Colorado and Washington became the first two states to nullify unconstitutional federal drug statutes by legalizing marijuana for recreational use, with voters backing Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 — but rejecting a similar proposal in Oregon. The two victories for legalization advocates, however, have set the stage for a potential showdown with the Obama administration of historic importance.
In Colorado, about 55 percent of voters supported Amendment 64, which changes the state constitution to treat cannabis — already legal for medicinal purposes in the state — similar to alcohol and tobacco. Sales of marijuana will be regulated and taxed, with the increased revenue going to the state’s general fund and toward building government schools. Local authorities, however, still have power to restrict or prohibit sales within their jurisdictions.
"Over the past eight years in Colorado, we have argued that it is irrational to punish adults for choosing to use a product that is far less harmful than alcohol," said co-director Mason Tvert with the pro-Amendment 64 Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "Today, the voters agreed. 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."
Initiative 502 in Washington State, meanwhile, was approved by around 55 percent of the electorate as well, legalizing the strictly regulated sale and consumption of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The measure was tied to a new policy on “drugged driving” setting tight limits on the cannabis content allowed in drivers’ systems.
“I'm going to go ahead and give my victory speech right now. After this I can go sit down and stop shaking," said I-502 campaign manager Alison Holcomb. "Today the state of Washington looked at 75 years of national marijuana prohibition and said it is time for a new approach."
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