Those who do not possess a medical marijuana card may not need one to smoke pot after November voting, because three states have measures on the ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol products, and sell it in stores to those of age. Colorado, Washington State and Oregon all have initiatives in place that will make the drug legal, but federal officials say that users will still be violating federal law.
This isn't really as bad as it sounds. Medical marijuana is also prohibited by federal law, with no medical benefit found. However, seventeen states now have medical marijuana legal, and it is likely that the rest will follow suit. However, federal officials are bearing down on the US Department of Justice to make a statement declaring his opposition for the initiatives. The call came from former DEA administrators and directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. With less than 30 days before the voting, Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to make a statement about the issue.
Peter Bensinger was the moderator of the conference call. He was the DEA administrator during the time of President Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He believes that states that legalize marijuana for recreational use could lead to a federal showdown. "Federal law, the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions say that this cannot be done because federal law preempts state law."
He also went on to talk a "bigger danger" to everyone. "Legalizing marijuana threatens public health and safety. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, drug driving arrests, accidents, and drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed. Drug treatment admissions are up and the number of teens using this gateway drug is up dramatically." This seems hard to believe, since a little research can find no actual cases of marijuana overdose that led to death.
A statement from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said in a statement
"We believe anything claimed by participants on the call today needs to be taken with many grains of salt. These people have made a living off marijuana prohibition and the laws that keep this relatively benign substance illegal. The nation wastes billions of taxpayer dollars annually on the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and people like Bill Bennett and John Walters are among the biggest cheerleaders for wasting billions more. The call today should be taken as seriously as an event by former coal industry CEOs opposing legislation curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. They are stuck in a certain mindset and no level of evidence demonstrating the weakness of their position will change their views."
According to recent polling in Washington and Colorado, it is likely that the measures will pass. The arguments in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use has been quite popular with voters across a range of age groups and ideologies. If Colorado passes amendment 64, marijuana would be taxed and regulated like alcohol and adults 21 and older could have up to an ounce and grow up to five plants. Analysts think that the tax revenue could be somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year.
If the initiative passes, these states will likely be testing grounds for other states who are considering marijuana initiative. However, it seems like it would be a very positive thing to take the money out of the hands of drug cartels and put it towards state projects instead, as well as cut law enforcement costs that have before gone towards enforcing marijuana laws. If the measures do not pass, it will be only those with a medical marijuana card that will be able to get the drug.
Photo: R0bz on Flickr.com