Marijuana becomes legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington
Following the recent election, voters in Colorado and Washington State have made it legal to smoke pot recreationally, without any prescription or medical reason. What has not been outlined are the rules, tax codes and other regulations for creating new state-licensed retail marijuana shops. Colorado’s marijuana law passed with 54 percent support, and Washington’s with 55 percent.
A similar vote failed in the state of Oregon, making Colorado and Washington the first states in the nation to approve marijuana for recreational purposes.
It’s not all good news. There is concern about a potential fight with the Federal Government, who still views recreational marijuana use as illegal and has taken steps in other states, such as Montana and California, to enforce regulations against medically allowable use of the drug.
The Federal Government, specifically the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), has refused to comment on the state’s legalization of marijuana. The government states that the nation’s drug laws have not changed and they DEA would potentially have more to say on the subject after they complete a review of the ballot’s measures.
Supporters of the measure hope that the Federal Government will follow the example of Colorado’s government, which has allowed the marijuana industry, specifically the medical industry, to operate without much interference.
What will the marijuana laws allow?
Citizens in the states of Colorado and Washington will now be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, assuming they are 21 years of age or older. They will also be allowed to grow up to six plants. Additionally, citizens in Washington will have to make marijuana purchases from providers who are licensed by the state.
Use of the drug will be restricted to private areas. Individuals will not be allowed to smoke in public areas.
Proponents of the changes in the laws believe that allowing the recreational use of marijuana will reduce the cost of marijuana law enforcement and potentially generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state.
Driving and Marijuana use in Colorado and Washington State
The real challenge for police in Washington and Colorado will be to keep stoned drivers off the roads. Police have voiced concern about the increase in impaired driving. Colorado did not make changes to their DUI laws. Washington did, however, establishing a new blood-test limit for marijuana — a limit police are training to enforce.
Unfortunately, testing for drug use can be more complicated than alcohol and is generally evidenced first by police observations and then later by a blood test. But everyone agrees that even though the laws for drug use were loosened, drugged driving was and continues to be illegal in both states. Nothing in the revision of the laws changes that.
Drivers who use marijuana and then drive may experience dizziness, reduced reaction time and the inability to control their car, all actions which can jeopardize the welfare of other drivers on the road. Review our DUI and Drugs page for more information.
If you are arrested for DUI for drug use you can expect to face criminal DUI charges and penalties which are as severe as those for driving under the influence of alcohol.
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