Voters in three states—Colorado, Washington and Oregon—have a chance at the polls on Nov. 6 to make marijuana use legal for adults. The ballot initiatives differ somewhat, but there is a real possibility that non-medical use of marijuana will be legalized for the first time in this fall’s elections.
According to legalization advocates, led by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the ballot initiatives would save states law enforcement dollars and also would increase revenues by taxing marijuana.
Here’s what the initiatives specifically would do:
· Colorado’s Amendment 64 (the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act) would make it legal for adults to possess, use, purchase and transport small amounts of marijuana (up to one ounce). Adults could also possess, process and transport small numbers of marijuana plants. The state would regulate cultivation, manufacturing and testing, and would enforce a ban on sale and distribution to minors. Driving under the influence of marijuana would still be illegal under Colorado’s measure.
· In Washington state, an organization called New Approach Washington is promoting I-502, which would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession for adults; would remove criminal and civil penalties; and would tax sales. As in Colorado, only small amounts of the drug would be considered legal.
· In Oregon, Measure 80 (Oregon Cannabis Tax Act) would regulate the sale and cultivation of marijuana for adults. If passed, it would create the Oregon Cannabis Commission, which would run retail stores selling marijuana. Cultivation and possession by adults for personal use would not require a license. Oregon’s measure does not appear to address amount limits specifically. The State Board of Pharmacy, along with the new commission, would set standards for concentrations of cannabinoids.