Update on Controversy over Legalization of Marijuana, Winter 2014
You’d expect to see a few problems crop up as Colorado and Washington state work the kinks out when comes to the legalization of marijuana in those states. And people have raised questions “about whether these pioneering states will be able to regulate and contain a drug that is still outlawed across the country,” according to an article titled “In 2 States, Corner Cannabis Store Nears Reality (12/14).” Questions include whether more teenagers will start smoking the drug now, that drug dealers will increase in these two states, and if the states’ reputations will be harmed. I even remember someone asking if there would be smokers’ trips to Colorado, and lo and behold, one public relations firm is advertising such a trip:
“Get Elevated™, a cannabis-oriented travel company based in Colorado Springs, CO, announces its Historic New Year’s Cannabis Tour to Denver, Colorado set to coincide with the first day that retail stores can legally sell recreational marijuana for the first time in the nation’s history.
The 5-night tour, December 30 – January 4, features visits to growers, retail shops and area attractions, as well as luxury hotel accommodations and VIP events. An educational component is also built into the agenda that ensures all participants are well informed about legal and safety issues. Price person is $1599 (based on double occupancy) “
I’d love to know what the legal and safety issues are.
In another development, an article titled “A Pot Editor Elicits Quips, but Paper’s Intent is Serious,” reports that The Denver Post has named a marijuana editor. Stephen Colbert made a joke on hearing that, and numerous other media outlets did as well.
The Post says their approach will be serious, however. “It’s going to affect politics, culture, crime, and food,” the editor said. The paper plans to write about “the history of marijuana regulation, the reaction of federal agents to the new law, and a look at the science behind the drug.” It’s a big issue in the state, understandably. The editor has already contacted other countries to talk about their policies, and Washington, to discuss working together on stories. He smokes pot, but says he’ll abide by the paper’s policy on drug use, which is abstinence, during his tenure there.
Colorado has decided that its residents can buy an ounce at a time, but people from other states can only buy a quarter ounce. People still can’t smoke pot in public, and they can’t transport it across state lines. The state has taxed operations heavily, which will help in overseeing the industry.
Arizona is currently in the process of collecting signatures to try and legalize marijuana, and according to an Associated Press article in my local paper, in November the Washington, D.C. Council was about to approve legislation that would make it legal to have a small amount of pot. Congressman Marion Barry noted the large number of black men there unfairly locked up as a result of getting caught with pot. People still wouldn’t be allowed to smoke pot on federal property, however.
Even cities have climbed on the bandwagon. Detroit and Flint passed measures legalizing pot in 2012, and three Michigan cities, Ferndale, Jackson, and Lansing, passed legislation stating that adult residents can smoke up to an ounce on private property. Portland, Maine’s ordinance allows adults over 21 to legally possess p to 2.5 ounces of pot. [Measures to Legalize Marijuana Are Passed, 11/7/2013, NYT]
Here’s an article that reports that worries about legalization in CA have proven to be unfounded yet does mention health dangers.
Wikipedia is not the best journalistic source, but for a look at what other countries have done (or are doing) regarding legalization of pot, look here. For example, in Ecuador, “Possession of under 10 grams is considered personal use and it is legal and not punished.”