Marijuana Legalization Wins Big On Election Day

November 08, 2012

From National NORML:

Voters on Election Day expressed unprecedented support for removing criminal penalties for cannabis consumers.

Voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot measures allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults. In Colorado, 55 percent of voters decided in favor of Amendment 64, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants in private by those persons age 21 and over. In Washington, 55 percent of voters similarly decided in favor of Initiative 502, removes criminal penalties specific to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use (as well as the possession of up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form.) Both measures will take effect in approximately 30 days.

Longer-term, both Amendment 64 and I-502 seek to establish statewide regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. State regulators have up to a year to complete the rulemaking process regarding the commercial production, sale, and taxation of cannabis.

Neither measure amends the states' existing medical marijuana laws.

Commenting on the historic votes, (National) NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Until now, no state law has defined cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But, until today, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults."

Armentano continued: "The passage of these measures strikes a significant blow to federal cannabis prohibition. Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. Alcohol prohibition fell when a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state's alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer engaging in the federal government's bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the federal government had little choice but to abandon the policy altogether. History is now repeating itself."

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