DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved amendments on Tuesday legalizing the production, sale and possession of recreational marijuana for adults. The two states are the first to ever legalize the drug for recreational use.
Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, with 55 percent of voters saying ‘yes’. Initiative 502 passed by a similar margin in Washington.
The results illustrate the progressive view of marijuana held by voters in the two states. In Texas, where medical marijuana is not permitted, only a select group of supporters would endorse a similar initiative.
The Texas Democratic Party initiated a movement in June to decriminalize marijuana possession, urging the President, Attorney General and Congress to support the move. As part of their platform, the party stated it would rather see the drug regulated like alcohol and tobacco – much like Colorado and Washington have now achieved.
But many aren’t sure that Colorado and Washington have achieved anything at all – at least yet.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper believes there are still legitimate hurdles to the new state law.
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” said Hickenlooper in a released statement on Tuesday night. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
Amendment 64 will allow for the sale of marijuana to a person 21-years of age or older. Adults can possess no more than one ounce at a time. It will also require that the general assembly enact legislation “governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.”
The measure is also presented as a new source of tax revenue for the state. Under the terms of the amendment, the first $40 million in tax revenue raised will go directly to the public school capital construction assistance fund.
But Brenda Stewart from Newsradio KOA in Denver expects the battle to continue before the law is put in practice.
“One winner in this legislation is going to be the lawyers, definitely,” said Stewart on Newsradio KRLD on Wednesday. “A lot of legal analysts say it will no doubt go to the Supreme Court because the court loves to handle issues where, yes, it’s legal in one state, but illegal in another state.”
Listen: Brenda Steward on KRLD
Even if the legality of the law is upheld in Colorado, enforcing the proper and safe use of the drug is a completely separate – and potentially impossible – challenge.
“It’s supposed to legalize marijuana and give it the same laws as driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Stewart. “How do you go about regulating that? It just sounds like it’s opening up a host of problems.”
The measure is set to take effect as soon as the final vote is certified before the end of the year, barring any further legal action.
Oregon’s Measure 80 set out to achieve a similar result, but failed when 55 percent of voters turned down the initiative.
If Texas Democrats are looking to the White House for approval of a similar initiative in Texas or nationwide, they might find little help. President Obama has been firm recently on his stance against the legalization of marijuana.
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