Three States Go All-in for Marijuana this November

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With the national news spotlight on the Romney and Obama campaigns, it’s easy to miss some of the intense political battles happening at the state level. This year’s election will see three states with proposals to decriminalize marijuana for personal, non-medical use within their borders.

Washington State

Initiative 502 would legalize the production, possession, delivery and distribution of marijuana and regulate sale (and tax) to people 21 and older. “Grow farms” and food processors using marijuana in their products would be licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The measure also adds a penalty for motorists caught driving with more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in their system.

Colorado

Amendment 64 would change the Colorado State Constitution and legalize marijuana in the state. It allows possession of up to one ounce for those 21 and older, and it regulates marijuana sales but leaves the details up the State Legislature. It also authorizes city governments to regulate marijuana within their borders. A similar measure failed in 2006.

Oregon

Oregon’s initiative allows for commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana through licensed facilities and permits citizens to cultivate and consume small amounts on their own. It authorizes a commission to regulate the trade. The proposed commission would act as a broker, both licensing and purchasing crops for further distribution in Oregon. The measure also legalizes hemp.

Opening a can of worms

While none of these measures may pass, if any do it opens a real can of worms legally. It is unknown what the federal response will be, but these legalization measures fly in the face of the U.S. Constitutional authority to tax and regulate substances like marijuana under the commerce clause. Commentators predict that any ballot measure that succeeds will face an immediate injunction and request for a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stay tuned…

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