Colorado, Washington Legalize Recreational Marijuana: 4 Things You Should Know About Amendment 64.

By Staff Reporter on November 7, 2012 11:32 AM EST

Weed
Marijuana (Photo: Creative Commons)

Colorado and Washington have become the first states in the U.S.A. to legalize marijuana for recreational use after both states demonstrated support for Amendment 64 in polls. Oregon was the third state to hold the ballot but a lack of money and campaign organization devoted to championing Amendment 64 ultimately prevented legalization in the state.

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According to Reuters, voters in Colorado polled 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of the new amendment. According to Colorado's pro-legalization campaign co-director Mason Tvert, "Colorado will no longer have laws that steer people towards using alcohol and adults will be free to sue marijuana instead if that is what they prefer. And we will be better off as a society because of it."

In Washington, support for legalization of recreational marijuana led 55 percent to 44 percent.

While the legalization of two states is hardly an accurate sample set of the nation as a whole, the national advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance believes otherwise-- the outcome in Colorado and Washington represent a growing support for marijuana across the country. The Drug Policy Alliance says that according to a Gallup poll last year, there are 50 percent of Americans in favor of legalized marijuana over 46 percent who oppose.

Now that the new amendment has passed, what does it mean for the state residents that engage in recreational marijuana? The terms of Amendment 64 can be broken down to four parameters-- age limit, possession limit, sales and taxation, and finally cultivation.

An individual of at least 21 years of age is permitted to carry in possession a total of an ounce, or 28.5 grams, of marijuana. What's more, cannabis can now be legally distributed and taxed via state-licensed stores following a system that mirrors the sale of alcohol.

In terms of cultivation, Colorado will set limits to six marijuana plants per person. As for Washington, "grow-your-own" is outlawed outright. Interestingly, should Amendment 64 pass in Oregon, the state would permit individuals to grow unlimited amounts of their own marijuana for recreational use.

Despite the victorious ballots in Colorado and Washington and despite a growing trend of advocacy across the nation, the federal government still firmly classifies cannabis as an illegal drug, overruling the state-level law. In response to the passed Amendment in Colorado and Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice stated, "We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time."

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said in a statement, "The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will. This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through."

In addition, Hickenlooper reminded his citizens, "Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly."

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