Election 2012: How Pot, Porn and Punishment Initiatives Fared with Voters
(CBS) Smoke it if you got it. That was the message voters in Colorado and Washington sent Tuesday when they approved state ballot initiatives effectively legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults - the first time such a law has passed in the United States.
Across the country, voters Tuesday also weighed in on other matters of criminal justice, including the death penalty, assisted suicide, condom use on porn sets, and the three-strikes sentencing law. Here's how these measures went down...or up:
The Denver Post reports that Colorado's Amendment 64 passed with just over 54 percent of the vote. The new law allows that "the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol." The measure allows adults to buy and possess up to one ounce of the drug, and to grow up to six marijuana plants in an "enclosed, locked space."
In Washington, the Seattle Times reports that Initiative 502 passed with approximately 55 percent of the vote. The state's law "authorizes the state liquor control board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age and older, and add[s] a new threshold for driving under the influence of marijuana."
In a statement issued after the votes were counted in Colorado and Washington, Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit advocacy group that supports the reform of drug laws, touted the "historic significance" of the states' moves away from marijuana prohibition.
"This is now a mainstream issue," Nadelmann stated, continuing, "with citizens more or less divided on the issue but increasingly inclined to favor responsible regulation of marijuana over costly and ineffective prohibitionist policies."
Marijuana, however, remains an illegal, schedule one narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Although President Obama's Department of Justice released a memo in 2009 indicating it would not be an administration priority to raid medical marijuana dispensaries complying with state law, the raids haven't stopped.
In a statement issued this morning, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency affirmed that the agency's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act "remains unchanged":
"The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives and we have no additional comment at this time."
Colorado governor John Hickenlooper told CBS News anchor Scott Pelley on Tuesday night that he was mindful of the federal law and anticipated challenges in implementing the initiative.
"I'm not sure we can make it as legal as the voters would like us to do," he told Pelley. "But clearly the will of the voters spoke."