Marijuana changes in conflict with feds
Washington and Colorado voters on Election Day Nov. 6 approved legalization of marijuana for recreational use, making them the first states to decriminalize the practice.
It will be a month before the measures become law and longer still before state officials write the rules, tax codes and other regulations creating new state-licensed retail marijuana shops.
But the larger problem is that the legislation clashes with the federal government, which still views marijuana as an illegal schedule I controlled substance.
According to a report in Bloomberg News, Washington will allow those at least 21 years old to buy as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana from a licensed retailer. Colorado's measure allows possession of an ounce and permits growing as many as six plants in private, secure areas. Oregon rejected a similar measure on Election Day.
Washington, Colorado and Oregon were among six states with marijuana on their ballots. In Massachusetts, residents approved a measure to allow medical use, while Arkansas voters rejected such a proposal. Medical marijuana use is already permitted in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Montana residents voted to restrict the use of medical marijuana. (Legislation has been proposed, but never signed into law, to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes in Pennsylvania.)
The approval of recreational pot goes a step beyond its acceptance in medical use. California was the first state to permit medical marijuana when voters approved it in 1996. Federal prosecutors cracked down on the medical marijuana industry in California last year, threatening landlords with jail if they didn't evict the marijuana shops.