It’s been fifteen years since California passed its very visible, and at the time controversial, medical marijuana law. And since then they’ve been front and center in the debate of “Where do we go from here?” Colorado passed their law four years later, but they look to take the news mantle away from the golden bear state with a proposed amendment to appear on this November’s ballot.
The Amendment to the Colorado State Constitution would change the legal status of marijuana in the state from the restricted, prescription only structure to one equivalent to how alcohol is handled in the state. And the Colorado Democratic Party has decided to back the measure, a huge plus toward passage.
Simultaneously, on a city by city level, marijuana dispensaries are being either approved or sent packing by way of zoning statute. It’s a case of the larger state laws being essentially reversed at the local level, arguably, democracy in action. And that’s where the battle lines are currently drawn – a majority of the state’s population believing marijuana should be allowed for recreational use, and local majorities declaring, “Not in my town” for medical marijuana.
Marijuana still not accepted in most states
Nationwide, the idea of medicinal marijuana is still not accepted in a majority of states. Currently, 16 out of 50 allow some legal use, but that leaves 34 that do not. And then there’s the question of how such an amendment will mesh with federal regulations.
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Notably, a similar amendment was voted on in 2006 and didn’t pass. Since then, however, polling shows the percentage of Colorado residents who agree with the legalization has increased and is now estimated to be a 50 -50 split, with Democrats and Independents at about 60% in favor and conservative voters supporting just medical use.
Replacing California as the leader in marijuana legalization news won’t be easy however. With marijuana thought to be the number one cash crop there, the politics will continue to rage and many continue to eye ways to get marijuana legal, and taxed. In Colorado, it doesn’t seem to be so much a matter of state finances as much as a desire to lower arrests and incarceration for what they judge to be a victimless crime.