Marijuana Legalized in the States of Washington and Colorado

Washington and Colorado voters made their states the first in the nation to legalize recreational pot use on November 6, 2012 even though use is a violation of federal law.  The measure sets up a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults over 21 can buy up to an ounce. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.  Home growing has also become legal in Colorado, but not Washington.  The state of Oregon also voted on the issue in 2012 and legalization with unrestricted cultivation received 47% of the vote.  The issue is expected to be voted on again in 2016 in Oregon, as well as in California and Maine. 

Though it currently remains illegal to sell non-medical marijuana in the state — recreational pot shops won’t be able to get licenses to open for about another year — the law allows people to give marijuana to one another without compensation.
 
The Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, is on the record opposing his state’s amendment which seeks to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol.  “Colorado is known for many great things –- marijuana should not be one of them,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.”
 

Supporters of the new law argue that legalizing marijuana could help bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in pot taxes, reduce small-time pot-related arrests and give supporters a chance to show whether decriminalization is a viable strategy in the war on drugs.

House Bill 2230, the West Virginia Compassionate Medical Marijuana Bill includes this clause concerning the medical use of marijuana:  “States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with this article does not put the State of West Virginia in violation of federal law.”  But, be aware: just because state laws have changed, that doesn’t necessarily mean if you are caught in possession of marijuana in a state which has legalized recreational use you won’t go to jail — because federal law still trumps state law. “Several states with legal medical marijuana have received letters from their respective United States Attorneys offices explaining that marijuana is a Schedule I substance and that the federal government considers growing, distribution, or possession of marijuana to be a federal crime regardless of the state laws. These letters have caused some states to delay or alter implementation of their medical marijuana programs.” 

As a law firm which has helped many people  who are suffering permanently life-altering injures from auto collisions, we have grave concerns about the effect of the legalization of the recreational use of pot on the safety of all drivers.  While alcohol is the predominant substance in fatal crashes, marijuana is the second most frequently found substance in crash-involved drivers, according to a NHTSA study. Alcohol and marijuana are also frequently found together, which results in a dramatic decrease in driving performance and spike in impairment levels.

Another area of strong concern is child safety.  West Virginia leads the nation in accidental prescription pain medicine overdoses.  Although medical professionals seem to agree that it is almost impossible for an adult to overdose on cannabis, the health risks for a young child are very serious.  For more information about the need for tamper-proof packaging for West Virginia’s proposed medical use marijuana, see our post:  https://wvaccidentlawyer.org/2013/04/08/medical-marijuana-in-wv-child-safety-packaging/.

Trends and Current Marijuana News

April 2013:  They are smelling something green on the West Coast, and it’s not necessarily cannabis —  entrepreneurs are smelling money as they position themselves to  be the first to invest in, develop, and market the cultivation, distribution, software tracking, vending machines and vaporizers for legal pot.     

According to Fortune Magazine, the CEO and co-founder of ArcView, a leading cannabis investment group, says:  “A geyser is going to go off, and the question is ‘Which company is going to be on top when it does?’  Business is driving this change.  Where there is money for government, money for investors, and money for entrepreneurs, there is a powerful incentive for change.”   Source:  Fortune Magazine, April 8, 2013:  “Yes We Cannabis” by Roger Parloff.

West Virginia debates Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act. http://www.statejournal.com/story/21829210/speakers-at-public-hearing-advocate-for-medical-marijuana-use-in-wv.

New study highlights the dangers of driving under the influence:  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130301122256.htm)

January 2013:  Several bring-your-own pot clubs have now opened for business in Colorado.  The first legal pot dens popped up less than a month after Colorado’s governor signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use. Club 64, a club near Denver, gets its name from the number of the amendment.

Colorado’s marijuana amendment prohibits public consumption, and smoke-free laws also appear to ban indoor smokeouts. But Club 64 attorney Robert Corry said private pot dens are permissible because marijuana isn’t sold, nor is it food or drink.  The first marijuana club to open in Colorado has already been shut down. The club in a tiny southern Colorado town of Del Norte opened on Monday, but the lease was not to begin until Tuesday.  The landlord cancelled the pending lease of the club owner after all the publicity came out about the club’s opening.  The club owner stated that their business profit plan included customers from New Mexico who were planning to drive over the state line to participate. 

February 2013:  If a California company has its way, recreational marijuana users in Colorado and Washington state will one day be able to get their pot out of vending machines.

Such machines are already in use in some states where medical marijuana is legal, but now the maker’s founder says the Medbox company is working to adapt the machines to comply with new laws in Colorado and Washington, where adults can legally use marijuana for recreation.

Currently, the vending machines for medicine require a fingerprint scan to verify the identification of the patient, which is then linked to a prescription on file. 

Read more: Colorado’s first marijuana den shut down in landlord dispute – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22292647/colorados-first-marijuana-club-shut-down-landlord-dispute#ixzz2GwIGaGzL

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/03/16327561-recreational-marijuana-users-could-get-pot-from-vending-machines-company-says?lite

http://www.policymic.com/articles/23326/marijuana-legalization-state-laws-matter-little-to-the-feds/347231

From the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, Call today for free information for WV serious injury victims.  Order your copy of Righting the Wrong:  WV Serious Injury Guide today:  304-594-1800.  We have answers for your questions concerning your serious injury and insurance matters.

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2 thoughts on “Marijuana Legalized in the States of Washington and Colorado

  1. DR Steve Brule

    I dont see any gambling hot spots popping up here in McDowell County. Its still pretty much a toilet compard to most of the state. I am originaly from GA and wasnt really surprised when I moved here as to its conditions and pill epidemic. I would love to see Marijuana legalized for several reasons. Drug cartels would lose on of their big sellers. It would give people in the lower class an opportunity to grow, smoke and sell the bud and hemp and maybe get a chance to become a millionaire by the time we are dead. It makes me feel better than alcohol being diabetic. It is the only thing that combats the foggy hungover feeling I wake up with most mornings even if I havent drank in a month. No pill any doctor can prescribe will help that for me. So with your misguided ideas on the plant that nobody has the right to make criminal for us to have, shows just what I have known from the beginning…you have no idea what you are talking about.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your interesting perspective on the problem. We are viewing this through the eyes of parents of a large family and an accident lawyer. My husband, Jeff, was born and raised in Welch until he was eighteen. The tap water alone is a health hazard there! Best wishes to you as you seek to improve your health. TR

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