Colorado, Washington Legalize Marijuana!

Colorado voters made history Tuesday night, passing a constitutional amendment to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana and becoming the first state in the US to break with marijuana prohibition. Hours later, voters in Washington state followed suit, passing a legalization initiative there, but a similar effort in Oregon came up short.

Even though marijuana legalization didn’t achieve a trifecta, two states have now decisively rejected marijuana prohibition, sending an electrifying message to the rest of the country and the world. Tuesday’s election also saw a medical marijuana initiative pass in Massachusetts, a sentencing reform initiative pass in California, and a limited legalization initiative pass in Detroit. Medical marijuana initiatives failed in Arkansas and Montana. [Editor’s Note: Look for Chronicle news briefs soon on the election results we have yet to publish stories on.]

“The victories in Colorado and Washington are of historic significance not just for Americans but for all countries debating the future of marijuana prohibition in their own countries,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is now a mainstream issue, with citizens more or less divided on the issue but increasingly inclined to favor responsible regulation of marijuana over costly and ineffective prohibitionist policies.

According to the Colorado secretary of state’s office, as of 10p.m.Mountain time, Amendment 64 was leading comfortably with 53.2% of the vote, compared to 46.7% voting “no.” That figure was with only 41% of the vote counted, but it was enough for Amendment 64 supporters and foes alike to call the victory. Rising excitement at Casselman’s, the downtown Denver bar where campaign supporters gathered, turned to pandemonium as Colorado media began calling the result little more than two hours after the polls closed.

“Colorado voters have decided to take a more sensible approach to how we deal with marijuana in this state,” said Mason Tvert, director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which had brought together state marijuana reform groups such as SAFER and Sensible Colorado with national reform organizations such as the Marijuana Policy ProjectDrug Policy Action, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in a well-organized and well-funded winning campaign.

“Today, the people of Colorado have rejected the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” said Sensible Colorado’s Brian Vicente. “Thanks to their votes, we will now reap the benefits of regulation. We will create new jobs, generation million of dollars in tax revenue, and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crimes. It would certainly be a travesty if the Obama administration used its power to impose marijuana prohibition upon a state whose people have declared, through the democratic process, that they want it to end.”

“I’m so happy we not only did this, we did it right,” said MPP’s Steve Fox, who had worked closely with Tvert, Vicente, and Yes on 64 spokesperson Betty Aldworth to bring the effort to fruition. “Now, it is legal in the state constitution to possess and grow marijuana. It can’t be repealed on a whim; it is permanent. Thirty days from now, any veteran—any person—in this state can use marijuana.”

“Colorado is the starting point, the tipping point, but it’s not the end point,” vowed MPP executive director Rob Kampia, who promised to take the effort to more states in the future.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) a staunch opponent of Amendment 64, conceded its victory as well Tuesday night. The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” he said in a statement. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”

According to the Washington secretary of state’s office , as of 9:28 p.m. Pacific timeTuesday, Initiative 502 was holding a comfortable lead of 55% to 45%. Sponsored by New Approach Washington, the initiative had excited opposition among segments of the pot-smoker and medical marijuana community, but created a carefully crafted and financially well-backed campaign featuring a series of establishment endorsers.

I-502 legalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and over, but does not allow for personal cultivation, except by or for medical marijuana patients. It will license marijuana cultivation and retail and wholesale sales, with restrictions on advertising. Regulation will be the remit of the state liquor control board, which will have to come up with rules by December 2013. The measure creates a 25% excise tax on marijuana sales, with 40% of revenues dedicated to the general fund and 60% dedicated to substance abuse prevention, research, and healthcare. It also creates a per se driving under the influence standard of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

By contrast, Colorado’s Amendment 64 allows adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or six marijuana plants, three of which can be mature. It will create a system of state-licensed cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities and state-licensed retail stores. Local governments would have the option of regulating or prohibiting such facilities. The amendment also requires the state legislature to enact legislation governing industrial hemp cultivation, processing, and sale, and to create an excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales. The first $40 million of that annual revenue will be dedicated to building public schools.

“Marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead and the politicians follow, but Washington state shows that many politicians are beginning to catch up,” said Nadelmann, noting that the Obama administration had failed to denounce the initiatives. “That bodes well, both states’ prospects of implementing their new laws without undue federal interference.”

In Oregon, Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), didn’t fare so well. As of 11:30 p.m. Pacific time, it was losing 45% to 55%, with 69% of the vote counted.

It came late to the ballot compared to the efforts in Colorado and Washington, could not demonstrate majority support in polls, and, as a result, did not manage to attract substantial funding from outside donors, sealing its fate.

But despite the loss in Oregon, when it comes to passing groundbreaking marijuana legalization initiatives in the United States, two out of three ain’t bad.

– Article from



  1. Anonymous on

    oh no, a what about the children post…

  2. Anonymous on

    the new laws are all so beautiful
    Finally! The government understands what people go through and are coming half way with it’s state’ citizens.

    Peace! is a beautiful thing

  3. samson on

    You obviously have never heard of Cash Hyde

  4. Anonymous on

    This is why the 2nd Amendment was made. US citizens have the right to form private militias to protect themselves from the Federal Government imposing its will on them with force of arms, known as the DEA SS squad of Obama. Now it’s Colorado against the DEA. Fortunately, in the US anyone can arm themselves a lot better than the DA by simply going to a gun show and buying an assault arsenal and body armor. My guess is that there are more Cannabis users in Colorado than there are DEA agents in the whole agency. So what happens when a DEA squad shows up at a weed shop for a raid and are greeted by an armed militia of 10,000 stoners with AKs called out by twitter? Are they gonna bring in the US military against its own citizens? I’m sure that would go over well. I guess it will be civil war then. Incidentally, using the UN Treaties as an excuse for DEA actions against drugs is rather lame considering that the UN can’t even stop an ongoing massacre in Syria. What would they do if the US stopped honoring the treaty? The same thing, that’s what, nada.

  5. God on

    Dumbass! growing a marijuana plant is more safe compared to someone bringing it home and smoking it! a rose bush has a higher chance of causing harm to a child at home. WHAT ARE WE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN?

  6. Anonymous on

    You must be kidding, you couldn’t be more apathetic to the true harm the previous poster cited

  7. Paul Pot on

    It’s time to start writing letters to newspapers and politicians all over the world.
    This is it.
    The drug war ends here.

  8. Anonymous on

    Then maybe they shouldn’t make the choice to grow their own plants, if this is what the law is referring to. I have absolutely no issues with it being made legal for medical purposes and prescribed like any other medication, but I’m against a drug being grown in a home, potentially with children. What it boils down to is that Marijuana is a mind-altering drug. It changes a persons state of mind so it’s not safe to be grown in the homes of any citizen.

    And no matter what tax-payers money is going to be wasted somewhere, so might as well lock up law-breaking idiots. /shrug Maybe their damaged children will teach them/others a lesson.

  9. Anonymous on

    congratulations to colorado and washington.Oooops! Ive got to go! Its 4:19 PM already

  10. JusticeForAll on

    Halliluyah!!! I never thought I’d see this day. Truth and sensibilty backed by scientific facts and the will of the people finally overcoming the decades worth of of lies, decipt and brainwashing of the prohibitionists. Congradulations to all the freedom fighters. The sacrifices you have made will not have been in vain and will forever be remembered. Let us not forget…this is merely the first brick in the wall with many more to still come down. Now is not the time to let up or swagger in the spoils of victory. Stepen Harper has decided to build the wall even higher here in Canada, taking all discrection away from our judges with mandatory jail sentences for non violent, even first time cannabis “offenders” who choose to grow as few as 6 plants for their own consumption. Canadian mainstream media has once again been used as a propeganda tool by not informing its citizens that the crime bill that just went through included caging up otherwise law abiding human beings with rapists, murderers and pedophiles for a MINIMUM HALF YEAR, also costing those people their employment,home,vehicle and credit rating (as you can’t make those payments fron inside a cage)
    Single parents with children will have them taken away and put into government run institutions (all paid for with YOUR tax dollars)causing irreparable damage to families across this great country not to mention the long term psychological damage to the chilren. If all that wasn’t bad enough, they’re then burdened with a criminal record for the rest of their lives which will then forever limit future employment possiblilities and financial credibility.
    The fight MUST continue my friends, for there are many battles to still be won. Perhaps British Columbia can do what has now been done in Coloroda and Wahington,lead by example and right all the wrongs that conservative prohabitionists contine to do here in this beautiful country

