Colorado voters have spoken resoundingly in support of the legalization of marijuana, creating a precedent for other states to follow suit in coming years, or for a nation of smokers to converge upon the mountainous state. Cue the jokes on getting a “Rocky Mountain high”.
Amendment 64 passed with nearly 55 percent of the vote. As of Wednesday morning at 6:30, 54.3 percent of voters supported the measure and 45.6 spoke in opposition. While the legislation was projected to pass, the victory is exciting regardless.
Now, Coloradans over the age of 21, and those visiting for the vistas or the pot, can possess marijuana for recreational use. Gone are the days of wondering if you have a qualifying medical condition. Soon, state-run stores will be set up to provide you with your pot needs. And if you have a green thumb, the legislation allows you to grow up to six marijuana plants of your own.
“This demonstrates that the people of Colorado are just as smart as we thought they were,” said one of the directors on the Yes on 64 Campaign, Mason Tvert. “They were fed up with prohibition and decided they want a more sensible approach.”
Similarly, voters in Washington passed their legalization effort, while the ballot measure in Oregon failed.
Before you run out on the street with a spliff in hand—the law won’t officially take effect until the election results are certified, which could be a few months. Until then, keep it out of sight.
Governor John Hickenlooper, an opponent of the measure, offered a similar caution after hearing of the measure’s success: “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.”
How the new system will be put in place remains to be seen. The setting up of retail marijuana shops will take time, as will the regulating of the industry. The amendment left many things to be determined, and the state Department of Revenue will be the one sorting things out.
“Colorado has a lot of work to do quickly in terms of setting up the appropriate rules and structures,” said co-director for Rand’s Drug Policy Research Center Rosalie Pacula.
Not only do things need to be sorted out at the state level, but the federal government’s involvement in things remains a big unknown. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance at the federal level, making it a crime to possess it no matter where you live (or what voters say). This could translate into a court battle between the federal government and Colorado and/or Washington, as the feds hold tightly to their drug war.
In the meantime, however, a congratulations is in order. Kudos to the voters of Colorado who have taken a step towards greater civil liberties, in freeing up a harmless plant for the people of the state!