3 states to vote on recreational pot use

National interest in legalizing marijuana grows as Washington, Oregon and Colorado take up the issue.

By Bruce Kennedy Oct 24, 2012 9:34AM

Credit: Bruce KennedyIs the United States on the verge of legalizing pot? Already 17 states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana, and on Nov. 6, voters in three states will decide whether adults should be able to buy it for recreational use.


Ballot measures in Washington, Oregon and Colorado are in direct conflict with federal law, an issue that opponents hope will sway voters. But the measures are polling well in Washington and Colorado and getting support across the political spectrum, including from some high-profile conservative Republicans, The Washington Post reports.


The issue is in play on a national level, too. In Colorado alone, campaigns for and against the state's Amendment 64 have reportedly spent well over $3 million, much of it from out-of-state organizations on both sides. "This is a big deal, and I think the federal government knows that," said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver. "And I think they're watching these elections very closely."


Supporters of legalized marijuana have also been more politically savvy in this round of elections, compared with during earlier efforts, such as a failed 2010 attempt in California. They are pointing to the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars that strictly regulated marijuana sales programs could bring to state coffers.


But Kamin, who has been closely watching the battle over Colorado's Amendment 64, believes those numbers are optimistic. "The extent to which this will become a large-scale industry really depends on federal acquiescence," he said. "If the feds come in and shut everyone down, it's not going to be a big boon for the cities and for the state government. (But) if it happens and this rivals tourism in attracting people to our state, this might provide some financial benefits."


Kamin and other observers also note a generational gap when it comes to the legalization issue, akin to how voters approach gay marriage. For younger voters, he says, "medical marijuana, legalization of marijuana is not something they're very troubled by. They're usually very pro. Similarly, gay marriage is not something that bothers them. It's only when you go up in years that you see strong opposition to it."


So is the tide turning? A Gallup poll taken last year said half of Americans surveyed favored the legalization of marijuana use, up from 46% in the previous year. And a recent Seattle Times editorial endorsed the state's Initiative 502, saying that, rather than continued criminalization of marijuana use, "the better policy is to legalize it, license it, regulate it and tax it."


But Kamin believes that, should these measures pass in any of the three states, it will only signal the beginning of the real battle over legalization.


"If it does pass somewhere, that does not mean that all of its provisions will go into effect right away," he says. "We may see a federal crackdown. We may see court challenges. It's sort of the start and not the end of what happens."


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1407Comments
Oct 24, 2012 12:26PM
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I agree with most I do not smoke pot or take drugs. but we are not stopping them we should leaglize them all. The little I read portugal has not legalize drugs but decriminalezed them and it is working out fine less hiv frm shared needles Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana. to me if we could stop it stop it all we are doing is making crime bosses and gangs rich

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Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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I think that if pot is legalized, there are a few things that will need to be considered.  I think at first there will be quite a bit of use because of it being something new to many people.  After a while the newness will wear off and many people will decide that it is not for them.  It will be like alcoholic beverages.  People drink whiskey and not beer.  Vodka and not wine and so on.  There will need to be consequences for the actions such as when operating a motor vehicle  dwi or in this case  dwh for lack of a better word.   If it is legalized, it will be regulated just as the alcohol industry with the different kinds with more effects being regulated for example  the pot with less effects will be cheaper and the pot with more effects will cost more like alcohol such as  6% beer at one price and Crown Royale at a higher price.  Also the effects will be labeled such as cancer causing, emphezema and other diseases that are caused by smoking just like tobacco.  It will help reduce the deficet but I don't think that it will be that benifical.

Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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The only reason it's still illegal is the profit that is being made from it. No-one wants kids doing it but if you think the people keeping it illegal are looking out for your best interests you'd better think again.
Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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Anyone with even a scintilla of intellectual acumen can see legalization is a formula for economic disaster. WHAT COMPANY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD EVER HIRE A POT HEAD. I employed over 1,500 people in my company. If I ever found out one of them was a POT HEAD, they would have been fired so quickly it would make your head spin.  The critical thinking skills of our society have already been compromised.

 

The mafia originally introduced drugs into black communities in an effort to keep the blacks down and profit from their economic despair.  Now, we have another group of intellectually and morally compromised individuals who want to legalize pot in America! Those LOSERS who endorse legalization are brain dead!  If you are determined to ensure the downfall of America, support legalization of pot!

Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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The battle to enforce federal and state marijuana laws has cost this country considerably.It has been proven thru-out the world  to have positive medical effects and to be far less dangerous than alcohol considering the violent crime associated with ETOH and road deaths attributed to it.This is not to mention the huge expense in money and loss of life along our border.I do not smoke marijuana but feel it's time to solve several problems at once especially with regard to the increase in tax revenue in a broken economy.Irregardless of who is elected president this economy will not be fixed any time soon but the legalization of  marijuana would go a long ways in helping.
Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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The only ppl that I can see going against the prop are the drug dealers. If this is finally legalized then the street value will decrease thus making their product worthless. There will need to be some form tracking on the substance, I.E. as they do with when you go purchase sudafed*. If a person is involved in some form of traffic accident, they should be treated  as D.U.I or D.W.I depending on what state you are in. The pass will save in my mind millions in courts, prisons and local police $.
Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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i agree with theairdog  i know people who smokes marijuana wheather is for health reason or not most people are on a chill level they are not out here bugging out like they would if they were popping perks or drinking those Four-Loco Drinks nobody has never died from a marijuana overdose but  you hear on the news weekly about someone who has taken thier parents perks and overdosed also i think that the  sale of weed would boost the economy not tremendously but enought to help a little bit. then maybe we wonnt have to spend taxpayers money trying to lock someone up over residue or 2 stick and a seed wtf is that about
Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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Legalizing something takes most of the fun out of it. Remember when u were a teen? Everything was illegal, so...we found a dirt country road that we naturally believed nobody else had ever been down and out came the creme de la creme of teenage life. THAT WAS THE FUN OF IT After a while everything gets old.. Same old drink, same old smokes, same .......... The longer pot stays illegal, the longer the "peoples choice of smokes" really want it, the higher the legal price per ounce is to be (of course set by federal regulation) , more taxes, more profit, more yadda, yadda, yadda. Get the point? It's all politics, folks.
Oct 24, 2012 12:25PM
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I am prescribed vicodin for ankle pain I have had for many years! Vicodin is highly addictive and I do believe I would have a really hard time getting off of it. If weed was legalized, I would much rather smoke then be hooked on these things. not only does it kill my liver, but it also has other side effects that I do not like. The only reason I dont smoke weed is because I do not want to be hurt at work and end up losing my job because weed was in my system. If they made weed legal, I would get off vicodin in a heart beat and just smoke, which I believe would be am uch healthier alternative! Legalize weed please!!!
Oct 24, 2012 12:24PM
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Those that object are pussies afraid of their own shadow.
They need to lighten up and enjoy the high.

Oct 24, 2012 12:24PM
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Kermit the frog 2012....A leap above the rest.  For president.  Might vote positive for this. His lily

pads have a ample supply.

Oct 24, 2012 12:24PM
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The Seattle Times editor's piece has a factual history in it, which would help voters on this issue.  Thanks for including it in your article.

 

Oct 24, 2012 12:24PM
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I'm in Arizona, where medical marijuana use is currently legal.   I've done a 6 month sentence in Az. State Prison for the possession of a "pot pipe" less than 4 yrs. ago.  Now, the State has issued me a "license" to cultivate 12 plants for personal use, and the right to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of "the icky sticky" every 2 weeks!   The Governer is dragging her highheeled feet as regards the opening of State

Licensed (& taxed) Dispensaries...meanwhile a HUGE amount of pot changes hands and finds its way to us patients ON A DAILY BASIS,

and the state coffers don't see a penny.  WHATS WRONG WITH THESE POLITICIANS?   IT'S LIKE THEY'RE....HIGH ON SOMETHING...or something! 

Oct 24, 2012 12:23PM
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I believe if it is legalized all over the US for adults only & taxed it will help our country to get out of debt! 
Oct 24, 2012 12:23PM
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The truth is pot stays illegal because there is to much money given private prisons that enslave their inmates to produce goods that corporations sell on world market.

The prisons will later house you as the NWO  takes over and civil rights are removed.

It's all part of the Police State that is growing...

Oct 24, 2012 12:23PM
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Prosecution of recreational marijuana use does nothing more than waste time, money, and people's lives. Even if there were no monetary gain from taxing mariju****galization is the right thing to do.

 

Since this issue will surely come up before the Supreme Court, then Colorado voters (and voters in other swing states) hold a very important position in the decision. The next President will nominate two Supreme Court Justices, replacing one conservative judge and one liberal judge who will likely retire soon. If Mitt Romney is elected President and the Supreme Court is packed with six conservative judges, then legalization will not happen for another 30 years.  If this is something important to you, then vote for President Obama. The President will not decide the issue, but will appoint the people who will decide. The alternative is 30 more years of wasted money, time and lives.

Oct 24, 2012 12:23PM
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The Feds won't enforce their own immigration laws, but they will crack down on this one ? Hmmm...I guess if you gotta feed that judicial cash cow something, it might as well be something of true value. .
Oct 24, 2012 12:22PM
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It's not just smoking pot that we could use hemp for, clothes, paper, hemp seed oil, canvas, it's better than anything out there for bio fuels. Save trees to oxygenate the planet, talk about a green product
Oct 24, 2012 12:22PM
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How are they going to tax and regulate if it's legal. I would grow my own. Just like corn. Get the Gov. involved, and it's still a controlled substance, like prescription drugs.
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