Marijuana Laws in Colorado and Washington
After this years elections just dated two days ago, the citizens of Colorado and Washington are ecstatic about the right to recreationally use marijuana. Many other states like California see this as the "light at the end of the tunnel." Although the referendums were passed, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper explains that it is too soon to "break out the Cheetos." The states of Colorado and Washington must still find a way to get past the federal laws that allow citizens to legally buy and sell marijuana.
Of course the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a statement that stated the DEA's "enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. The Department of justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives." The DEA stated.
The citizens of Massachusetts and possibly Montana(pending final votes) also voted for the right for the use of medical marijuana. This would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to patients who are dealing with serious medical problems such as "cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis."
As of now 17 states allow for the use of medical marijuana. Being so prevalent in California that reportedly Los Angeles County has more shops selling marijuana then liquor stores. "Some medical marijuana clinics have been taken over by illegal for-profit businesses that sell recreational marijuana to healthy young adults and attract crime." Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck stated. With federal prosecutors working aggressively to stop this from happening, three forfeiture lawsuits were filed to 71 "illegal marijuana stores" in California by federal authorities. Last month, 14 people were indicted by a federal grand jury in California for federal drug trafficking charges as well as tax invasion and weapons charges.
NORML'S which stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws states that cannabis is "far less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco." they state, "Marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose." On the contrary, the website states that tobacco and alcohol cause thousands of deaths a year.
With the economy at a low, the legalization of marijuana can pose as a push for income to the nation. The legalization could potentially save the U.S. taxpayers around $10 billion, which goes to more then 750,000 people arrested for possession of marijuana. NORML states that these arrests are "far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combines, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault."
Regarding the votes passed on Wednesday, the Governor of Colorado Hickenlooper stated "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 Goldfish too quickly." While people are waiting around waiting for this referendum to pass, the legal process may take only two months to make Marijuana legal across Colorado.
With this said, in those two months the medical marijuana shops will be able to sell to the general public without a prescription from a doctor. This would open up 536 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, an oversight seen by University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin. The "billion dollar question," however is whether the federal government allows this to happen.
It will take time to see what the federal government will do regarding this issue but as for the standards of NORML, the referendums are seen as, "The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel before us all."