November 5 elections were not only about Obama but also about drug policy. Voters in Colorado and Washington State could decide about future drug policies. The so called Colorado Amendment 64 and a similar rule in Washington State have passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use. While the possession of marijuana is still illegal under state law, the passed referendums legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 and for businesses to sell it.
The marijuana measures in Colorado and Washington set up a showdown with the federal government, which still outlaws the drug.
Colorado’s Amendment 64 will allow adults over 21 to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana, though using the drug publicly would still be banned.
The amendment would also allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in a private, secure area.
Washington’s measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults can buy up to 28 marijuana grams. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.
The Washington measure was notable for its sponsors and supporters, who ranged from public health experts and wealthy high-tech executives to two of the Justice Department’s top former officials in Seattle, lawyers John McKay and Kate Pflaumer.
„Marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead and the politicians follow,“ said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which opposes the co-called „war on drugs“.
„But Washington state shows that many politicians are beginning to catch up.“
Estimates show that cannabis taxes could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but the sales will not start until state officials make rules to govern the legal cannabis industry.
In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to allow marijuana use for medical reasons, joining 17 other states. Arkansas voters were deciding on a similar measure that would make it the first Southern state in that group.
In California, where medical marijuana use has been approved by referendum since 1996, the federal government has continued to raid even state-licensed dispensaries, and the drug’s undecided legal status has created a thriving black market.
Voters in the state rejected a plan to legalise marijuana in 2010.