Washington Ends Prohibition of Marijuana, Colorado is Next but When? January 5, 2013 or Sooner?
In Washington state, as of today December 6, 2012 it is now legal for adults 21 or older to possess and consume marijuana. Coloradans voted on similar legislation, although before it is part of the state constitution Governor Hickenlooper must issue a proclamation.
The law in Washington state allows adults 21 or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use, although sale and growing is not yet legal. Initiative 502 covers responsible recreational use by adults beginning today. It will take a year for growing and selling marijuana is legal, leaving obvious questions.
The Washington Liquor Control Board said,
>"It begs the question, if they can't buy it through a medical marijuana shop, which only people with a prescription and medical marijuana license can, how do they get it? So I'm not sure where you're suppose to get it. If you stumble across some on the street or it falls from the sky, then you can have it. Otherwise, you are part of a criminal chain of distribution."
The King County prosecutor says growing and selling marijuana will still be prosecuted as a felony. Colorado's retail system and laws could come sooner due to the language of Amendment 64 and the excellent medical marijuana system.
Governor John Hickenlooper now has 30 days from today to issue his proclamation. Both states and others are asking the federal government what they are supposed to do. The Justice Department is 'reviewing' both pieces of legislation with the U.S. Attorney's Office and has said,
"Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations and courthouses."
Some predict the Justice Department will end up suing Colorado and Washington state over the The People's vote.
Smoking pot in public is like drinking on the street and could result in a civil infraction, although not arrest. Seattle police officers were told to give verbal warnings.
Twenty Western Slope businesses and groups, including Club 20 and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce shot off a letter to the U.S. Attorney General on November 30th, 2012 pleading with him to enforce federal marijuana laws. The law also leaves them, and employers in general, wondering about workplace drug laws. It puts employers in the middle of federal and state law, especially if they do business with the government - or you are a government employee.
Other states have expressed concern over the forthcoming Amendment in Colorado and the new laws in Washington state. Kansas in particular is already expecting an increase in marijuana offenses in counties that border Colorado.