States Legalize Marijuana

BY Ashley Mertel
SC Staff Writer

People in Colorado, Washington and Oregon voted for more than just a president during the November 6 election, with two of the three states passing the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana.

Supporters of marijuana rejoiced at the news—but should they really be celebrating so soon? Colorado and Washington are the first states to ever legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but it is not as legal as some think.

While “pot” users may not be charged for possessing less than an ounce of the drug, they are still not permitted to buy from an unlicensed vender or sell the product without a license.

Also, buyers and sellers must be of the legal drinking age, 21, in order to possess or sell the product. Amendment 64 of Colorado also states that people may be allowed to grow up to six plants of marijuana at their homes.

Although it will now be legal to possess and use an ounce of marijuana, it will remain illegal to use the drug in public.

While Colorado focused more solely on the recreational use of the drug, Washington focused on legalizing marijuana as a form of raising tax revenue. Washington hopes to place a 25% tax on marijuana, imposing it on the processer, realtor and consumer.

Though Washington is looking at using marijuana as a positive way to rake in some cash, they will most likely face some hefty obstacles, like current dealers of the drug.

People who have been selling marijuana over the years are most likely not going to stop—why would they? It has been illegal, so current sellers are not going to go get a license, only to be taxed by the state on a product they have already been selling under the table.

Also, people who have been illegally purchasing marijuana from sellers are not going to purchase from a vender selling the taxed product; they are going to continue buying from the cheaper source.

Other obstacles both Colorado and Washington will face are the Federal Government and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The states may have passed the vote to legalize marijuana, but the Federal Government still views the use, possession and sale of the drug as illegal. This could cause a showdown of power between the Federal Government and the states if the Federal Government chooses to act against the ruling and overturns the legalization.

The Drug Enforcement Administration was quick to say the Substance Act remains unchanged and marijuana is still considered a crime, federally.

Marijuana supporters should be rejoicing at the legalization of marijuana. It is a step in the right direction for what they believe is a harmless drug, but they should hold off on the victory lap.

The Federal Government has yet to step in, and when they do, the progress the states have made will possibly be overturned. America is simply not ready for a big clash between the states and Federal Government, especially over a controversial drug like marijuana.

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