After 2012 when Colorado voters adopted Amendment 64, the state said we were all “lab rats” in the big new experiment to see what happens when recreational marijuana becomes legal.
We weren’t alone as “lab rats” for long as Washington State quickly joined us, and then the Evergreen State was followed by Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia. Now more want to join he party.
On this year’s general election ballots, five more states are poised to join the great experiment. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are all asking their voters whether or not recreational marijuana should be legal in each of those states.
Medical marijuana already exists in almost half the states and on Nov. 8, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota voters will be asked if those states should permit pot for medical purposes. And Montana voters are being asked if the Big Sky’s existing medical pot laws should be liberalized.
Recreational marijuana will likely be among the big winners on election day. By the time all the voters are counted, it could leave all most one-quarter of the U.S. population living in states with recreational pot. Such a milestone would require California coming down on the pro-pot side.
It’s going to be interesting if that happens, especially in light of the Obama administration’s recent decision to continue to putting marijuana on the list of most dangerous drugs. Your guess is as good as mine as to what that means and how it plays out in the future.
My guess is the renewed listing will not be a factor in the outcome of these ballot measures. And I’d bet they all pass if I had to make a prediction today. As I’ve often, said, “yes campaigns can drop like rocks” if voters find they contain serious flaws.
The flaw in Colorado’s Amendment 64 went undiscovered prior to that election. As amendment to the Colorado Constitution, 64 includes a mandate that the only regulatory authority for recreational marijuana is the state Department Revenue.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found it could do nothing with THC levels in dosing of edibles nor could the Colorado Department Agriculture do anything with pesticides used in growing plants.
These important regulatory agencies were reduced to eating cookies when the Department of Revenue decided to have a stakeholder meeting or two during the many speed bumps that recreational pot has had to deal with in Colorado.
States that legalized recreational marijuana after Colorado have done a little better. But, never under estimate the likelihood that those who write ballot measures will get greedy. Dropping little goodies or loopholes into ballot measures is something that happens all the time.
And this year, there are 74 “citizen” initiatives on state ballots. After medical and recreational marijuana, the hot topics this year are health care, minimum wage, gun control, tobacco, and taxes. The only way you can be sure you are not passing something with a hidden, serious flaw is to read the entire text yourself before you vote. It’s really not that hard, and it’s you expect your politicians to read bills before they vote on them–don’t you?
Colorado’s anti-drug campaign used the slogan “Don’t be a lab rat” in its first campaign after 64 passed, but dropped under pressure to the pot industry who turned out to be generous donors to our governor.
My observations will continue. I have not made a single purchase of marijuana, legal or otherwise, or even stepped a foot in a retail shop.
However, I did get the “lab rat” T-shirt.