Tuesday night Washington and Colorado voters propelled measures to legalize the sale and taxing of marijuana for recreational use. This marks the first time a State will allow its citizens to purchase marijuana with no fear of reprisal from state law enforcement agencies. The Federal Government still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, and it is unknown if they will try to shut down dispensaries of the product as they emerge.
Washington voters passed initiative 502 to legalize, regulate, and tax the sale of small amounts of marijuana to those 21 and older by a 56 percent margin. Colorado passed Amendment 64 by a similar margin, and their law is basically identical.
Allison Holcomb, an attorney who led the I-502 campaign in Washington, said:
“I’d say the answer is probably a combination of the fact that the spirit of this Washington is to live and let live, and the character of Washington is very pragmatic: We have a low tolerance for policies that create more trouble than they’re worth, especially if they involve sticking your nose in someone else’s business.”
Patrick Stickney, a Western Washington University student, explained the youth turnout for the measure:
“We see the moralistic ideologues who want to deny the rights of same sex couples but are on their third or fourth marriage, who decry marijuana but get caught doing hard drugs or abusing pain killers . . . It just doesn’t make sense why so many people spend so much time nosing into what’s happening next door, when we have problems in our own houses.”
Initiative 502 spokespersons this year included ex-US Attorneys John McKay and Kate Pflaumer, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, TV travel guru Rick Steves, and Charles Mandigo former FBI agent in charge of the Seattle office. It was also supported by luminaries of the state medical association and bar association.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who was a vocal opponent of the law, said in a statement:
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will. This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
Both initiatives do not mean you will be seeing Amsterdam style coffee houses opening up next week. The law can take up to a year for the State to implement.