but then basically "laissez faire" capitalists als Ayn Rand on the economic side.
 
 
+5 # wrknight 2012-11-07 14:02
Not necessarily. Federal drug laws only trump state laws because the Constitution authorizes the Congress to enact laws governing interstate commerce. If a state would limit drug production, distribution and consumption to within it's own boundaries (thus avoiding interstate commerce), then it's own laws would trump federal laws.

Since marijuana can be grown almost anywhere, it is entirely feasible for a state to establish a strictly intra-state market for it thereby placing it out of reach of Congress and federal legislation.
 
 
+3 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 15:45
Quoting wrknight:
Not necessarily. Federal drug laws only trump state laws because the Constitution authorizes the Congress to enact laws governing interstate commerce. If a state would limit drug production, distribution and consumption to within it's own boundaries (thus avoiding interstate commerce), then it's own laws would trump federal laws.

Since marijuana can be grown almost anywhere, it is entirely feasible for a state to establish a strictly intra-state market for it thereby placing it out of reach of Congress and federal legislation.


Interesting wrknight....had never thought of it in those terms...i'm not a lawyer but i'll sure check with some i know as your response is intriguing. thanks for the comment.
 

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