SCHENECTADY, NY, January 06, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- In recent years, residents in several U.S. states have pushed to add marijuana legalization initiatives to election ballots. While no such initiative has reached the ballot here in New York state, proponents continue to push for legalization at least for medical use. New York state Sen. Diane Savino recently said she hopes to make New York the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana, noting "there is a huge amount of revenue" available to the state if it does so.
While marijuana for medicinal use has steadily gained favor in many states, legalizing pot for recreational use remains more controversial. In November, Colorado and Washington passed ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for recreational use. However, the U.S. government has held firm for now that marijuana remains illegal (even for medicinal use, technically) at the federal level, calling into question when or if residents of those states will be able to partake without fear of drug charges
Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use
Colorado has an abundance of dispensaries for medical marijuana, though residents need a doctor's prescription to purchase the drug to treat certain symptoms. On Nov. 7, Coloradans voted to approve limited recreational use of the drug and the ability of residents to grow a small number of marijuana plants. However, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the initiative, was quick to note that "federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or goldfish too quickly."
Washington passed a similar initiative. As with the Colorado law, pot would be regulated similarly to alcohol, with use limited to people 21 and older, along with the establishment of a blood test limit for legally operating a motor vehicle
. State officials said no sales would be allowed until rules were put in place to govern the industry.
Oregon voted down a recreational legalization initiative, while Massachusetts approved a referendum legalizing medical marijuana.
The Case for Legalization
Proponents contend that casual marijuana use is common anyway, so it makes sense for states to regulate the drug like alcohol and tax it to gain revenue. They contend that marijuana is a far less dangerous drug than cocaine, heroin or methylamine, and they say it doesn't make sense to jail people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Tell That to The Feds
At least for the moment, the U.S. government doesn't agree with proponents' arguments for the legalization of marijuana. Following the election, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reiterated its stance that marijuana remains illegal. President Barack Obama, himself reelected on the day the initiatives passed, has said, "I don't think that legalization of drugs is going to be the answer."
In New York, the debate on whether marijuana will (or should be) legal will continue. In the meantime, any one dealing with drug charges related to marijuana
or other drugs should be aware of one's right to a vigorous defense in a court of law.
The Law Offices of Mark J. Sacco, PLLC
38 North Ferry Street
Schenectady, NY 12305