In an effort to ensure new voter-approved amendments that legalize limited use of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington are not overrun by the federal government, Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to curtail such a scenario. "My constituents have spoken, and I don't want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens."
In three states — Washington, Colorado, and Massachusetts — efforts to liberalize marijuana laws succeeded last night. In Washington and Colorado, the new laws enacted go even further than past efforts. In these two states, fully regulated recreational pot use has now been approved by voters. Maybe these victories shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in 2011 Gallup found that a plurality of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, and in 2010 fully 70% of Americans supported using marijuana to alleviate pain and suffering. What does all this mean for the four-decade-old War on Drugs?
The President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, has voiced grave concern about the outcome of recent referenda in the United States of America that would allow the non-medical use of cannabis by adults in the states of Colorado and Washington, and in some cities in the states of Michigan and Vermont. Mr. Yans stated that “these developments are in violation of the international drug control treaties, and pose a great threat to public health and the well-being of society far beyond those states”.
Voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington will vote on whether to legalise marijuana. Polls suggest that the initiatives have a decent chance of passing in Washington and Colorado (Oregon is a longer shot).The impact on Mexico could be profound. Between 40% and 70% of American pot is reckoned to be grown in Mexico. According to a recent study by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), a think-tank in Mexico City, the American marijuana business brings in about $2 billion a year to Mexico’s drug traffickers.
Over the past year, the world has eyed Latin America as it has forged forward, in both policy and politics, with a rethink of the “war on drugs.” (See our recent cover story on “Latin America reinventing the war on drugs” here.) But tomorrow, the world will be watching the United States, the birthplace of the “war on drugs,” as three states vote on legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
Le président du groupe de l’Istiqlal à la Chambre des Représentants, Noureddine Mediane, évoque la nécessité pour l’Etat de revoir son système répressif contre les 200.000 familles vivant du cannabis. "La culture du cannabis est toujours considérée comme un sujet tabou au Maroc. Je pense que nous devons rompre avec cet état d’esprit. D’où mon idée de lancer un débat national sur cette culture si répandue dans notre pays. Ce débat doit trancher si nous devons maintenir cette culture ou la faire disparaître définitivement."
In the wake of this month's marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington, legislators in New England are ramping up efforts to be the next state to legalize. Representatives in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont have all signaled they will be filing legalization bills next year.
Roger A. Roffman, professor emeritus of social work at the University of Washington, a sponsor of I-502
09 November 2012
The historic measure to regulate and tax marijuana in Washington State deserves to be looked at closely as a model of how legalization ought to be designed and implemented elsewhere in America. We've turned a significant corner with the approval of Initiative 502, which purposefully offers a true public health alternative to the criminal prohibition of pot. (See also: I-502 Fact Sheet from ACLU)
Juan Vaz, an Uruguayan activist and government aide who has been jailed for growing marijuana in his home, says it's time to end a contradiction that lets people in his country smoke pot but bans its sale or cultivation. The proposal formally introduced to Congress last week would create a National Cannabis Institute with the power to license people and companies to produce marijuana for recreational, medical or industrial uses.
Washington's grand social experiment with marijuana legalization begins Dec. 6 with a simple step: On that date, it is legal to have an ounce of the stuff, and there is little the federal government can do about it. But how the state takes the next big step — transforming the marijuana black market into a closed, regulated and taxed marketplace — is unclear. And the federal government didn't help clarify its potential response on Wednesday. (See also: I-502 Fact Sheet from ACLU )
The election results this week from Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts and Arkansas demonstrate that public opinion about cannabis has moved much faster than the positions of elected officials. Despite what the voters in Washington and Colorado did, growing and selling marijuana will remain federal felonies. The federal reaction is crucial, and at the moment unpredictable. We probably won’t know until a new attorney general takes office.
Some drug policy reform leaders, fearing an official backlash, are urging a cautious, go-slow, approach: make it as easy as possible for the feds to back off and let the states do their thing. Other voices, claiming a pro-pot electoral mandate, are calling for bold, assertive moves to implement the will of the voters.
The battle over the legal recreational use of marijuana heads to several more states, as officials in Colorado and Washington wait to see how the federal government will react to their new pro-pot laws. Rhode Island and Maine seem to be the next states where pro-marijuana forces will seek referendums about the legalization of recreational use. Lawmakers in both states plan to introduce bills, modeled on the laws in Colorado and Washington, to seek the legal recreational use of marijuana.
Voters approved Amendment 64 legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado on Tuesday, making this one of two states to end prohibition of the drug but also raising new legal questions and setting up potential court battles. Among the opponents was Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said that "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 gold fish too quickly."
Since its launch in 1971, when President Nixon successfully branded drug addicts as criminals, the war on drugs has resulted in 45 million arrests and destroyed countless families. The result of this trillion dollar crusade? Americans aren’t drug free — we’re just the world’s most incarcerated population. We make China look like Woodstock. We’re also, according to the old definition, insane; despite overwhelming evidence of its failure, our elected officials steadfastly refuse to change course.
Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama administration. Another ballot measure to remove criminal penalties for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was defeated in Oregon. The Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group that backed the initiatives, said the outcome in Washington and Colorado reflected growing national support for liberalized pot laws.
The 6 November votes in Colorado and Washington left a lot of marijuana users happy and a lot of police officers nervous. And they set the two states up for a confrontation with the federal government, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the US. Legalisation advocates say the recent votes mark the beginning of the end of the drug's prohibition. "It's a tipping point for sure," says Sanho Tree, director of the drug policy project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Now that the voters in Colorado and Washington have approved marijuana legalization initiatives, attention has turned quickly to questions surrounding implementation—and in particular to speculation over how the federal government might react. This is entirely understandable, since it is no secret that the newly approved state initiatives conflict with federal law.
Washington enthusiastically leapt into history Tuesday, becoming the first state, with Colorado, to reject federal drug-control policy and legalize recreational marijuana use. Initiative 502 was winning 55 to 45 percent, with support from more than half of Washington's counties, rural and urban. The vote puts Washington and Colorado to the left of the Netherlands on marijuana law, and makes them the nexus of a new social experiment with uncertain consequences.