Marijuana legalized for the first time in state ballot initiatives

[JURIST] Marijuana will become legal in Colorado [Amendment 64, PDF] and Washington [Initiative 502, PDF] after voters passed ballot initiatives Tuesday to legalize marijuana for the first time on a statewide basis. In Washington voters approved an Initiative to the Legislature to allow the possession and distribution of marijuana through a state-licensing system of marijuana growers, processors and stores, where adults can buy up to an ounce [AP report]. The Colorado initiative actually introduces an amendment to the state constitution, allowing adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce and to privately grow up to six plants, although public use will be banned. In nearby Oregon the Cannabis Tax Act Initiative [Measure 80, PDF] failed by approximately 55-to-45 percent [Examiner.com report] of the vote. Proponents of legalization claim that states could realize hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes from marijuana sales, which will begin when state officials create specific regulations for the new market. Opponents note that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level and predict problematic clashes with the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration [official websites]. Medical marijuana [JURIST news archive] has been legal in Colorado [materials] since voters legitimized it through a constitutional amendment in November 2000, but advocates desired to expand marijuana legality to recreational use as well.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts for the first time Tuesday as over 60 percent of voters approved Question 3 [Petition 11-11, PDF], an indirect initiated statute that will allow marijuana use by patients [Harvard Crimson report] with "debilitating medical conditions" and create 35 medical marijuana dispensaries. Conversely, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act [Issue 5, PDF] was rejected by voters [AP report] in that state by approximately a 52-to-48 percent margin. The measure would have allowed doctors to issue a certificate to anyone with a "qualifying medical condition" to grow, process and use marijuana. Also on the ballot in Montana is a veto referendum regarding a 2011 revision [SB 423] of a 2004 law that established medical marijuana use in the state.

 

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