The upcoming year is said to be the end of the world, a spiritual shift, or some other significant event for the whole of humanity. While opinions differ on the significance of this year, one thing is certain, the marijuana legalization movement is gaining ground in a big way here in the United States.
As of 2011, 15 states across the nation and Washington, D.C. already allow marijuana use for medical reasons. California led legalization efforts in the U.S. with the failed but widely popular Proposition 19 back in 2010 which would have allowed for adult possession of cannabis in this state by anyone over 21 years of age. Colorado and Washington State have voter initiatives on the November ballot that plan to regulate marijuana use for adults in a manner similar to alcohol or tobacco.
Colorado just recently had enough registered voters petition the state to have Amendment 64 on the statewide ballot. Over 160, 000 voters signed the petition in the initial drive.
The Secretary of State initially rejected the measure saying that an additional 2,500 signatures were needed on February 3. Volunteers and activists for the campaign responded to his demands by turning in over 14,000 more voter signatures in favor of the amendment.
The proposed language of the Amendment 64 would allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults in the state. It also has provisions for allowing retail establishments to operate in the state, tax revenue to be generated for the state, and protections for landlords who lease property to dispensaries.
Possession of up to one ounce by adults over the age of 21 is also on the ballot in Washington State this year. The initiative plans to regulate the sale of cannabis by charging a 25% tax on retail sales and selling growers permits for $5000.
The tax dollars generated by I-502 is to be used by the state for substance-abuse prevention, research, health care, and education. The estimated revenue in one year is said to be roughly $440 million in added taxes for the state according to a hearing on the proposed initiative.
Initiative 502 also has provisions allowing adults to possess 72 ounces of liquids containing marijuana, or 1 pound of a solid product infused with marijuana such as cookies or butter.
The fact that the two states are voting on making these changes to their law reflect a change in attitudes about cannabis nationwide. More and more Americans are aware that marijuana prohibition does not work. Millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens are unnecessarily arrested yearly at an enormous cost to already cash strapped states and municipalities.
If either state passes the initiative we can only await to see more and more states decriminalize use, possession, and sale of a greatly in demand product that can be taxed and regulated. Many people have said that 2012 would be a year of great change, and for cannabis users our time is Now!
By Soilent Green
photograph by Joey Lozano
Source: hempbeach.com, NORML, regulatemarijuana.org, sensiblewashington.org