Voters approve recreational marijuana use in WA - KPTV - FOX 12

Department of Justice reviewing marijuana initiative in WA

Posted: Updated: Nov 7, 2012 06:08 PM
VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

Marijuana is set to be legalized in Washington after voters approved the initiative that would allow adults to buy pot in the state.

Initiative 502 passed 55 percent to 44 percent.

Washington joins Colorado as the only two states in the nation to legalize pot for recreational use.

The initiative is changing American history.

Washington voters approved Initiative 502 on Tuesday and now cannabis will be legal for recreational use.

"I think it's a great think… get rid of prohibition," said Mark Plotner, who lives in Vancouver.

Under the law, adults 21 years and older would be allowed to have up to an ounce of marijuana starting on Dec. 6, but you still aren't allowed to light up in public.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will regulate the taxing and distribution of the pot and has a year to develop its plan.

Only marijuana grown by specially-licensed Washington farmers would be legal and that marijuana would then be sold in stand-alone, marijuana-only stores.

"When you consider the harm a legal drug such as alcohol does to society compared to that of marijuana; I think it's very obvious it should have been legalized long ago," said Jay Fawcett, who lives in Portland but supports the law.

A 25 percent tax would be included in the price of the pot, which the state estimates would cost users about $12 a gram.

Many in Washington believe this law will benefit the state in the long run.

In fact, some financial experts estimate this law could raise nearly $2 billion in tax revenue over the next five years.

"I support the measure and agree it should be legalized. I agree with it being used medicinally and I'm glad the measure passed," said Rebecca Winders, who lives in Vancouver and supports the initiative.

Law enforcement agencies, like the Clark County Sheriff's Office, admits it has yet to develop any protocols to deal with the new law.

"Its just something that just came on our doorstep this morning and again we're seeking legal guidance through our legal counsel," said Sgt. Fred Neiman, Clark County Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

Law enforcement agencies in Oregon say they will continue to enforce the law as it stands.

However; some police agencies are concerned that some Oregonians may end up driving to Washington to get high and then drive back under the influence.

The federal government still considers marijuana to be an illegal drug and said that law hasn't changed.

The Department of Justice said it is reviewing the ballot initiative in Washington.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney in Seattle said, "The Department of Justice's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. The Department is reviewing the ballot initiative here and in other states and has no additional comment at this time."

It's unclear whether the feds plan to step in to try and stop this law from going into effect on Dec. 6.

Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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