Washington May Allow Marijuana Sales In America’s First State-Licensed Pot Shops

Washington is on a path to become the first state to approve recreational marijuana sales. The pot would be sold inside state-licensed shops to customers age 21 and over, no medical compassion prescription required. If Initiative 502 is approved on the November ballot, the legislation would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

In Washington state, more than 241,000 individuals have been arrested for marijuana possession in the past 25 years, according to the Huffington Post. Many of the cannabis arrests occurred during the past decade. The cost of dealing with pot possession arrests reached a total of $194 million during the past 10 years alone.

It would still be illegal to privately grown marijuana for recreational use in the state even if the new law passes. Initiative 502 would make it illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, per milliliter of blood, according to legislation excerpts. A zero tolerance policy would remain in effect for recreational pot use for anyone under 21, The Seattle Times notes.

State-licensed pot shops would not be located near schools, parks, daycare centers, or libraries. Toking on a joint in public would still be a big No-No in Washington, even if the recreational marijuana law passes.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron believes that legalizing marijuana and taxing it at the same rate as tobacco and alcohol, could save United States taxpayers $13.7 billion annually. Approximately $7.7 billion would reportedly be saved by not enforcing current prohibition laws. An estimated total of $6.2 billion would be garnered via tax revenue.

Colorado and Oregon have similar marijuana regulations on the November ballot. The Colorado Amendment 64 campaign boasts more than 300 supportive doctors.