While seventeen states have already approved use of marijuana by people with certain medical conditions, there had been no states that approved marijuana for recreational use until Tuesday. Washington and Colorado, which both had ballot initiatives on the issue, both passed their measures. Those states are now waiting to hear how the federal government will respond to the measures.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has said he plans to speak by phone with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the measures, which contradict federal law banning the use of marijuana, both for medical and recreational use.
Both the Colorado and Washington measures will allow adults over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and six marijuana plants, under state regulation and taxation. The measure does prohibit use of the drug while operating a motor vehicle issue.
Hickenlooper had opposed Colorado’s ballot measure and has brought downplayed the possibility of a commercial market for marijuana in Colorado. Advocates of the measure, though, hope the federal government extends its current posture toward medical marijuana to recreational marijuana. Over the last two years, the federal government has investigated over 500 marijuana dispensaries in several states with legalized medical marijuana, but has not prosecuted anybody for personal use.
Colorado’s marijuana measure is set to take effect on January 5, which is the deadline for the governor to add the amendment to the state constitution.
In Illinois, state legislators continue to fight over the issue of medical marijuana, making it unlikely that the possibility recreational marijuana will be brought up anytime soon.
Source: Associated Press, “Colo., Wash. Await federal marijuana response,” Kristen Wyatt, November 9, 2012