Today: Jun 17, 2024

Election day brought changes

Dan Griffin – Staff Writer

Election Day 2012 symbolized a cultural shift in America. From the reelection of President Obama to same-sex marriage legalization, the modern voice of American society was heard. In two states in particular, Washington and Colorado, further social shifts have occurred in direct contrast with federal law.

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A recent law passed in Washington and Colorado legalized the sale of marijuana and recreational use.

Initiative 502 in Washington and Amendment 64 in Colorado have legalized the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use. Starting within the next two months, citizens over the age of 21 will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and use it in private. There will also be stores for folks to buy marijuana as they please as long as they are 21 and have ID to prove it. The bills also state it will remain illegal to drive or consume publicly.

As far as I am concerned, it’s about time for government regulation on this particular substance. The Oregonian reported that anywhere from $22 million a year to $2 billion in five years would be raised by marijuana taxes. The Oregonian also reported that a former high-ranking CIA official estimates damages to be done to drug cartels by about $1 billion. Colorado officials declare that money raised will help fund public schools and the education system.

Still, some believe that passing laws on legal drug use may be sending the wrong message to kids. It seems very likely that these laws will encourage the drug use and there will be widespread substance abuse.

“We need to let people know it is not OK for youths to use marijuana…We need them to realize it’s not OK for young people to drive under the influence of marijuana,” said Christian Thurstone, a Denver substance-abuse doctor.

What I find most interesting about these bills is that they go against direct federal prohibition. State officials from either state have been questioned on how they foresee federal officials enforcing the Controlled Substance Act, which bans marijuana use.

“I’m 100 percent looking forward to defending the will of the people and will defend it vigorously,” said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

“My sense is that it is unlikely the federal government is going to allow states one by one to unilaterally decriminalize marijuana,” said Colo. Governor John Hickenlooper.

But, up to two days since the passing, no federal government official has given plans to intercede. All the while, the story remains one of the more popular topics on the Internet. Both the Seattle Times and Denver Post’s websites have this story as their headline over any other topic from this month’s election.

This is what makes this so special; as a nation we get to see democracy in action. We get to see people standing up for something they believe in even though the federal government does not believe in it. I am anxious to see how federal officials will eventually react to the enactment of this bill, as well as how other states will react. Perhaps we will see many other states passing laws like this in the near future.

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