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US elections: Colorado, Washington legalise recreational marijuana

Reuters
Nov 07, 2012 at 12:37pm IST

Denver: Colorado on Tuesday became the first state to legalise the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use, in defiance of federal law. A Washington state ballot initiative legalizing possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use has passed, supporters of the measure said on Tuesday.

"We are declaring victory," campaign manager Alison Holcomb said. Supporters of a Colorado constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana declared victory and opponents conceded defeat after returns showed the measure garnering nearly 53 percent of the vote vs. 47 percent against.

Polls before the election had shown support for legalizing recreational pot trailing in a third state, Oregon, where significantly less money and campaign organization has been devoted to the cause.

Colorado, Washington legalise recreational marijuana

Separately, medical marijuana measures were on the ballot in three other states, including Massachusetts.

Separately, medical marijuana measures were on the ballot in three other states, including Massachusetts, where CNN reported that voters approved an initiative to allow cannabis for medicinal reasons. Supporters there issued a statement declaring victory for what they described as "the safest medical marijuana law in the country.

Seventeen other states, plus the District of Columbia, already have medical marijuana laws on their books. Under the measures in Colorado and Washington, personal possession of up to an ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana would be legal for anyone at least 21 years of age. Oregon's initiative would legalize possession of unlimited amounts of pot for recreational use.

All three proposals would also permit cannabis to be legally sold, and taxed, at state-licensed stores in a system modeled after the regime many states have in place for alcohol sales. The Colorado measure would also allow personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, and the Oregon initiative would allow individuals to grow unlimited amounts for themselves; grow-your-own pot would be banned in Washington state.

But legalization puts the states in conflict with the federal government, which classifies cannabis as an illegal narcotic. The US Department of Justice issued a statement reacting to passage in Colorado, saying that its enforcement policies remain unchanged, adding: "We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time."

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