Marijuana Legalized By Colorado

The Denver NBC affiliated has projected that Colorado in a historic vote that will reverberate around the nation will pass Amendment 64 and would legalize marijuana. News networks have begun to confirm that Colorado’s Amendment 64 has been passed by voters by a vote of 53% to 47% (with 38% of the vote tallied).

This marks the first time in history that a state has moved for legalizing marijuana outright for adult consumers. The vote demonstrates that cannabis prohibition is a failed, unpopular policy, like alcohol prohibition before it, which largely relies on state and local enforcement. The prohibition of alcohol came to an end when some states enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws.

 Till now, no state in the United States of America has defined cannabis as a legal commodity though some state laws do provide for legal exceptions that permit certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But with this development from Colorado, cannabis has been classified as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.

Amendenment 64
Amendment 64

History Of The Medical Marijuana Industry

During 2008-10, many western and central states witnessed an exponential surge in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that sold marijuana for medicinal purposes. California, the first state in the United States to legalize marijuana, has been the biggest beneficiary and supplier of marijuana in the country.

In recent times, the business of medical marijuana is growing with every passing day despite the stigma often linked with drugs. Medical marijuana has been used for alleviating symptoms of physical conditions, including chronic pain, gout, vision problems and nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment.

The consumption of marijuana is no longer restricted to hippies at concerts and its sale is no longer limited to shady people in alleys.

Erik Santus, the owner of Lotus Medical, a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado, said he opened a dispensary for medical marijuana to create a favorable environment for people to learn about the benefits of marijuana. Santus further remarked that bringing a dispensary involves several initial hurdles and a burden of $200,000 to set up and another $15,000-$20,000 every month for maintenance.

The list of clients is long but legitimate. While some have fought in Iraq and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, a few elderly take it for getting relief from chronic pain and have a sound sleep, and some take medical marijuana for finding comfort from health conditions such as gout.

50% of the USA favors Marijuana Legalization

According to a survey by Gallup, a record high fifty percent of the United States population says that the use of marijuana should be legalized.

The use of marijuana was favored by 12 percent of the American population in 1969 and 84 percent opposed its legalization. From the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, the support for marijuana legalization remained in the mid-20s but it went to 30 percent in the year 2000 and 40 percent of the US population supported marijuana legalization in the year 2009.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health disclosed that 16.7 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed to suggest an increase over the rates reported in all years between 2002 and 2008.

Marijuana is the third-most-popular recreational drug in America, behind only alcohol and tobacco, according to claims made by the advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. While some states in the United States of America have legalized use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, many officials have made a call to the federal government to legalize marijuana.

The survey also disclosed that the support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age. While the topic of marijuana legalization was characterized by approval of 62 percent of those 18 to 29 down, the approval rate was 31 percent among those 65 and older. While the Liberals are twice as likely as conservatives for favoring marijuana legalization, Democrats and independents are more likely to be in favor than are Republicans.

Marijuana Good or Bad?

The call to legalize marijuana continues to grow louder despite opposition by some sections of the society. The point of laugh is that these sections of the society (the latter category) believe marijuana has no medicinal properties despite no valid reasons or proof to justify, and are trying to override numerous studies in the scientific and medical literature’s about the usefulness of marijuana to treat health complications, ranging from mild to severe.

Even independent labs and government agencies have confirmed that marijuana does not constitute a danger to public safety and is the safest and the most useful drug known to the mankind. If marijuana was bad, why does the U.S. federal government owns a patent (number 6630507) for the medicinal use of marijuana? Time for a rethink!

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s own administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, held that “marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”

It is worthwhile to note here that marijuana, unlike other drugs, is quite safe to be used recreationally by responsible adults. Moreover, it is non-addictive in nature, has not caused a single death, and could not be over-dosed. If that is not all, medical marijuana has been allowing patients across the world.

Marijuana has been and is commonly used for treating health diseases such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), chemotherapy-related nausea, migraine, depression, skin cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism, multiple sclerosis, and trauma.  In addition to this, medical marijuana has also demonstrated effectiveness in treating complications such as stuttering, HIV, AIDS, post polio syndrome, malignant melanoma, testicular cancer, diabetic peripheral vascular disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases, schizophrenia, writers’ cramp, alcohol abuse, tobacco dependence, Tourette’s syndrome, and persistent insomnia.

Medical studies have also confirmed that marijuana shows great promise in offering significant relief to patients suffering from nightmares, non-psychotic organic brain disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, paralysis, Bell’s palsy, muscular dystrophies, glaucoma, and chronic sinusitis.

