History was made once again today when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an Executive Order that makes an “official declaration of the vote” related to Amendment 64. This declaration formalizes the amendment as part of the state Constitution and makes legal the personal use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana under Colorado law for adults 21 years of age and older.
“Voters were loud and clear on Election Day,” Gov. Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “We will begin working immediately with the General Assembly and state agencies to implement Amendment 64.”
Colorado joins Washington as the first two states in modern history to legalize the consumption of cannabis by adults.
As of today, the following acts are no longer unlawful under Colorado state law for persons 21 years of age or older:
(a) POSSESSING, USING, DISPLAYING, PURCHASING, OR TRANSPORTING MARIJUANA ACCESSORIES OR ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA.
(b) POSSESSING, GROWING, PROCESSING, OR TRANSPORTING NO MORE THAN SIX MARIJUANA PLANTS, WITH THREE OR FEWER BEING MATURE, FLOWERING PLANTS, AND POSSESSION OF THE MARIJUANA PRODUCED BY THE PLANTS ON THE PREMISES WHERE THE PLANTS WERE GROWN, PROVIDED THAT THE GROWING TAKES PLACE IN AN ENCLOSED, LOCKED SPACE, IS NOT CONDUCTED OPENLY OR PUBLICLY, AND IS NOT MADE AVAILABLE FOR SALE.
(c) TRANSFER OF ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA WITHOUT REMUNERATION TO A PERSON WHO IS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER.
(d) CONSUMPTION OF MARIJUANA, PROVIDED THAT NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PERMIT CONSUMPTION THAT IS CONDUCTED OPENLY AND PUBLICLY OR IN A MANNER THAT ENDANGERS OTHERS.
(e) ASSISTING ANOTHER PERSON WHO IS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER IN ANY OF THE ACTS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPHS (a) THROUGH (d) OF THIS SUBSECTION.
Governor Hickelnlooper also announced today the formation of 24-member task force to oversee the implementation of the law, which ultimately mandates for the commercial production and sale of cannabis by those licensed to do so. A representative of Colorado NORML sits on this task force.
As I previously wrote last week, to be clear: This is not decriminalization — a policy change that amends criminal penalties for minor marijuana offenses, but that continues to define cannabis as illegal contraband under the law and subjects its consumers to civil penalties. Today in Colorado, like in Washington, cannabis — when possessed in private by an adult in specific quantities — is a legal commodity. And it is likely that there is very little that the federal government can do to stop it. States are not mandated to criminalize marijuana or arrest adult cannabis consumers and the federal government cannot compel prosecutors in Colorado or Washington to do otherwise.
The voters have spoken and change is upon us. Can you smell the freedom?
Voters in four Michigan cities — totaling over a million people — will also decide on Tuesday whether to legalize or depenalize the adult use of cannabis.
In Flint, Michigan voters will decide on a citizens’ initiative to amend the city code so that the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana or cannabis paraphernalia by those age 19 or older is no longer a criminal offense.
Grand Rapids voters will act on Proposal 2, which seeks to allow local law enforcement the discretion to ticket first-time marijuana offenders with a civil citation, punishable by a $25 fine and no criminal record.
In Ypsilanti, voters will decide on a proposal to make the local enforcement of marijuana possession offenses the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.
Under state law, possessing cannabis is a criminal misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
More information on this year’s cannabis-centric state and local initiatives may be found at NORML’s Smoke the Vote page here.
Possessing and cultivating personal use amounts of cannabis should no longer be a criminal offense, according to the recommendations of a six-year study released last week by a coalition of leading British drug policy experts, treatment specialists, and law enforcement.
The study, commissioned by the UK Drug Policy Commission, argues that decriminalizing minor cannabis offenses will reduce police and prosecutorial costs without adversely impacting levels of illicit drug use. The UK Drug Policy Commission is an independent charity “that provides objective analysis of the evidence concerning drug policies and practice.”
