Loading

Voters In Colorado and Washington Make History: Vote To Repeal Cannabis Prohibition

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 7, 2012

    Voters in Colorado and Washington on Election Day in favor of ballot measures that remove criminal and civil penalties for the adult possession of cannabis. The votes mark the first time ever that voters have decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.

    In Colorado, 55 percent of voters decided in favor of Amendment 64, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those persons age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. Initial returns show the measure passing with 54 percent support.

    In Washington, approximately 55 percent of voters decided in favor of I-502, which regulates the production and sale of limited amounts of marijuana for adults. The measure also removes criminal penalties specific to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. Initial returns indicate that 55 percent of voters backed the measure.

    State lawmakers in Colorado initially prohibited the possession of cannabis in 1917. Washington lawmakers initially outlawed the plant in 1923.

    Commenting on the historic votes, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Until now, no state law has defined cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But, until today, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.”

    Armentano continued: “The passage of these measures strikes significant blow to federal cannabis prohibition. Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. Alcohol prohibition fell when a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer engaging in the federal government’s bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the federal government had little choice but to abandon the policy altogether. Today, history begins to repeat itself.”

    Separate marijuana law reform measures proved to be equally popular among voters. In Massachusetts, 63 percent of voters approved Question 3, which eliminates statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. It also requires the state to create and regulate up to 35 facilities to produce and dispense cannabis to approved patients. Massachusetts is the 18th state since 1996 to authorize the physician-recommended use of cannabis.

    In Michigan, an estimated 65 percent of Detroit voters approved Measure M, which removes criminal penalties pertaining to the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over age 21.

    A statewide ballot measure to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabis in Arkansas appears to have narrowly failed by a vote of 49 percent to 51 percent. In Montana, a referendum that sought to ease legislative restrictions on the state’s medical marijuana law also failed. Oregon’s Measure 80, which sought to allow for the state-licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, garnered only 45 percent of the popular vote.

    The ballot measures in Colorado and Washington will take effect once the vote totals have been formally ratified, a process that typically takes up to 30 days.

    NORML will provide additional updates on various other local measures throughout the day. Stay tuned to the NORML blog for more information.

    112 Responses to “Voters In Colorado and Washington Make History: Vote To Repeal Cannabis Prohibition”

    1. Marvin says:

      GERMANY!!!!!!

    2. Ingvar Thorleifsson says:

      What will happen to those that have been convicted for cannabis related crimes up to the point of legalization?

    3. Jeedi says:

      Blackbird singing in the dead of night
      Take these broken wings and learn to fly
      All your life You were only waiting for this moment to arise
      Blackbird singing in the dead of night
      Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
      All your life You were only waiting for this moment to be free
      Blackbird fly, blackbird fly Into the light of the dark black night
      Blackbird fly, blackbird fly Into the light of the dark black night
      Blackbird singing in the dead of night
      Take these broken wings and learn to fly
      All your life You were only waiting for this moment to arise
      You were only waiting for this moment to arise
      You were only waiting for this moment to arise

    4. Paul says:

      Congratulations, NORML. You’re the best!

    5. Dave says:

      So close for Arkansas.

    6. Bren says:

      This is certainly a step in the right direction!
      Full legalization for all.
      End Marijuana Prohibition in the USA permanently.

    7. Bren says:

      I’m from this backward state of Georgia but that didn’t stop me from stoking one up in celebration for Colorado and one for Washington last night!

    8. Jim says:

      This is great. I think I’m going to be like Johnny Apple Seed. Start planting seed everywhere I go. Jimmy Pot Seed. Oh happy day. And for all those narrow minded, brainwashed picks that don’t like it. You can all just kiss a big red monkey’s axx.

      Thanks NORML

    9. Without the help of NORML, neither state would have succeeded!

      Thanks for all of your hard work, guys and gals of NORML!

    10. M6 says:

      Congratulations to all. I never thought I’d see the day, but we all know the fight is still not over. The Feds are not going to take this lightly. Will this be a classic case of State Law vs. Federal Law? Or will this be the exception to the rule? Never the less, thank you voters and supporters who made it possible.

    Leave a Reply