Colorado and Washington Legalized Marijuana Tuesday, What Happens Now?

Tuesday night, the states of Colorado and Washington sent a loud and clear message to the federal government that they no longer wish to enforce the futile prohibition on cannabis. The symbolic impact of these victories are immediate, but what are the practical effects on the ground now that these two initiatives have been approved?


In Washington State, regulations for the marijuana retail outlets are going to start being drafted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. This process is expected to last about a year. The immediate impact of passing I-502 is on the state laws regarding possession. Starting on December 6th, Section 20 of the initiative will take effect. This section effectively states that any person over the age of 21 is legally allowed to possess up to 1oz of dried marijuana, 16oz of marijuana solids (edibles), and 72oz of cannabis infused liquids (think oils and lotions). It is also no longer a crime to possess marijuana paraphernalia.

Law enforcement representatives in the state have already released some statements on this matter. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, from the Seattle Police Department, said, “For us, the law has changed, and people can expect no enforcement for possession.”

“What you can expect,” Sgt. Whitcomb clarified, “is no enforcement on possession, that is a reasonable expectation.”


The vote in Colorado is awaiting final certification, a process that is expected to take about a month. After this approval, it will immediately become legal in Colorado for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and for them to grow up to 6 plants in a secure indoor space.

The state is required to adopt a legal framework for retail sales by July of 2013, the first marijuana retail outlets could potentially open as early as the start of 2014.

Colorado’s law enforcement seems just as keen as Washington’s, for the time being, to honor the will of the people. “We’re not federal agents,” stated Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, who opposed Amendment 64 during the campaign.

“We can arrest people if they’re wanted on warrants on federal crimes, but unless we’re involved in a specific case … where (a deputy is) cross-commissioned as a federal agent,” he said, “we don’t directly enforce federal law.”

While he ended his statement with a patronizing jab, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper seems willing to abide by the desire of his state’s citizens on this issue. “The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday night.

“This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said,” he ended, “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”

These protections in both states, when certified and placed into effect, will apply to anyone physically in the state, no residency required. Public consumption would remain a violation in both states, but a civil, not criminal, one.

As always, NORML will keep you posted as these laws become certified and come into effect and will be tracking the process of implementing retail outlets every step of the way.

219 thoughts

  1. Oh yeah,…I forgot,…that happens sometimes…when I get too stoned…I usually pass out on the couch…But what the Hell…I just wake and bake again…It sucks to be disabled, but this new insight into legalization…Colorado isn’t that far away and besides it’s beautiful there as it is in Washington

  2. What a long , overdue issue that should have been a vote for the entire country, not just the 2 states that did finally legalize a harmless herb. Now the rest of the states need to follow their lead and lets all be free to grow the plant of our choice and purchase some marijuana by the ounce as needed for medical or just plain relief. I am optimistic that we shall follow our 2 great pot states and get this plant freed for all of us. It should be legal for any reason for anyone who wants or needs marijuana if you are of age. Some steps should be taken to ensure people are not driving under the influence,that being said i cant foresee any other problems.(besides the feds)Tennessee would be my choice for the next legal state. Plenty of sick, and regular smokers here and no other states in the south and only one in the mid-west are even medical states. We need the quality weed here and then maybe there would not be so many crackheads and meth heads in this part of the country. At least one state should rally and get it going here down south with is often overlooked. Cultivation of huge amounts are possible in this climate which is perfect for most strains and with light and dark controlled you could get two outdoor harvest a year just as they do with corn. The light could be blocked by a heavy duty tarp or something. Then comes jobs for this struggling area then taxes. Just cant figure out whats taking so long for everyone see this.It is clear to me that marijuana is a harmless ,helpful, and with the right laws a job producer and great way for the state to get some much needed income.

  3. Is a petition to legalize pot being circulated in the state of Kansas? If so, how can I help? If not, How can I get one started? Thank you, JMP

  4. Let freddom ring!
    The POWER OF THE PEOPLE is what really rules this country.
    Just need to replace a few stubborn prohibitionist at the federal level!!!!
    Support legislators working on our behalf..

  5. just think, cannabis hemp can be used to build houses, make plywood and being extremely lightweight and strong — very earthquake resistant.

  6. How about legalizing prostitution now? any takers? We don’t have a csa to get rid of so it should be easier. People should be allowed to pay for sex. Mandatory testing would be commonplace instead of the dirty world of prostitution now. Also, just maybe we’d have less rape and other sex crimes.

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