Legal Battle Looms Over Marijuana Initiatives
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Legal Battle Looms Over Marijuana Initiatives
Posted by CN Staff on November 08, 2012 at 05:01:34 PT
By Sari Horwitz
Source: Washington Post
Washington, D.C. -- The approval of ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana in Washington state and Colorado left officials searching for guidance from the federal government on Wednesday, with major questions over whether the states could become the first in the nation to permit recreational use of the drug.The Justice Department said it was reviewing the initiatives but would not comment further on how it would respond. A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration said that its enforcement of federal law, which bans production, possession and sale of marijuana, “remains unchanged.”
The ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington state were a step beyond the measures that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in the District and 17 states, including Massachusetts, which passed such an initiative Tuesday.Colorado Amendment 64 allows individuals 21 and older to buy up to an ounce of marijuana at retail stores that are regulated. Washington’s Initiative 502 is similar and allows adults 21 and older to buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana, or small amounts of marijuana-infused products.In the run-up to the vote on the measures Tuesday, the Justice Department was unusually muted about the possible conflicts between federal and state laws should the initiatives pass, even as former DEA officials called on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to publicly oppose them.Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) on Wednesday signaled his awareness of those conflicts, cautioning voters that it would take time to deal with the implications of the initiative. “The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”Hickenlooper’s office called the Justice Department on Wednesday to get guidance on how the state should proceed. Eric Brown, a spokesman for Hickenlooper, said that Holder is scheduled to speak directly to the governor Thursday or Friday.Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) also indicated that she is uncertain about whether there will be a showdown with the federal government.“The voters have decided to decriminalize marijuana possession and tax its sale and we will follow the will of the people,” Gregoire said in a statement. “We are entering uncharted waters and many questions lie ahead as we work to implement this law. Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, we are unsure how the federal government will proceed.”Gregoire said that the state’s Liquor Control Board will be responsible for establishing the licensing and inspection procedures for the new measure over the next year.Colorado’s initiative will go into effect by Jan. 5, according to Brown. The state’s general assembly, which meets between January and May, must then pass legislation creating the regulatory framework for the new law. Under the measure, the state would begin accepting and processing license applications for sales by Oct. 1 and start issuing licenses by January 2014.Possession of marijuana would be legal, although it would not be legal to use the drug publicly.Supporters of the measures in both states argued that they would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, with the funds being used for education, health care and other government services. They also said that the initiatives would give proponents a chance to show that decriminalization of marijuana could benefit the country’s war on drugs.In Colorado, the measure was supported by more than 300 physicians in the state, including Bruce Madison, the former associate medical director of faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who said that current laws waste “hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed war on marijuana, by ruining thousands of lives by unnecessary arrest and incarceration, and by causing the deaths of hundreds of people killed in black-market criminal activities.”Opponents of the measures in both states warned of a federal crackdown and unauthorized drug use by children. They also argued that the states could attract “drug tourists.” A similar proposal legalizing marijuana use was on the ballot in Oregon but did not pass. In September, nine former DEA administrators wrote a letter to Holder expressing their concerns about the initiatives. The attorney general did not respond.“To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives,” wrote the former administrators, who oversaw the DEA under Democratic and Republican presidents from 1973 to 2007. “We urge you to take a public position on these initiatives as soon as possible.”The Justice Department can file suit to try to block state laws that it deems to have violated federal statutes. It did so, for example, after Arizona passed a law in 2010 that the state said was aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants but that the Obama administration believed was unconstitutional. On Wednesday, Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre would not comment on whether a lawsuit is being considered. “The Department of ­Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives, and we have no additional comment at this time,” Chitre said.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Sari HorwitzPublished: November 8, 2012Copyright: 2012 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on November 08, 2012 at 16:55:51 PT
NORML's Cannabis Election Results
Voters In Colorado and Washington Make History: Vote To Repeal Cannabis Prohibition. 
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 Legalization Wins Big On Election Day. 
Thursday, 08 November 2012 { 
Commenting on the historic votes, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Until now, no state law has defined cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But, until today, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults."
}Good summary of cannabis law wins and losses at state and city elections across the U.S.A.
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2012 at 09:45:22 PT
"This reporter is no dope"To whom it may concern: Chris Walsh is a talented business journalist who does not smoke pot.If you give Walsh a pre-employment drug test, the only thing you will find in his pee is newspaper ink.Walsh is the son of a longtime correspondent for U.S. News & World Report. He started out as an intern for the New York Times. He worked at two formerly great newspapers where I also had the misfortune to work: the Gazette in Colorado Springs (whose parent company went bankrupt) and the Rocky Mountain News (which no longer exists).Walsh moved to Seoul for a time, to redefine his career in an ailing industry. He became editor of an English-language publication called the Korea JoongAng Daily.If that's not exotic enough for you, when Walsh returned to his native Colorado last year, he found a job as editor of the Medical Marijuana Business Daily. He also organized the National Marijuana Business Conference 2012 in what Coloradans like to call the Mile High City.The conference is drawing more than 350 attendees to the Sherman Street Event Center this week. It is geared toward investors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals who are contemplating the very uncertain future of this budding industry.Voters just approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington state. Additionally, Massachusetts became the 18th state to approve marijuana for medical uses.Yes, it's all still a crime as far as the feds are concerned. But that hasn't stopped entire industries from emerging around weed. Walsh just happens to have landed one of these new, green jobs.Cont.
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2012 at 09:40:35 PT
In Colorado,
Cannabis got MORE votes than Obama.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 08, 2012 at 09:04:22 PT
The news is covering marijuana and I hope this will make him think about it more.
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Comment #5 posted by BGreen on November 08, 2012 at 08:54:44 PT
Cannabis got 9,550 votes less than Obama
but cannabis got 261,179 more votes than Romney!The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 08, 2012 at 08:49:59 PT
Hopefully not.
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Comment #3 posted by BGreen on November 08, 2012 at 08:37:26 PT
Take a look at the Washington numbers so far!
If this doesn't answer the question as to whether Obama will attack the residents of Washington, look at these numbers from the Washington Secretary of State:Initiative Measure No. 502 Concerns marijuanaYes 1,177,706 - 55.35%No   950,081 - 44.65%Total Votes 2,127,787 - 100%President/Vice PresidentBarack Obama / Joe Biden Democratic Party Nominees1,187,256 - 55.25%Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan Republican Party Nominees916,527 - 42.65%************************************************Obama got less than 10,000 votes more than cannabis! Do you think he can ignore that?The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 08, 2012 at 07:01:08 PT
The End of The War on Marijuana
November 8, 2012(CNN) -- The historic measure to regulate and tax marijuana in Washington State deserves to be looked at closely as a model of how legalization ought to be designed and implemented elsewhere in America. 
We've turned a significant corner with the approval of Initiative 502, which purposefully offers a true public health alternative to the criminal prohibition of pot.
 For the first time in a very long time, the well-intended but failed criminal penalties to protect public health and safety will be set aside. Adults who choose to use marijuana and obtain it through legal outlets will no longer be faced with the threat of criminal sanctions. People of color will no longer face the egregious inequities in how marijuana criminal penalties are imposed. Parents, as they help prepare their children for the choices they face concerning marijuana, will no longer be hobbled by misinformation about the drug and the absence of effective supports to encourage abstinence.Snipped:URL:
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on November 08, 2012 at 05:57:48 PT
Dear DEA,
The American people have spoken: You are a joke!Get Real!You can't fight the popular vote, you can't fight the American people, and you can't keep arresting everyone for 'possession' please give it up and get real.Thank you!
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