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Colo., Wash. become first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana

Published: Friday, November 9, 2012

Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 01:11

The presidential election was one of several notable issues on Colorado’s voting ballots. After Tuesday’s results, Denver, known as the Mile High City, was the capitol of one of two states to be the first to legalize marijuana.

Amendment 64 on Colorado’s ballot passed with 54.82 percent voting “yes” and 45.81 percent voting “no,” according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

The amendment makes it legal for carefully regulated retail stores to sell up to one ounce of marijuana to persons 21 years old or older. While possession of the substance is legal, public use is prohibited. Adults will now be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes.

The primary threat to Colorado’s resolution is the drug’s continued illegality at the national level.

Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor the Drug Enforcement Administration, both of which consider marijuana an illegal drug, have released a statement stating their reaction to the developments in Colorado.

“I like the idea that states can work as laboratories to test out potential national laws,” said Travis Schott, senior mechanical engineering major. “Whether it’s right or wrong, we can see what the effect is of legalizing marijuana.”

The state of Washington also approved an amendment legalizing recreational marijuana use, while Oregon voted down a similar measure. Massachusetts voted for the legal use of medical marijuana while Arkansas rejected it.

Mostafa Selim, senior university studies major and chief student leader of Aggie Cannabis Reform and Education Society, said he is excited about the amendment’s passing in Colorado and Washington.

“This is a historic event, 40 years in the making.” he said. “That brings the total to 20 states with laws and positions in stark contrast with those of the federal government regarding marijuana. Over and over again the states have spoken, and it is time for the federal government to release marijuana from the grasp of prohibition.”

Selim said he is hopeful that recently appointed Supreme Court justices would vote in favor of the legalization of marijuana should the issue be sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. Four of the nine current justices are more than 70 years old, and though they are hired for life, could retire in the near future. A 2006 study in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy found that the average retirement age for justices was 78.7.

“I think the legalization of recreational marijuana is unhealthy and wrong,” said Rebecca Parma, senior economics major. “But I can see why Colorado did it for better regulation and revenue purposes.”

According to The Associated Press, Colorado pledged to put the money accumulated from taxes on marijuana toward school construction. It was estimated between $5 million and $22 million will be raised each year.

“Though I’m not for the legalization of marijuana, I see it as an opportunity for the U.S. to tax it and regulate it as a source of revenue,” said Logan Knowles, senior bioenvironmental science major.


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