On Nov. 6,a groundbreaking amendment to the Colorado State Constitution passed in what many are calling a small step for mankind, but a giant leap for stoners everywhere.
Amendment 64, initiated by the citizens of Colorado, calls for the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.
A similar measure in Washington state also passed, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. It will allow the “personal use and regulation of marijuana” for adults 21 and over.
As for Colorado’s amendment, people can now grow up to six mature cannabis plants privately in a locked space and can legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
The amendment allows for a commercial, recreational marijuana industry as well, making it legal for licensed businesses to cultivate, manufacture and sell the product.
Amendment 64 requires the Colorado General Assembly to enact an excise tax on the wholesale sales of marijuana and requires that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually be given to the public school capital construction fund.
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement following the election. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through.”
It has been stated that wrongful consumption will be treated in a manner similar to alcohol, with equivalent offenses given for driving while under the influence, according to the Colorado Constitution.
Advocates of the amendment stress how it will reduce teen use of marijuana, as well as eradicate illegal drug cartels once enacted.
With an expected annual $60 million in combined savings and additional revenue, as well as the creation of thousands of jobs, the amendment appears to have many economic benefits, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
However, marijuana still remains an illegal drug under federal law. The question that remains on everyone’s mind is how the federal government will react to Amendment 64.
“Federal law is supreme if it is valid. However, the states can pass laws that are contradictory,” explains Bill Schrier, AP Government and Politics teacher. “If state legislature does contradict federal law, there are three possible options. The federal government will squash it, they will let it go, or the courts will rule that the federal law isn’t valid.”
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has given his reluctant support for the amendment, releasing a statement saying, “voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution.”
As of now it is a waiting game to see how exactly, if at all, the federal government is planning to react to Amendment 64.