Colorado stores opened their doors to legal recreational pot smokers, and after organizing a licensing system for pot stores, Washington is expected to follow. As the year continues, marijuana activists nationwide are pushing for legalization elsewhere.
Oregon and Alaska are taking steps to vote on legalizing marijuana in 2014. However, 2016 is going to be a more crucial year for legalization in California, Maine and Massachusetts. Efforts made towards legalization will include petitioning and polling.
Despite the fact that marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, it still remains illegal in accordance with federal laws against it. The federal government has issued a memo allowing these states to proceed with legalization as long as they follow certain criteria: keeping it off federal property, preventing drugged driving, keeping it away from minors, and preventing violence.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz criticized Obama for issuing the memorandum and not going to Congress. Memos are not permanent and can be revoked at any moment, but the Obama administration has not made an effort to imprison marijuana users in Colorado and Washington.
It is still unclear what the federal government will do about marijuana legalization. It’ll take some time for the Obama administration to initiate something in legislation in regards to state-marijuana legalization.
There are a few, more pressing manners that are beginning to raise concerns in the pro-prohibition field. For example, on Saturday, January 11th, an allegedly high driver crashed into a state trooper car in Colorado.
To prevent drugged driving, Colorado is going to introduce a “Don’t Drive Stoned” campaign, funded by the National Highway Safety Administration. Along with their campaign, the NHSA will hire more drug recognition experts in order to determine if drugs have impaired someone’s driving.
The funds raised through the taxation of cannabis in Colorado, which amounts to about 29% in total, will be allocated to various places. The first $40 million generated from the 15% state excise tax on marijuana will go towards school construction. Other taxes vary by the city.
“Before marijuana was legal, you could buy an ounce for about a hundred dollars. Now, the state says it’s legal for $135 an ounce. It’s more money for society; society gets thirty-five dollars to spend for robust enforcement, DUI testing, and keeping the drug away from kids,” said Allen St. Pierre, the Executive Director of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), an organization that lobbies against marijuana prohibition.
The polls are indicating that a majority of Americans are opposed to continuing the prohibition of marijuana. According to a poll conducted by CNN/ORC released on January 3rd, 55% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized. This is the first time that this particular survey yielded results that showed that a majority of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana.
The statistics don’t lie, and as 2016 nears, other states may join Colorado in this historic transition into legal cannabis.