Colorado has long been known for its mountains, amazing snow-skiing, and stunning scenery. Now, it's famous for something very different. And its not exactly something to put on their license plate...not just yet anyway. To all the "stoners" out there, Colorado welcomes your visit. So put down the Cheetos and water bong and stop on in to your neighborhood marijuana dispensary. Because now, in Colorado, it's legal to get lit! Even Willie Nelson gives his approval.
Marijuana, or cannabis, has been grown for hundreds of years all over the globe. In the United States it was grown legally until the 1930's when the federal government turned its sights to pot after the end of Prohibition.
— Legalize Marijuana (@IegaIization) January 1, 2014
Even now, it is against federal law for anyone to grow, possess, smoke, etc marijuana. However, on December 10th, 2012, when Colorado passed the voter-approved Amendment 64 to the U.S. Constitution, the state became the first state to turn its proverbial nose up at the feds and legalize marijuana. Can the government still come to Colorado and arrest those individuals partaking in the pot craze? Absolutely. State law does not trump federal law - even with the a constitutional amendment.
In a memo, written on August 29th, 2013, the United States Attorney General stated that it is "committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats" meaning that the federal government does not plan on mixing it up with state and local mandates. With that, Cole went on to highlight eight guidelines that the government will enforce.
- Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
- Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
- Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state state law in some form to other states;
- Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
- Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
- Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
- Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangters posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
- Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
So while you're not likely to be arrested by a federal agent for getting stoned in your living room, you'll still have to abide by the long list of restraints placed upon the popular drug. Some of the restraints include having to be 21 to purchase, quantity restrictions per purchase, and especially WHERE you can smoke. Unlike Amsterdam, where hash is smoked in coffee shops and the like, Colorado's Clean Air Act applies to tobacco AND marijuana smoke. Add in the laws that govern illegal substances at airports, national parks and the like and your living room really is the ONLY safe place to smoke your weed. A living room in Colorado, at least.
Will the new legalization laws have a direct on crime in Colorado, problems with kids in school, gang-related issues, trafficking turf wars, traffic violations and hospital visits? It may take years to fully know for sure. Some studies show that those using marijuana are less likely to abuse alcohol - so perhaps it could be a good thing.
With all change comes push back. It's inevitable. Sometimes the push back is warranted, sometimes not. When change involves our health and the well being of our children, one must beg the question - is it worth it? Is reducing the amount of stoners in jail, increasing tax revenue for the economy, and growing jobs a suitable trade in for the drastic increase and availability of an illegal substance (except Colorado and Washington) in our children's world? Some would argue that the drug is already out there; kids and adults alike know everything there is to know about the wonderful world of marijuana.
Perhaps it could be equated with Sunday alcohol sales. Cities and states across the U.S. struggled with this issue for decades and many cities, especially those in the southeastern Bible belt, still do not allow alcohol sales on Sundays. For those cities that passed the ability to sell on Sunday, their economy grew markedly and crime rates actually dropped in some places. Reason being, it was speculated, that people didn't have to drive hours to get their liquor and be drunk by the time they got home - endangering countless lives on the road during their trek. But those cities that remain steadfast hold tightly to the belief that allowing sales on Sunday will kill everyone. Society will crumble. Alcoholics will run rampant. By that way of thinking, citizens should be humiliated. Alcoholics, just like potheads, will partake whether its against the law or not. Period. End of story. All you're doing is deciding whether or not you're going to capitalize on it or let someone else reap the profits. So would it be fair to say that an upside of legalizing marijuana could be that our kids won't be subject to as many drug dealers looking to push their pot? Maybe.
Regardless of the federal government and push back and local objectives, the question on everyone's mind remains the same. Will our state be next? You might want to start redesigning your license plates and state mottos, because it seems like the push for pot is here to stay. Time will tell.
Image via Wikimedia Commons