More than a dozen U.S. states have now completely decriminalized the act of possessing marijuana and both Colorado and Washington have made it legal to possess, sell, transport and cultivate the plant. But soon it may be legalized across the entire country following a decision Thursday by the federal government. In a historic and significant moment in American history, last November, Colorado became the first US state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The impact of the decision could soon ripple across the entire country with vast opportunities to educate millions on the top health benefits of marijuana.
With the passage of I-502 in the 2012 Washington State election, marijuana also became legal in Washington–not just for medical use, but also for recreational use–and Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Vermont have all decriminalized marijuana.
Consumption and sale of marijuana is still illegal in all other states, though some cities and towns have passed local laws decriminalizing it or making it a low priority for law enforcement officers.
There are also movements in many states to legalize pot, including legalization bills introduced in many other states.
For other states to mimic the systems in Colorado and Washington, they will first have to get legalization laws on their ballots or in their state houses, which could post a challenge, he said.
After Washington state and Colorado passed laws in November 2012 legalizing the consumption and sale of marijuana for adults over 18, lawmakers in both states waited to see whether the federal government would continue to prosecute pot crimes under federal statutes in their states.
Both Colorado and Washington have been working to set up regulatory systems in order to license and tax marijuana growers and retail sellers, but have been wary of whether federal prosecutors would come after them for doing so. They are the first states to legalize pot, and therefore to go through the process of trying to set up a regulatory system.
Ruling Signals the End is Near for Marijuana Prohibition