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  1. SmokeTwibz

    Three US states are set to legalise recreational cannabis use this week in votes that could have major implications for the country's war on drugs.

    Alongside their choice for president, residents of Washington, Oregon and Colorado – a swing state – will be asked on Tuesday whether they want to decriminalise cannabis.

    If the measures are passed, adults over 21 would be able to possess, distribute and use small amounts. Cannabis for authorised medical use is already permitted and regulated by each state, even though it is against federal law.

    Support is particularly strong in Washington and Colorado, but a "yes" vote in any of the states would be interpreted by the Department of Justice as an act of defiance against the federal government's war on drugs – the national law enforcement programme that spends $44bn a year struggling to stem the tide of illegal drugs in the US.

    In June 2011, however, the Global Commission on Drug Policy declared that the war on drugs had failed.

    In a swing state such as Colorado, putting the liberal measure on the ballot could even help to keep the battleground state – narrowly won for Barack Obama in 2008 – on the president's side. Obama has taken a soft line on medical cannabis use.

    If recreational use is approved, a new drug industry would inevitably boom and the states expect a tax bonanza from the income generated. Colorado plans to spend the first $40m a year on schools, although the state's largest teachers' union is firmly against legalisation. A yes vote would allow the possession and private use of up to an ounce of cannabis, but it would not be legal to smoke a joint in the street. "But that's already what people do here anyway, so it won't make any difference. Anyone who's been to a concert in this state will know no one's arrested for pot," said Laura Chapin, who runs the "no" campaign in Colorado. Denver and the ski town of Breckenridge decriminalised cannabis for private recreational use in 2005 and 2009 respectively. Chapin, who is a Democrat, admitted she had not heard of any dramatic ill effects as a result, but said legalising it statewide was a different matter: "It effectively establishes Colorado as the cannabis capital of the United States. And it will increase access to the drug for our kids."

    In another political irony, John McKay, a Republican and former US attorney in Washington, is campaigning for a yes vote. Criminalisation of cannabis had been "an abject failure", he said, adding that "millions and millions of Americans" illegally smoke cannabis, with the proceeds going to illegal cartels. McKay believes that controlling a legal trade would make it safer.

    Several former senior police officers have also come out in favour. However, operators of medical cannabis dispensaries are divided. Some believe it would ease the taboo around pot, while improving quality. Others fear a threat from new competition or from the federal government blocking the law and launching a wider crackdown.

    "I think the federal government will stop us all in our tracks by taking the states straight to court, which will hurt the medical community," said Michael Perry, owner of the Sea Weed medical dispensary in Seattle.

    Tom Tancredo, a former Colorado Republican congressman, argues that prohibition of alcohol did not work in the 1920s – consumption flourished, as did violence and extortion. He said: "Cannabis can be used safely and responsibly by adults. Limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on this, they should be used on preventing crimes that harm others."

    Joanna Walters | The Observer
    Saturday 3 November 2012
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/03/states-poised-to-legalise-cannabis

Comments

  1. SmokeTwibz
    Three states to vote on legalizing recreational pot
    [imgr=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=29542&stc=1&d=1352246460[/imgr]
    (Reuters) - Voters in three western U.S. states go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a move that could spur a showdown with the federal government, with polls showing legalization ahead in Washington and Colorado.

    If voters approve the measures, the states could become the first in the country to legalize the recreational use of pot. Each of the initiatives would see marijuana taxed and would regulate its sale in special stores to adults age 21 and older.

    But the prospect of legalizing pot, which the federal government considers an illicit and dangerous drug liable to be abused, has raised concerns about how to keep stoned drivers off the roads and joints out of the hands of teenagers.

    "We're risking a lot simply because people think they want to buy marijuana from a store," said Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration's drug policy czar.

    Surveys show legalization measures ahead in Washington state, where campaign finance records say its sponsors have raised $6 million, and Colorado, where backers have pulled in nearly $2 million. But legalization was trailing in Oregon, where a grass-roots campaign was struggling to sway voters.

    Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann, whose affiliate groups have funded current and past legalization initiatives, said he was more optimistic about legalization prospects now than he was before a California legalization referendum that voters rejected in 2010.

    "In this case, the polling has stayed up there. It's almost like we're seeing a surge of support for this in the final week," Nadelmann said.

    A survey of 932 likely voters in Washington state released on Saturday by Public Policy Polling found 53 percent support legalization, with a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

    Legalization was also ahead in Colorado, where a recent SurveyUSA poll of 695 likely voters conducted for the Denver Post showed 50 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed. The survey had a 3.8 percent margin of error.

    But in Oregon, legalization was trailing with just 42 percent in favor, according to a survey of 405 likely voters by Elway Research for The Oregonian. The poll had a margin of error of 5 percent.

    The initiatives in Colorado and Oregon, in addition to allowing and taxing pot sales at state-sanctioned stores, would allow individuals to cultivate pot plants for their own use.

    The Washington state measure differs in that it would ban people from growing their own pot. Unlike the other two measures, it would also create a specific blood limit on pot's psychoactive element, THC, for drivers.

    Nadelmann said that provision and endorsement by such figures as John McKay, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington state, make the measure in that state the most likely to sway hesitant voter and ultimately succeed.

    Meanwhile, a Massachusetts ballot initiative on Tuesday proposes allowing medical marijuana in that state, and voters in Arkansas are being asked whether to become the first southern state to allow marijuana as medicine. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.

    In Montana, where voters in 2004 approved medical marijuana, voters will be asked whether to overturn a 2011 law that imposed tough restrictions on medical pot and led to the shutdown of dispensaries.

    (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

    By Alex Dobuzinskis
    Tue Nov 6, 2012 11:28am EST
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/06/us-usa-marijuana-legalization-idUSBRE8A50RB20121106
  2. stryder09
    The specific blood concentrations is a tricky situation an isn't agreed upon by the scientific community.
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