In a major victory for marijuana advocates on Tuesday, two states passed ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Both Colorado and Washington’s voters decided to legalize the drug, although a similar initiative failed in Oregon. Although analysts had accurately predicted the outcome of the vote in Washington, CNN says the Colorado approval was “more of a surprise” due to voters being evenly split in the polls.
The new Colorado law will allow adults over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or six marijuana plants for personal use. Washington’s initiative taxes the drug heavily, imposing a 25% tax rate three times during the growing, processing and retail stage. Analysts claim the initiative may bring in $500 million, although calculating the value of a currently illegal market is difficult and other experts have said “the actual result is anyone’s guess.”
Three other states faced ballot initiatives on medical marijuana. Montana and Arkansas voted not to allow medical marijuana in the states, with 57 percent of Montanans voting to ban medical marijuana. Alabama voters decided by a closer margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. Massachusetts voted to legalize medical marijuana, with 63 percent of voters in favor of the measure.
Despite the initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana, the actual legality of marijuana use is far from clear since federal law still considers marijuana illegal. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a statement reiterating this fact and telling voters, “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
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