Seventeen states already have medical marijuana laws on the books, but now Colorado, Oregon and Washington want to expand that to recreational use.
Initiative 502, the Washington marijuana measure, is ahead 57-33 percent with 10 percent undecided. Its backers include Seattle’s former top FBI agent. In defiance of federal law, Initiative 502 would allow people 21 and older to buy an ounce of marijuana from stores regulated and licensed by the state, where it would be taxed at 25 percent.
“These measures are all very similar to what was on the ballot in California two years ago,” Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “Proposition 19 would have legalized the use and sale and possession of marijuana for anybody age 21 or older, and regulated it and taxed it much the same way alcohol is regulated and taxed.”
The measure failed in California, but polls show the initiatives are leading the polls in Colorado as well. If the measure passes in any of those states, it could serve as a bellwether, creating a de-facto nullification of federal laws on pot with an even greater effect than 17 state medical marijuana laws have had
Three other states are voting on medical marijuana this November, including Arkansas, which is the first southern state to consider it.