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New Laws in Colorado and Washington End Marijuana Prohibition | 420 Photo

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New Laws in Colorado and Washington End Marijuana Prohibition

On November 6th initiatives in Colorado and Washington State were passed that effectively legalized marijuana for recreational use. This marks a historic moment making Washington State and Colorado the very first states to legalize marijuana.

The initiatives describe new laws designed to decriminalize possessing small quantities of marijuana by people over the age of 21. In addition to decriminalizing possession the initiatives will open a brand new marketplace for growing, packaging and selling marijuana.

Under the new law in Washington State there’ll be a 25% sales tax on marijuana. Forty percent of the new income will go to state and local budgets. This 25% tax rate will be imposed on marijuana products three times. Marijuana will be taxed when the grower sells to the processor, when the processor sells to the retailer and once the merchant sells to the customer. The tax on marijuana sales promises to be an excellent source of important revenue for the state.

Even though the initiatives have passed at state level, marijuana remains unlawful under federal law. Marijuana remains classified as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In a written statement, the Department of Justice has made it apparent that “enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged”.

The divergence of these fresh state laws from federal laws is likely to make for lawsuits in the near future. It’s possible that the federal government could sue Washington and Colorado for being in violation of federal laws. The Department of Justice is presently evaluating the new state laws as well as similar initiatives around the country.

Problems abound for retailers, growers, consumers as well as businesses that have long had zero tolerance policies regarding marijuana use. It is probable that there is going to be hot debate associated with employers penalizing or ending the employment of people who test positive for marijuana.

Even though this is a milestone for change in both Washington and Colorado it is obvious that it is only the beginning. It is likely to take a year or more for all of the unique rules and specifics to be written and approved by local officials. In the meantime, marijuana proponents in both states will be hoping that the federal government recognizes the choice of the voters enabling each state to translate the new laws into profitable and economically viable new endeavors.

Everyone is waiting to see how the feds react to the new laws.

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