Election 2012 is still astir in the U.S. Whether people are talking about the two states that legalized same-sex marriage, the election of the first Native American senator, the first openly lesbian senator to be elected or simply the fact that President Barack Obama was elected to another four-year term, the election is still a hot button topic of conversation. One of the most controversial topics that was voted into law on Nov. 6 was the legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington.
The legislation in both states proposed legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes as well as decriminalizing marijuana use. These states also want to categorize marijuana similarly to alcohol instead of to harder and more dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin.
I completely agree with the passing of both pieces of legislation due to the ability of the states to tax and decriminalize the drug.
“Silence [from the federal government] equals consent,” Denver attorney Robert Corry said, according to a Nov. 10 article from the Huffington Post. ”The time for the federal government to talk about marijuana legalization is over. The time has passed. Marijuana got 50,000 more votes than Obama on Tuesday. Don’t think they didn’t notice that.”
The reason the issue of the legalization of marijuana is so pivotal, now more than before, is due to continuous issues with the economy. Colorado could make more than $40 million a year with implemented sales of about 15 percent. According to an article from Reuters on Nov. 9, Colorado attorney general John Suthers claims the state is unable to tax up to 15 percent on the drug without voter approval. The state legislature would need to reconvene and pass another amendment specifying how much the state could be able to tax.
But imagine what the state would be able to do with upwards of $40 million. It has been strongly suggested that the pot sales tax would be funneled into the public schools and school districts in the state. This would be an incredibly beneficial thing for the schools. Teaching students about marijuana would most likely adapt to how teachers educate students about tobacco products or alcohol, rather than continue to teach it as a harder drug like heroin or cocaine.
The Washington legislation also calls for a tax to be imposed on marijuana. According to a Nov. 7 article from CNN Money, “the Washington initiative calls for a 25% tax rate imposed on the product three times: when the grower sells it to the processor, when the processor sells it to the retailer and when the retailer sells it to the customer.”
This tax will be a beneficial thing for the state. Even though the 25 percent tax may seem high, it will bring a lot of money into the state’s economy that will be allocated to improve various things. It will improve infrastructure and schools in Colorado. In other states, it could go to the public service officers for protecting the general public from acts that will remain illegal under this legislation, like driving under the influence of marijuana or smoking marijuana in public.
According to the Huffington Post, Washington’s largest counties have dropped all pending misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession after passing the new legislation. Colorado, however, is still looking into whether or not courts should drop misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession.
In my opinion, the charge that is considered a misdemeanor should no longer be classified that way. These states have spoken. Their general public does not want to be criminalized for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and they do not want to serve jail time or have a criminal record.
The legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington is a huge step in the direction of potentially legalizing the drug at a federal level. The increase of taxes toward the drug will be incredibly beneficial for the states involved. People will no longer be prosecuted for crimes such as possession. I agree with the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, especially when the benefits contribute to the society as a whole.
Jakki Thompson is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications, women’s studies and American ethnic studies. Please send comments to [email protected]