It’s not yet clear how a quasi-legal pot industry might operate in Colorado and Washington or what its public-health effects will be. It could be that these states are harbingers of a slow, national reassessment of marijuana policy. Or their experiment could serve as warning for the other 48 states. For now, the federal government does not need to stage an aggressive intervention, one way or the other. It can wait, watch and enforce the most worrisome violations as they occur.
Opponents of legalisation say it would be extremely difficult for the authorities to tell whether illicit varieties of cannabis sativa were being surreptitiously grown amid fields of the industrial hemp crop. However, according to Randy Fortenbery of Washington State University, who has studied the economic viability of hemp production, the voter initiatives in Washington and Colorado may make this a moot point.
Gurol said it’s unclear whether the city could institute an outright ban on marijuana outlets in city limits. The city currently has a moratorium on collective marijuana gardens for medical marijuana users and some councilmembers have discussed banning the gardens outright. Gurol said he was hopeful that the state legislature would clarify some of the gray area between the medical marijuana law and the new initiative.
When someone is arrested for a misdemeanor, they are searched and the contents of their pockets are removed, he said. If less than an ounce of marijuana is found in a suspect’s pocket during such an arrest, it’s not yet known what police should do with it, he said.
In two weeks, adults in this state will no longer be arrested or incarcerated for something that nearly 30 million Americans did last year. For the first time since prohibition began 75 years ago, recreational marijuana use will be legal; the misery-inducing crusade to lock up thousands of ordinary people has at last been seen, by a majority of voters in this state and in Colorado, for what it is: a monumental failure.
The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will dismiss five pending misdemeanor marijuana possession and paraphernalia charges following the passage of Initiative 502, which legalizes possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use.
"Obviously, we can't handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States - at least in part of the United States - it now has a different status," Luis Videgaray, President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto's top adviser, told journalists.
Since many people won’t admit to doing something illegal — such as smoking pot — Wood believes the survey under-reports marijuana use. He pegs B.C.’s annual domestic market in the range of $443 million to $564 million. Exporting into the U.S. brings in billions more each year.
Since the marijuana measures passed, the federal government has remained mostly silent on the issue, but members of law enforcement are asking President Barack Obama as well as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to respect these states' new marijuana legalization laws.
Medical marijuana continues to see increased use as part of a regimen for serious healthcare conditions. Credit unions must perform some serious risk analysis when approached by individuals or groups hoping to open business accounts for medical marijuana operations.
Counties across the state are dropping cannabis cases before I-502 takes effect, while few counties say they will continue to prosecute. Chelan, Kitsap, Okanogan, Thurston and Yakima counties will drop many pot cases.
"It's not going to be that much different," Enumclaw City Prosecutor Mike Reynolds said. "Alcohol and/or drugs that can cause intoxication are both already covered under state law. You can have a DUI for prescription medication. A DUI for marijuana isn't new. The only complication was in the THC blood level."
The individual rules will go into effect before the end of the year. Meanwhile, even eager entrepreneurs continue to wait until they know more. "You never want to be the first people to try anything in this industry," says Kayvan Khalatbari, co-founder of Denver Relief, a medical-marijuana dispensary based in Denver. "You're just begging for federal intervention."
Armed with that knowledge about why previous attempts had failed, campaigns in both Washington and Colorado set out to court women. Their efforts appear to have paid off. Both states approved measures legalizing marijuana with the backing of some 55 percent of the electorate. That was stronger than even proponents expected -- they had been cautiously optimistic about the Washington vote, but the Colorado measure appeared to be fading down the stretch.
A1 Heated Storage, a self-storage facility in Sedro-Woolley, Wash., has filed a second lawsuit against the city as owner Thomas Swett seeks approval to allow customers to grow medical marijuana in designated units. The suit asks for the approval of a conditional-use permit as well as reimbursement for legal fees and business losses amassed during Swett’s first legal battle over the issue.
The 6 November votes in Colorado and Washington left a lot of marijuana users happy and a lot of police officers nervous. And they set the two states up for a confrontation with the federal government, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Voters this month agreed to make marijuana legal for recreational use for adults 21 and up, but the new law gives no protection in the workplace. Show up with marijuana in your system — even residual amounts from a few weeks back — and there's no guarantee your boss will look the other way.
What is clear is that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In theory an army of DEA agents could swoop down on every joint-smoker in Washington or pot-grower in Colorado and haul them off to federal court and thence to federal prison. But that would require either a huge shift in Justice Department resources or a huge increase in federal marijuana enforcement funding, or both, and neither seems likely. More likely is selective, exemplary enforcement aimed at commercial operations, said one former White House anti-drug official.
In essence, by legalizing the sale and use of marijuana, the states of Colorado and Washington have essentially created an entirely new market for goods -- a legal market that will start at zero, and post literally exponential sales growth for years, until it reaches some kind of equilibrium. (Assuming, of course, the FBI and DEA stand aside -- technically, at least, marijuana possession is still a federal crime.)
The leaders of the No on 502 campaign filed more complaints with the state Public Disclosure Commission, this time against Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.
Endorsers included two former U.S. attorneys, the former head of the Seattle’s FBI office, Seattle’s City Attorney, and both candidates for Sheriff in King County, which includes Seattle. Opposition from law enforcement officials in the state was muted, reflecting in part that many of them recognize the futility of current marijuana laws. The Children’s Alliance, a statewide advocacy group, also backed 502 because of the impact of marijuana arrests in breaking up families and harming communities of color.
Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker is joining other prosecutors around the state in deciding not to prosecute any new marijuana possession cases.
"We've had decades of studies and experience with alcohol," said Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon. "Marijuana is new, so it's going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it be drugs or alcohol."
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer says that as along as pot remains illegal, he will keep prosecuting the crime.
In response to a new law legalizing marijuana, Clark County prosecutors said Tuesday they will dismiss misdemeanor possession of marijuana cases against approximately 46 defendants.
Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran is not taking a stance, at this point, on how to move forward with active charges of marijuana possession after the passage of Initative 502.
On Friday, the elected prosecutors of King and Pierce counties, the state's two largest, announced they will dismiss more than 220 pending misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, retroactively applying provisions of Initiative 502 that kick in Dec. 6.
Senior administration officials acknowledged Friday that they are wrestling with how to respond to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, which directly violates federal drug law and is sparking a broad debate about the direction of U.S. drug policy.
A naturopath lost her license to practice medicine for two years for improperly doling out medical-marijuana authorizations at last year's Hempfest in Seattle.
With the passage of Initiative 502 (I-502), adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess one ounce of marijuana in Washington state. Students at the UW, however, will see little change on campus. The current UW policy states that any use or possession of illicit drugs on the university campus will result in strict penalties including prison time and the loss of federal benefits such as student loans.
I-502 establishes precedent for growing, processing, retailing and possessing marijuana. Essentially, a system will be built from the ground up. The initiative provides the WSLCB until December 1, 2013 to craft rules for implementation.