At eight o’clock this morning, Iraq War Veteran Sean Azzariti stepped up to the counter at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver and made the first ever legal marijuana purchase in the United States. He didn’t have to show a medical marijuana program card, proving he paid a fee and consulted a doctor, he simply flashed his driver’s license to confirm he was over 21 and bought his cannabis products. This is a first for Sean, who uses cannabis to treat his PTSD, as his ailment was not an authorized qualifying condition for the Colorado medical marijuana program.
The first purchase? 3.5 grams of Bubba Kush and a marijuana infused truffle. Total cost? 58.74 with tax included ($40 plus tax for the Kush and $9.28 plus tax for the truffle. You can view his receipt he tweeted out here.)
So far, the 34 stores that were open for business today are reporting massive lines, but no real problems. The sky has yet to fall, drivers aren’t crashing continuously into buildings, violence has not erupted in the streets. Maybe it is possible, after decades of scare mongering, that regulation just might be the better alternative after all? The program is still in it’s beginning stages, and will naturally need fine tuning along the way, but so far it is already looking like a widely better solution than prohibition ever was. Judging by the lines that extended far outside the door and around the building at all of the retail locations, Coloradans seem to be very eager to give regulation a chance. Let’s work together to ensure this program works and that it sets the shining example for all other states to follow in the coming years nationwide.
Congratulations to Colorado and all those who worked so hard to get us to this point. It is truly a historic day.
This week, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed two historic measures into law, making Colorado the first state in the country to officially authorize a legalized and regulated cannabis market.
These measures, House Bills 1317 and 1318, are the first-in-the nation regulations governing the statewide commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to those age 21 and older. HB 1317 establishes a regulatory framework for retail cannabis businesses, which are anticipated to begin operating in early 2014. House Bill 1318 proposes tax rates for commercial marijuana production and sales.
These regulations were drafted by the legislature with guidance from a task force, created at the request of the Governor. Colorado NORML served on this task force as a representative for marijuana consumer interests.
The Colorado Department of Revenue is anticipated to more details for the program in the coming weeks. The proposed tax rates in HB 1318 must be approved by a majority of state voters. They seem likely to do so, as recent polling revealed that 77% of Colorado voters support the 15% excise tax on cannabis sales (which is designated for school construction) and an additional 10% sales tax to cover the costs of regulating the industry.
The regulations in House Bill 1317 would require marijuana retail outlets to license with the state and for the first nine months, only currently operating medical marijuana dispensaries can apply. Owners must also be Colorado residents. Initially, these stores must sell marijuana that they cultivated themselves, but by October 2014 this restriction will be lifted to allow independent growers and retail outlets. State residents will be able to purchase up to one ounce of usable marijuana at a time, while out of state visitors will be capped at one quarter ounce per purchase. Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would be legalized for everyone over the age of 21, regardless of residency.
For more information on Colorado’s marijuana program, click here.
Tuesday night, the states of Colorado and Washington sent a loud and clear message to the federal government that they no longer wish to enforce the futile prohibition on cannabis. The symbolic impact of these victories are immediate, but what are the practical effects on the ground now that these two initiatives have been approved?
In Washington State, regulations for the marijuana retail outlets are going to start being drafted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. This process is expected to last about a year. The immediate impact of passing I-502 is on the state laws regarding possession. Starting on December 6th, Section 20 of the initiative will take effect. This section effectively states that any person over the age of 21 is legally allowed to possess up to 1oz of dried marijuana, 16oz of marijuana solids (edibles), and 72oz of cannabis infused liquids (think oils and lotions). It is also no longer a crime to possess marijuana paraphernalia.
Law enforcement representatives in the state have already released some statements on this matter. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, from the Seattle Police Department, said, “For us, the law has changed, and people can expect no enforcement for possession.”
“What you can expect,” Sgt. Whitcomb clarified, “is no enforcement on possession, that is a reasonable expectation.”
The vote in Colorado is awaiting final certification, a process that is expected to take about a month. After this approval, it will immediately become legal in Colorado for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and for them to grow up to 6 plants in a secure indoor space.
The state is required to adopt a legal framework for retail sales by July of 2013, the first marijuana retail outlets could potentially open as early as the start of 2014.
Colorado’s law enforcement seems just as keen as Washington’s, for the time being, to honor the will of the people. “We’re not federal agents,” stated Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, who opposed Amendment 64 during the campaign.
“We can arrest people if they’re wanted on warrants on federal crimes, but unless we’re involved in a specific case … where (a deputy is) cross-commissioned as a federal agent,” he said, “we don’t directly enforce federal law.”
While he ended his statement with a patronizing jab, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper seems willing to abide by the desire of his state’s citizens on this issue. “The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday night.
“This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said,” he ended, “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
These protections in both states, when certified and placed into effect, will apply to anyone physically in the state, no residency required. Public consumption would remain a violation in both states, but a civil, not criminal, one.
As always, NORML will keep you posted as these laws become certified and come into effect and will be tracking the process of implementing retail outlets every step of the way.
We are entering the final week before Election Day and our efforts to educate Americans about marijuana law reform have never been more important. Polls show that victory is within grasp with Colorado’s Amendment 64, Washington’s I-502, and Massachusetts’ Question 3 all recently tracking towards a win, but it will still be a close race to the finish in all states.
Help us raise awareness for these important initiatives and Smoke the Vote next Tuesday by helping us take the message viral in the final stretch. Below you will find one simple action you can take each day before the election to help promote marijuana legalization. Let your friends and family know that you stand for rational reforms to marijuana policy and remind them to get out and vote!
