Those entrusted with preserving Americans’ constitutional rights must keep up with the pace of emerging technology.
-- The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press
Changes in public policy toward the use of marijuana are taking place with amazing speed, too fast, perhaps, to appreciate the full implications of these changes. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana, 16 states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of the plant material, making it akin to a traffic ticket. Nine states have done both.
Then Colorado became the first state to make the sale and purchase of marijuana for recreational use fully legal, regulated and taxed. Colorado adults, 21 and older, are able to purchase up to an ounce, visitors from out of state one-quarter of an ounce. While Colorado residents can legally grow a few pot plants, most are expected to purchase their grass from liquor-store like outlets offering various strains of marijuana with differing potency and purported effects.
Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved ballot initiatives in November 2012 calling for marijuana legalization, but it has taken time for these states to create the regulatory and taxing policies to implement it. Expect legal sales of marijuana to begin in Washington this coming summer.
Legalization takes things to an entirely different level and this newspaper, as we suspect much of the nation, will be closely watching the experiments with legalization in Colorado and Washington.
However, it is naïve to suggest pot is benign and legalization without potential problems. Legalization removes a stigma associated with marijuana use, likely encouraging more use and abuse. The Colorado law is written to allow use of the drug on private property, with the owner’s permission, and includes penalties for use in public places. Given human nature, expect many to ignore this provision. Whether that becomes a problem is difficult to say at this point.
-- The Day of New London (Conn.)