  11. DonDig on

    I am delighted with the results in Washington and Colorado, but in today’s LA Times there is not one mention of it: I combed the paper twice. As important as this is in so many ways, some folks don’t yet get it. They undoubtedly will eventually, but the educational work is not yet done.
    Congratulations to all! The first light of day has breached the wall of prohibition!

  12. Anonymous on

    I wrote the post you replied to. Two things. 1. I have no idea how to get legal. The websites that teach you how charge too much (worth it but not affordable). 2. I don’t understand what qualifies as “severe”. Sure some days I can barely walk with osteoarthritic knees, but most days are OK. Before weed I used to regularly OD on advil (exceeding max number of pills two or three times in a day for weeks) but over past year I haven’t bought a single bottle. BTW weed in rubbing alcohol applied topically gave me no high but the pain drops fast! Anyhow I don’t think I’m “severe” like others, even though my flair ups could be really bad, so I don’t know if I qualify. 3. Also I don’t trust our government. Health Canada wants to abolish mmmar, and when they do they’ll have a list of people for the police to go after. Maybe CC could write article how to get mmar card?

    Sorry for making comments off topic. Again congrats to USA

  13. Anonymous on

    As a fellow Canadian I too would like to read such an article. Perhaps someone could provide a good link since obviously Cannabis culture is behind the 8ball on this one.

    PS thanks Jodi for letting Marc speak to us via phone last night!

    Congrats to USA for victory! Hopefully now the US will stop butting other countries and now legalization may proceed much easier. Please someone tell Harper that he chose wrong.

  14. Anonymous on

    Hi, everyone who believes in or knows the benefits of the plant needs to speak up!! Be “found out” by whom?? You would be surprised how many people are either ambivalent or pro-marijuana. Why don’t you apply for a medical license? Arthritis is a category 1 illness, your form can be signed by any doctor, it doesn’t you don’t need a specialist. As the doctor who signed mine said “severe arthritis is a slam dunk”. He was a psychiatrist who thinks “the laws are bullshit & it needs to be legalized”.

  15. Anonymous on

    I foresee a real estate boom over the next few months… in only a couple of states.

  16. Anonymous on

    The “electrifying message to the world” didn’t reach Germany. Their news didnt mention it with a single word.

  17. Anonymous on

    Hey Cannabis Culture
    Not to detract from the awesome victory in America, and the inevitable crumbling down of the prohibition (hip-hip-horay!) but it is important that you post an article for Canadians today about the sad effect-immediately laws Harper has implemented (actually effective as of yesterday). I’m sure many Canadians should be made aware of the new mandatory-minimum punishments that are now applicable. Could you please write a definitive article about what the consequences are now for any of the “offences”. I think that most of us are completely confused about the facts, and if we know the facts we could better decide what is appropriate for us.

    Sadly, I have opted to switch back to the toxic medications because, well, I don’t wanna go to jail for 6 months or more. However, knowing how great marijuana is to heal ailments I shall now be far more assertive in speaking up legalization in Canada, which I haven’t done before due to fear of being found out. Now I’ll keep a couple of grams for emergencies, and use it only for my worst arthritic flair ups (I find that regular use is a great preventative – “ounce of prevention”). God I pray that Mernagh wins ASAP!!!!

    My heart is so overjoyed & hopeful now with this great event! Congratulations Colorado & Washington, and enjoy your freedom (lucky!!!). This is a great historical day that I’m sure is the tipping point towards making marijuana a mainstream issue. We are in the final days of this insane prohibition. Blessings to all the souls who have worked hard & sacrificed to make this all possible.