The November 6 election gave way to recreational use of marijuana in two states. Colorado and Washington both voted to legalize the use of the controversial plant by a 55 to 45 percent margin. Pro marijuana advocates in California are hoping the new law in those states have a positive impact on their own state.
California was the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use in 1996. In 2010, Proposition 19
, also known as the Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act, was on the November 2nd, 2010 ballot. It was designed to legalize marijuana for personal use, while maintaining certain aspects of the law like trafficking and contributing to anyone under 21 years of age.
Advocates also highlighted the fiscal impact of revenues generated from the new tax. According to the California State Board of Equalization
, enforcing a $50 per ounce tariff on cannabis sales could generate $1.4 billion a year in new tax revenue, when California's government is in the red financially.
As of now, there are 18 states and the District of Columbia
that allow medical marijuana use. Although laws concerning use vary state by state, it does remove the criminality of use on a state level.
On a federal level is a different story. The Department of Justice
has maintained its stance on the issue. In a letter to retired personnel from the Drug Enforcement Administration
, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
wrote "Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19," and he would "vigorously enforce" federal law if California voters passed the measure, as reported by The Modesto Bee
In Montana, medical marijuana advocate Barb Trego refiled a proposal
to legalize recreational use of cannabis for her state for the 2014 election. Her first attempt lacked the necessary number of signatures to appear on the 2012 ballot.
Pro-marijuana advocates in Arkansas narrowly escaped victory on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act
a.k.a. Issue 5. Arkansas is considered the first southern state
to take up the issue.
As time passes, it is expected to see more funding and more people join forces for the legalization of marijuana. From doctors to law enforcement to cancer patients, the demand for legal use of cannabis, whether medical or recreational from a user's standpoint, or a fiscal standpoint by alleviating the caseload in a court system or tax revenue, it will most likely be voted on somewhere throughout this country in each coming election.