Massachusetts joins the drug reform current sweeping the nation.
By Steven Wishnia
November 6, 2012
In an unprecedented popular vote, Colorado and Washington have approved ballot initiatives to legalize the sale of marijuana under regulations somewhat stricter than those for alcohol.
“These are not just the first two states to do this,” exulted Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance. “They’re the first two political jurisdictions in the world to do this.”
In Colorado, Amendment 64, which would “regulate marijuana like alcohol,” had 54 percent of the vote with more than 85 percent counted. (It was outpolling President Obama, who carried the state, by almost 50,000 votes.) The measure will let people 21 or older possess up to an ounce or grow six plants, and the state will license growers and retailers.
“We’re glad to be the first state to set it off,” said Art Way of the Drug Policy Alliance of Colorado. “We hope we’re the tipping point for the nation.”
He credits the state’s experience with regulating medical-marijuana dispensaries for the initiative’s success. “The conversation has been going on in Colorado for the past seven or eight years, so we’ve laid the groundwork,” he said.
In Washington, Initiative 502 had 55 percent of the vote with more than half the ballots counted, buoyed by a 150,000-vote margin in Seattle. It will have the state Liquor Control Board license growers, processors, and stores. Buyers will pay a 25 percent sales tax, and stores can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school. It was somewhat controversial among marijuana users because it defines 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in the blood as evidence of drugged driving.