Two states legalize marijuana
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 00:11
Some Californians must have been green with envy when Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana on Nov. 6.
Colorado and Washington’s new measures, however, leave both states open for a Supreme Court battle with the federal government, as the drug’s legalization put them in violation of federal law.
Cal State Long Beach political science professor Mary Caputi said the measure could definitely be challenged.
“There is definitely a legal question here,” Caputi said. “It’s very comparable to the defense of marriage act and states legalizing same sex marriage. If someone does, we are looking at Superior Court case where this can be decided if it is definitively a state or a federal issue.”
According to the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, cannabis is a Schedule I substance — the category for drugs with “high potential for abuse, no accredited medical use and lacks accepted safety.” Within the jurisdiction of this federal law, the possession and distribution of marijuana remains a crime in the United States.
Under Washington State’s newly passed initiative on marijuana reform (I-502), anyone older than 21 can legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana in the state beginning Dec. 6. Marijuana can also be sold legally once state officials finish devising an adequate system for issuing licenses for processing the drug.
Colorado’s ballot measure for regulating marijuana is similar, but it also allows each person to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their homes for personal use.
“Personally, I’m in favor of legalizing [marijuana] in small amounts for recreational use as long as people can use it responsibly, in a way that is not harmful to minors,” Caputi said.
Both states have their eyes on the tax revenue that legalizing marijuana would bring to each respective states’ budgets, according to each measure.
In 2010, marijuana was almost legalized in California with close to half of the state’s voters opting for Proposition 19, according to the Secretary of State website. However, the proposition still failed.
Junior environmental science major Steve Steffes said that California should have taken the lead two years ago.
“It didn’t pass [in California] last time, but I feel like it will next time,” Steffes said. “Most people don’t get through college without trying it at least once anyway, and a lot of people I know do it and still keep up good grades. The state would be able to make as much money on marijuana as it does on alcohol.”
James Le, a sophomore biochemistry major, said he thinks legalizing marijuana is a smart idea for both Washington and Colorado and that California should follow their lead.
“If the state legalizes marijuana, they can regulate taxes on it and generate some sort of income,” Le said. “State funding will go to schools as well, so if you look at it in that sense, it can only be good.”