1 – Wednesday, October 31st
2 – Thursday, November 1st
SMOKE THE VOTE
3 – Friday, November 2nd
Spend a Friday night in, preferably with friends and family, calling voters for Amendment 64 and Measure 80. You can either call voters in support of these initiatives by yourself, from anywhere in the country -or- you can pool your efforts and set up a phone banking party. At your disposal are SSDP and NORML’s phone bank to dial voters under 30 for Amendment 64 and JustSayNow‘s phone bank to call voters over 30 (also allows for dialing for Oregon’s Measure 80!)
4 – Saturday, November 3rd
Share the latest campaign ads! Post them to Facebook, tweet them at celebrities, email them to your grandparents, post one to your blog…just spread them as far and wide as you can. If you live in one of the states voting on an initiative or can directly target people you know who are, all the better.
WASHINGTON I-502: It’s Just Common Sense
COLORADO Amendment 64: Veteran’s for Amendment 64 OREGON: MEASURE 80 ARKANSAS: VOTE YES ON ISSUE 5 MASSACHUSETTS: YES ON QUESTION 3
5 – Sunday, November 4th
Share NORML’s Smoke the Vote Guide with your social networks. Remind everyone to confirm their voter registration and to check their current polling location, as it may have changed since they last cast a ballot. They can also get caught up on all the marijuana related voter initiatives and view the presidential candidates stances on cannabis.
Post something like:
Did you know the election is on Tuesday?! Check out this page to confirm your registration, find your polling place, and learn if you can vote on marijuana law reform on November 6th. Smoke the Vote!
6 – Monday, November 5th
Pledge to make some final “Get Out The Vote” calls! You can RSVP for a specific time slot here and get an email reminder when it is almost your scheduled time. These final calls are crucial to reminding our supporters to get to the polling booth and they are our final chance to persuade them to support our efforts! If you can’t make phone calls, can you at least pledge to personally email or facebook message 10 of your friends about the election? Anything you can do to help in the final hours of the campaigns take us another step towards legalization.
7 – Tuesday, November 6th ELECTION DAY!
Get out the vote! Share all the above images and videos. Tweet reminders to your friends to #SmokeTheVote (#YesOn64 #YesOn502 #YesOn80). If you live in a state with in-person election day voting, offer to drive your friends, family, and coworkers to the polls. Turn out is extremely important, we have to make sure everyone knows to get out and cast their ballot and to vote YES on the marijuana law reform initiatives.
After you’ve nagged everyone who will listen, dragged your last friend to the polling station, and cast a ballot yourself, come home and tune into www.blog.norml.org – we will be having live election night coverage giving you the latest from our contacts on the ground, exit polling, first results, and more!
Together, we can do this. Together, we WILL legalize marijuana. Let’s start on November 6th.
With just one week left until the election, there have been some recent news to report on, including two new campaign ads and several new polls.
New Approach Washington, the campaign behind the state’s I-502 to regulate marijuana, has released a new television ad focusing on the ways regulation will help control youth use. In the ad, a Washington mother discusses the issues of the black market and how cannabis legalization can help protect our children. “Young people have easy access to marijuana, and of course drug dealers don’t check IDs,” she states of the current system of prohibition. Regulating marijuana would help solve these problems, she says, it is “just common sense.”
You can view this new advertisement below:
Polling data released last week by Strategies 360 had I-502 at 54% support with opposition trailing at 38%.
The campaign in Colorado supporting Amendment 64 has also released a new television ad, this one focusing on the issues facing our veterans suffering from PTSD. The commercial features a father and returning veteran who is unable to procure the cannabis he needs for his condition under Colorado’s medical marijuana laws. Under the current law, patients suffering with PTSD do not qualify for access, but Amendment 64 would remove criminal penalties for possession and would provide them places of safe retail venues at which to procure their medicine.
“Please vote YES on Amendment 64 so that other vets don’t have to suffer.”
In other news from Colorado, the latest polling from PPP had Amendment 64 leading by ten points, 53% support to 43% opposition. Help us take Colorado to victory by utilizing our online phone banking programs and begin calling Colorado voters from the comfort of your home today! Each dial results in a person that is more likely to vote, and more likely to vote YES. You can use SSDP and NORML’s phonebank to dial voters under 30, or the JustSayNow phonebank for voters over 30.
New polling data out of Oregon shows the number of undecided voters is diminishing. Data just released by The Oregonian has support for Measure 80, which would end the state’s marijuana prohibition, at 42% with 49% opposed and 8% still undecided. Previous polling had Measure 80 with 37% support and 41% opposition with 22% undecided. You can help push Measure 80 to success by using JustSayNow’s online phone bank to call voters in Oregon by clicking here.
The latest polling out of Massachusetts still has their medical marijuana initiative, Question 3, with a strong lead over its opposition. In data released this week by Suffolk University/7NEWS, Massachusetts voters support Question 3 by a margin of 55% to 36%. This is a slight drop in support from polls earlier in the year, but still very much on the track for passage.
The latest polling data coming out of Arkansas shows a rough fight ahead for their ballot initiative to legalize the medical use of marijuana. In a poll conducted Thursday, October 18th, by TalkBusiness and Hendrix College had support for Issue 5 at just 38%, with opposition at 54% and 8% are undecided.
For more information on the initiative and on how you can help legalize medical use of cannabis in Arkansas this November, please visit the campaign’s website at www.arcompassion.com
Learn more about the local initiatives up for vote in Michigan here.
Don’t forget to get out and vote! Find your polling place, check your registration status, and read about all the state and local initiatives by using NORML’s 2012 voter guide, Smoke the Vote.