While President Barack Obama was busy winning another four years in the White House, another important vote was taking place in three states. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were voting to legalize recreational marijuana use.
The outcome: Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana while Oregon voters rejected a similar measure.
For those of us who support the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use, this is an important step in the process. It shows that people are finally realizing that this could be a step in the right direction for the United States.
On the other hand, the federal government has yet to budge. At this time, they still consider marijuana an illicit drug – and this is not set to change anytime in the near future.
So, where does this leave us?
Although the people of these states have spoken (through their right to vote) there is a long road ahead. Getting the federal government on board is not going to be a simple task. In fact, many feel that it will be downright impossible.
Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration’s drug czar, had this to say:
“They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition.”
On the other side of things, there is the argument that this was a necessary first step in winning the long-term battle.
Despite federal opposition, Colorado and Washington allowed residents to vote to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use.
States still have Rights
Even though the federal government may be opposed to the legalization of marijuana in these areas, it is important to remember that each individual state still has the ability to make its own decisions.
For example, these states are free to eliminate their own penalties for marijuana possession and use – even if the federal government does not agree.
The problem that worries supporters is that U.S. Attorneys could send letters to state governors, warning that they should not implement any changes to regulate recreational use or tax the stores that would sell the drug.
In Colorado, it was well known that Governor John Hickenlooper was opposed to legalization in his state. However, now that the vote has been cast he said he will respect the outcome.
Back in Time to the Days of Alcohol Prohibition
It is safe to say that most of the people reading this were not around during the alcohol prohibition period of the late 1920s. However, there are some similarities.
For example, these victories in Colorado and Washington are similar to individual states repealing their own prohibition laws nearly 100 years ago. As each state made its own changes, the pressure to repeal federal prohibition continued to grow.
Will history repeat itself? Will the legalization of marijuana eventually win out, much in the same way as alcohol prohibition?
If nothing else, it is easy to see that this is a move in the right direction. I’m happy to read and respond to your comments and opinions on the topic of legalized recreational marijuana use if you’ll leave them for me in the comments section below…