CO&WA Legalize

By Shanti-Baba

During the last USA presidential elections history was made. It had little to do with the candidates or political   parties   however   it   effects   Democrats, Republicans and the Undecided, equally. It is even reverberating around the world like waves from a tsunami.

No one has ever legalised Marijuana in the history of the world! In Colorado (CO) and Washington State (WA), 2 states of the USA, people over the age of 21 years old can legally buy and use marijuana for recreational use without breaking State Law. Federal Law still disallows Cannabis use for both medical and recreational users. A similar ballot issue for Oregon did not pass. In Massachusetts, voters approved legalisation of Cannabis for medicinal reasons, now making it 17 states of the USA who allow medical marijuana. Arkansas rejected the medical use of marijuana and Montana tightened its regulations but continues to allow medical users.

A poll found that 50% of Americans were in favour of Cannabis legalisation up from only 12% in 1969! Medical marijuana has even a greater support despite ongoing controversy over how recreational users some-times masquerade as medical users.

Since the ballots passed were Referendums, the people have given a clear signal. The scent of change is in the air as a result of these historic votes. CO and WA have sent a message that arresting 835,000 people per year for marijuana offences is a waste of resources and a ridiculous infringement on individual’s personal freedom. Prosecutors in both states have announced they are drop-ping cases effective immediately against people for cannabis possession. Within a few years it is predictable that Maine and Iowa will follow CO and WA, and with-in a few years it seems 12 or more states will do likewise!

Motivation for legalisation in both CO and WA have been to raise significant tax revenue from the sales and growing of Cannabis, as well as to regulate the use for adults over the age of 21.

WA involves licensing regime to be controlled by the State Liquor Control Board for growers and sellers. The initiative I-502 bans sale to those people less than 21yr old and sets a 25% tax on both wholesale and retail sales. These taxes will be used to fund drug prevention, education, schools and health insurance. A legal limit on THC blood levels for driving has been set. It bans the growing for personal use or non medical use. The I-502 initiative gained 55% of the voters support in the election.

CO Amendment 64 allows for personal growing for one’s own use or to give away. Taxes of up to 15% will be on sales of cannabis and regulated by the Department of Revenue (State) by way of licensing. Estimates of many millions per year for direct taxes raised by sales of cannabis have been discussed by the Department of Revenue. Amendment 64 gained 53% of the voters support.

The Obama administration, according to the Huffington Post, has authorized 170 raids on medical dispensaries and issued more than 61 federal indictments. So it is clear that Federal and State law are not well aligned on this issue so far. There remains a disparity in the US legal sys-tem between State and Federal, no matter what anyone says.

There has been no science that has shown any association between the amount of money governments spend on drug law enforcement and the rates of drugs use. The USA spends the most on the war on drugs and has one of the highest rates of drug use!

Whether marijuana’s status as a legal or illegal drug influ-ences how it is used remains unclear. Studies conducted in Holland, which have come the closest to full legalization of cannabis, and Portugal, which decriminalized posses-sion of all drugs, so far do not show negative effects on either addiction rates or misuse by young people.

The Obama administration knows that racial minorities are disproportionately jailed for cannabis related crimes. The USA has about 5% of the world`s popula-tion and about 25% of prisoners of the world! Almost 500 000 prisoners are drug related and each costs up to 60 000 dollars a year, making this one of the most ridiculously expensive projects by any government in the world!

In most corners of the world there seems to be a similar trend beginning and gaining momentum, first, that the war on drugs has failed the past 50 years and secondly that a shift towards legalisation is the only real practical solution. Countries in South America like Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Brazil are fast drawing closer to decriminalisation and legalisation of Cannabis. Medical researchers are advancing forward in places like Israel, Czech Republic and Spain not to mention think tanks and committees are being set up in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK and are appraising the questions of medical use and implementation of Cannabis as a medicine. The world is in motion on this issue just as CO and WA have displayed in the USA.

From a personal stand point I have been actively partici-pating for legalisation of Cannabis most of my life. It is a plant in Mother Nature and only due to profit, or com-petition it was side lined for almost 80 years. It has a longer documented use in Man`s world than most any-thing else as a fibre, seed crop and a medicine. So logic must prevail in the end as profit can only be taken until it is used up! Making sensible decisions is a legacy for our children so at least we can be part of a solution for them than anything else.

The domino effects are enormous and gaining momen-tum with epic proportion. It makes me feel very positive reading all that has been taking place recently to gain support to legalise Cannabis. Even with disparity between State and Federal Law, it seems the proverbial rock is gaining pace and growing in size as it rolls down the States of the USA.

Everyone who voted to create this historic event in CO and WA, I say, thank you! For all the sick people I see turning to Cannabis for relief and for all those victimless crimes committed by consenting adults that hurt no one, I say thank you once again CO and WS for leading the way to common sense!

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