14 November 2012

Colorado and Washington Become First Two States to Legalize Marijuana for Recreational Use

by Samantha Cavalier, Assoc. Print Editor

Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the country to end the prohibition of marijuana with the passage of amendments earlier this week that legalize adult recreational use of the drug.
“Voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in a written statement. “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 gold fish too quickly.”
© Reuters
This is likely just the beginning of the battle for legalization, since marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government. The Drug Enforcement Administration remains insistent that marijuana is an illegal drug, and that possessing, using, or selling it is a crime. The passage of amendments in Colorado and Washington could likely lead to a battle between the states and the federal government, according to Jeffrey Miron, senior lecturer of economics at Harvard University.
Under Amendment 64 in Colorado, marijuana will be taxed and regulated like tobacco and alcohol and sold in small amounts to adults 21 years of age or older. According to the Associated Press, marijuana taxation could generate between $5 million and $22 million each year in Colorado. Likewise, Washington will place a heavy tax on marijuana to raise revenue. The current proposal is a 25% tax rate that is assessed three times; first when it is sold to the processor, next when the processor sells it to the retailer, and lastly when the retailer sells it to the customer.
Under the Colorado and Washington amendments, personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be legal for anyone 21 and over. The same amendment was placed on the ballot in Oregon, but was voted down.