According to the study, criminal penalties for cannabis “could be replaced with simple civil penalties, such as a fine, perhaps a referral to a drug awareness session run by a public health body, or if there was a demonstrable need, to a drug treatment program. … These changes could potentially result in less demand on police and criminal justice time and resources. Given the experience of other countries, our assessment is that we do not believe this would materially alter the levels of use, while allowing resources to be spent on more cost-effective measures to reduce harm associated with drug use. … We would expect the net effect to be positive.”
Although the study’s authors do not recommend the removal of “criminal penalties for the major production or supply offenses of most [illicit] drugs,” they acknowledge that such non-criminal approaches ought to be considered for cannabis, concluding: “[F]or the most ubiquitous drug, cannabis, it is worth considering whether there are alternative approaches which might be more effective at reducing harm. For example, there is an argument that amending the law relating to the growing of it, at least for personal use, might go some way to undermining the commercialization of production, with associated involvement of organized crime. … Perhaps the most expedient course to take here would be to re-examine sentence levels and sentencing practice to ensure that those growing below a certain low volume of plants face no – or only minimal – sanctions.”
The Drug Policy Commission’s final report is the first major, independent review of British drug policy since a 1999 report commissioned by the Police Foundation, which similarly recommended decriminalizing cannabis. Following the publication of that report, British lawmakers in 2004 temporarily downgraded cannabis from a Class B to a Class C ‘soft’ drug. Lawmakers reclassified cannabis as a Class B illicit substance in early 2009. Nevertheless, British police typically issue warnings to minor cannabis offenders in lieu of making criminal arrests.
Full text of the UK Drug Policy Commission’s final report is available online here.
9/4/2012 at 5:30pm
Watch Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, former special agent Jamie Haase, and southern rock artist Greta Gaines as they speak live on behalf of North Carloina NORML to raise awareness and support for ending marijuana prohibition at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.
Charlotte, NC: On Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30 pm, during the Democratic National Convention, North Carolina NORML will be hosting Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, former special agent Jamie Haase, and southern rock artist Greta Gaines as they speak on behalf of the organization to raise awareness and support for ending marijuana prohibition.
The chapter issued the following statement:
“The North Carolina chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws is excited to have such an esteemed group of individuals speak on behalf of the marijuana movement at this politically symbolic event, and especially during such a historic time in our fight for legalization. Marijuana prohibition continues to feed a violent criminal economy and waste precious tax dollars.
Legalization could generate approximately $10 billion annually in tax revenue and law enforcement savings. Seventeen states, along with the District of Columbia, have already passed pro-marijuana legislation. With Colorado, Oregon and Washington all voting on legalization initiatives this November, it is more important than ever that we bring as much attention to this issue as possible.”
Date: September 4th at 5:30pm.
Location: Speaker’s Podium (The corner of E. Stonewall Street and S. Caldwell Street in uptown Charlotte)
About the Speakers:
Gary Johnson: The former Governor of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson is the current Libertarian candidate for president in the 2012 election. In the marijuana discussion, Mr. Johnson believes that by making the plant a legal, regulated product, we can restrict availability, curtail underage use, and reduce the legal costs associated with prosecuting marijuana offenders.
Jamie Haase: As a former ICE Special Agent, Mr. Haase brings a unique perspective to the conversation of marijuana reform. Having worked as a federal agent along the Mexican border, he’s been involved in multiple narcotics investigations. In 2011, he resigned from the United States government to become an advocate for marijuana legalization. He is now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Greta Gaines: Ms.Gaine’s career has crossed the entertainment industry in many forms. She performed with Sheryl Crowe and Alanis Morissette on the Lilith Fair tour, hosted her own show on the Oxygen network, Free Ride with Greta Gaines, for three years and worked as a correspondent on ESPN2. She has also produced four albums as a southern rock musician. In 1992, Gaines became the first winner of the Women’s World Extreme Snowboard Championship. Currently, she serves on the National NORML Board of Directors and is actively involved with the NORML Women’s Alliance.