By Melisa Carmmack
On November 6, 2012, voters in Washington (I-502) and Colorado (Amendment 64) passed marijuana legalization initiatives. These initiatives legalized the possession and use of one ounce of marijuana for citizens over the age of 21. Initiative 502 and Amendment 64 call for the establishment of regulated and licensed vendors to legally sell marijuana. The historic passages of these initiatives have led to a great deal of speculation about their consequences. The new state laws are expected to harm drug cartels, which are expected to lose revenue due to lost marijuana sales. The price of marijuana is anticipated to drop, while the number of people purchasing the drug is expected to increase.
Supporters see the new policies as indicative of a shift in the public perception of controlled substances. They believe that drug prohibition has failed and that legalizing, taxing, and regulating these substances will be more beneficial. They draw a parallel between marijuana laws and the alcohol prohibition in the 1920′s, which created a huge black market for alcoholic beverages and led to violent gang warfare. Proponents see legalization as the only solution to removing gangs and cartels from the marijuana business. They believe government resources will be set free to deal with more serious crimes.
Opponents argue that marijuana is a dangerous substance that should be strictly banned or, at minimum, be restricted to medicinal use. They argue that marijuana is a gateway drug – a substance that will lead to the usage of “harder” drugs such as meth and cocaine. Opponents also believe marijuana legalization will have a detrimental effect on society.
At this point, it is unclear how the federal government will respond to the new state laws. The federal government does not even recognize the medical marijuana policies that have been adopted in some states. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the Washington and Colorado laws, which take marijuana legalization much further. Even before the initiatives passed, there was concern among supporters about the federal government nullifying the laws. Marijuana legalization may also impact U.S. relations with Latin American countries. The leaders of many of these countries have been pushing for a new approach to drug policy, and may be even more insistent now. The rest of the nation will be observing how Washington and Colorado implement these new policies. The success or failure of marijuana legalization will undoubtedly play a key role in other states’ decisions in the future.
Melisa Cammack has been freelance writing for several years, and although she currently lives in Perth Australia, she is originally from Seattle Washington. It has been extremely interesting watching her home state and country change from so far away. Melisa is currently promoting the Delray Recovery Center, located in Delray Beach Florida. For more information on seeking help for substance abuse, please visit www.delrayrecoverycenter.com