In addition to these medical benefits, legalizing marijuana could easily open new avenues of employment and wealth from an economy’s point of view. By regulating and taxing marijuana, the United States alone could earn $40 billion to $100 billion in new revenue. Moreover, legalization of marijuana could easily prevent drug users and sellers from being termed as “criminals.” Legalizing marijuana would also promote entrepreneurial spirit among marijuana sellers and help them become respectable and accepted individuals in our society. In addition to that, governments could easily control how marijuana is consumed by increasing or decreasing the taxes on the drug, once it is legalized.

With governments scrambling to identify new sources of revenue to pay for important social objectives and recession hitting almost every segment of the economy, the time is not far when the nature’s great gift (marijuana) would be legalized. This is primarily because legalization of marijuana would inevitably add a new and powerful industry to our draining economy.

All in all, legalizing marijuana is the best thing that could be done to save the mankind from diseases, constraints, and stigma.

Marijuana Mission
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) Library – Medical Marijuana News and Facts
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
The Drug Reform Coordination Network
The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation

Legalizing Marijuana Efforts Gaining Momentum

Despite fierce opposition from the federal government, efforts for legalizing marijuana for recreational use gaining momentum in Colorado and Washington state. Recently, officials in Washington remarked that an initiative for legalizing pot has enough signatures to get qualified for the ballot in November. Officials in Colorado are about to make a similar determination about an initiative in the state.

Pot supporters are ready to possibly spend millions of dollars ahead of the ballot in November, when they are hoping for a strong voter turnout, especially among youth, for the U.S. presidential election will aid their cause.

“Whether it’s make or break depends on what public opinion does after 2012, but in terms of voter turnout this is the best year to do it,” said Alison Holcomb, director of New Approach Washington, the initiative’s sponsor.

Marijuana use for medical purposes is presently being allowed in 16 states, including Washington and Colorado, along with the national capital. However, cannabis still remains an illegal narcotic under U.S. law and opinion of public is sharply divided on the merits of full marijuana legalization.

The U.S. Department of Justice has cracked down on medical cannabis operations in California after voters from the state turned back a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2010.

“Our highest priority are the folks that violate both state and federal law,” said Rusty Payne, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “There are places that have made a lot of money who claim to be nonprofit, and they have faced both local and federal scrutiny.”

Supporters of the Washington state initiative in an undeterred manner said it represents the “grown-up” approach to legalization.

“Voters aren’t being asked to imagine as much as they are in other states, they have seen that marijuana can be regulated and it doesn’t result in significant problems,” said Mason Tvert, co-director of the Colorado-based Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Public disclosure records show that Washington effort organizers have been able to collect over $1.1 million in campaign funds, with $250,000 of that coming from Progressive Insurance chairman Peter Lewis.
“If young voters turn out in droves like they did in 2008 or even start to approach those numbers … then I think this will pass, but they very well may not,” said Loren Collingwood, senior researcher for the nonpartisan Washington Poll run by the University of Washington.

“There’s a set of factors that suggest both the Washington and Colorado initiates have a better chance of winning than any of the initiatives that have happened before,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

“But that said, even with a majority of likely voters in both states saying they favor legal marijuana, we know in the final stretch there’s always a small percentage that get nervous or scared off or fearful of change,” he said.

Legalization “is not good for states and citizens who live in those states, and it’s certainly not good for the outlook of children who live in those states,” said Calivina Fay, head of the Florida-based Drug Free America Foundation.

“Right now in Seattle, we’re feeling that it’s a bit unfair that we are being tolerant of medical cannabis users, when other localities are not, because we tend to become suppliers for the whole state rather than our own citizens,” said Washington City Attorney Peter Holmes.

Effort to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Ohio

Peter Lewis, one of the biggest backers of medical marijuana in the United States, is seeking proposals to conduct a ballot initiative campaign to legalize marijuana for medical use in Ohio.

According to the request for proposals, fifteen states have made marijuana legal for qualified patients, most through the passage of similar voter initiatives.

Lewis is presently pushing it through in his home state of Ohio.

“Of the states that continue to prohibit medical use of marijuana, Ohio stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support,” stated the RFP, “This provides an opportunity to enact a new law that will directly help patients and to do so in a manner that will serve as a model for other states.”

The goal of the proposals is not just to pass a voter initiative legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio but for designing a campaign that could create a model for future campaigns in other states.

“You shouldn’t take it as a given that there will be a ballot initiative this campaign,” said Graham Boyd, Lewis’ lawyer and adviser, “But we want to see proposals.”

Lewis has already given millions to Marijuana Policy Project, the reform group, including $900,000 in 2010 besides giving 200,000 in support of California’s Proposition 19, the bill that sought unsuccessfully last November to legalize marijuana in California.