Colorado, Washington Become First States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
(NEW YORK) -- In a groundbreaking move, Colorado and Washington voters have passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The drug is still banned under federal law.
Colorado's Proposition 64 to the state's constitution makes it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess marijuana and for businesses to sell it.
"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."
Amendment 64 legalized marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 at certain retail stores. Proponents believed the bill could generate millions in revenue for the state government.
A similar measure on the ballot in Washington state legalizes small amounts of marijuana for people over 21.
Even though the issues have passed, they are likely to meet legal challenges very quickly.
In 2005, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The Court said Congress had the power to criminalize marijuana under the Commerce Clause.
A similar ballot issue to legalize marijuana in Oregon did not pass.
In Massachusetts Tuesday night, voters approved legislation to allow marijuana for medicinal reasons, joining 17 other states that allow it.
In addition to making a presidential pick, voters in states across the country voted on a number of polarizing issues including same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide.
Dozens of state-wide ballot questions were posed to voters, and their implications could reverberate across state lines.
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