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. I have read all of the above remarks…I smoked pot for years..from 68 to 95 every day…never got busted once…I did develop a psychic ability through it’s continued use…a painful process for sure…the pot helped…I look forward to a lot more folks increasing their awareness…now…That is to me what it’s all’s evolution baby….be careful and descreet and quietly go into the world ….and live…and prosper….

  2. Sign and share!
    I would like to see this petition do better than those asking to secede from the nation.
    If you’ve ever enjoyed a glass of wine, beer or indulged in a mixed drink to relax, it is hypocritical to vote against allowing people to use marijuana for the same purpose, or even a higher purpose…to medicate.
    Studies show that in states where its medical use is legal, DWI’s, DWI related car accidents and deaths, and teenage abuse of alcohol AND marijuana are all DOWN.
    Sign something that may very well make a difference and have your voice heard. Let’s stop the hypocrisy, end prohibition and the senseless, needless incarcerations!
    “Creating a duplicate or similar petition will make it harder for you to get an official response. Instead, sign and help promote the one that has already been created.
    The right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Throughout our history, Americans have used petitions to organize around issues they care about from ending slavery, to guaranteeing women’s right to vote, to the civil rights movement.”

  3. I think I have a feeling as to why the Feds are staying silent on this one…federal law: (vii) 1000 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marihuana, or 1,000 or more marihuana plants regardless of weight.

    This is why they were going after some dispensaries in my opinion…suspicion of weight and or plants going over the federal law amounts.

    I doubt the Feds can do anything to block the state laws because they do not really conflict with federal law. Now if the state law said individuals could grow 101 plants; or possess 101 kg. then they’d be suing…

    I doubt they could circumvent their own law; especially when it is tied up with state law; in it’s own wording.

    The laws of prohibition are unconstitutional; that’s why they had to amend the constitution 2 times for alcohol prohibition, once to start it, and again to end it.

    The federal government is supposed to be federalist, and follow the constitution to the letter; but some how moralist(lobbyist) law has entered into federal policy, in total disregard of the constitution of the USA.

    Do they want this to be uncovered; in a legal battle? No way Jose…the US supreme court will find all drug prohibition illegal.

    The feds don’t want that; so Cannabis policy can slide through uncontested, so long as they can keep the rest under wraps and prohibited.

  4. Today, Nov 13, the Washington governor met with the Assistant Attorney General and received the same answer as did the Colorado governor to their questions of whether to proceed with legalizing marihuana. The answer was no answer according the press reports. The Obama administration’s press release just restated their will to uphold federal law.

    Obviously, these governors want to know if they should start spending money to do what the voters wish. If they start this process, will the government try to stop them and make all their efforts a waste.

    The feds are bound to uphold the law as it stands. What else can they do? They aren’t going to look the other way when their jobs would be in jeopardy for not upholding the law. Until federal law is changed, they will fight this because it’s their job.

    Just because a few million voters in Washington and Colorado want to legalize pot doesn’t carry enough weight to get the feds to change the laws. It’ll take a full legislative action by Congress and a signature by the President to get marihauna off the Schedule I list.

  5. I think its bullshit im sittin here in illinois paranoid about a joint while all those people in washington and colorado dont have shit to worry bout what ever to everyone having equal rights i wanna beable to blaze that shit up anywhere i want and not go to jail…bullshit fuck this ill just keep smokin and wait for our time to come fuck the goverment suck my dick u cruked basterds lol…

  6. LMarie – As far as retroactive don’t expect much, however I did read that Seattle pd and King county DA would be dropping all ‘pending cases’ that deal with low level possession, similar may be occurring elsewhere in the state. I think that sadly is about the best you can expect for now.

  7. I noticed Colorado ultimately went red while Washington went blue. I find some encouragement in this alone. Hopefully we can find ‘common ground’ on the issue of reform.

  8. smokeIT, while some police might believe it is their job to arrest and harass pot heads, it is not their job. It never was, and never will be. The police are there to handle crime and marijuana has nothing to do with crime or crimes. The fact of the matter is (even though it will not hold weight in court yet) police arresting anyone for marijuana selling or possession alone who are happily committing a crime. So really, if they *want* to do their jobs well, the police really ought to stop arresting innocent people!

  9. Yes sir this is snowballing nicely. Just as it needs to. The Feds haven’t budged an inch. They are required by law the uphold the law. We call it brainwashed. Kind of a shitty job requirement. Public opinion is going wild. It’s easy to tell which news media is behind the legal pot side. The best thing to do is calmly keep the snowball rolling. Sign every petition you can find on legalizing pot. The big boy just want this to go away but it’s not going to happen. And if you post your own petition, use a little common since. The gang rap BS will just be ignored and your making the rest of us look bad plus wasting signatures. This is serious.

    Thanks NORML

  10. Yesterday, Nov 13, Washington Governor Gregiore said that she would keep the Justice Department informed of her state’s actions regarding the implementation of Initiative 502. This seems to be an affirmative response from the governor to the legalization of marijuana in Washington state. It would also appear that the Justice Department has not tried to discourage Washington from proceeding.

    You’d think that this would be getting more press attention. This is the first time anywhere in the world that voters have voted to legalize marijuana.

  11. Finally, it seems mary jane is following the same path as the alcohol prohibition did. I may move myself from Va to Co with a friend of mine that has family there. Las Vegas will no longer be THE party city!

  12. This is going fascinating to watch and, frankly, something I did not think I would see in my lifetime. The Federal Government response is not the only issue. For instance, I go to Colorado on vacation for a week and smoke pot while I am there. A couple of weeks after I get back home my employer performs a random drug test on me that is positive for THC. Can I be terminated for doing something “legal” in Colorado two weeks earlier? Sticky question, especially since THC stays in the body for such a long perioid of time. Any answers.

  13. the Kock brothers own many wood processing companys they do not want pot legal because they don’t want HEMP LEGAL.. that would kill there billion dollar lumber industry.they are thy same people who put over 1 billion dollars in roomneys campain.they are our worst enemys

  14. Now I understand that when these amendments go into place that anyone will be able to possess cannabis, regardless of residency, but will the operators of the dispensaries require membership or anything like that? Someone please give me some feedback if you know

  15. hey all….just a public service announcement!

    i’ve noticed a lot of law enforcement action across indiana and ohio with the state troopers of each being very active. they are heavily patrolling the interstates and the state borders. they are looking for anything to pull someone over….tail lamps out, liscence plate lights out, seat belt, speeding, the whole gammit. i think they are looking heavily for trafficing. they are paranoid that now it is legal in two states and it’s going to just explode out of there or something. just a heads up to all because i’m sure this is happenening in many other states as well. i won’t try to connect any dots just yet though

  16. dry in cinci@- Oklahoma has a life sentence penalty for cannabis- trichomes.(hashish.Yet across the state line to the north -east, Coloradians are enjoying a freedom that all Americans should aspire.

    Can you just imagine, Oklahoma state troopers along the border, waiting like male tom cats in heat,,,,,for their prey.

    WTF do they think this is,”Midnight Express” for christ sake’s?


  17. Please legalize in South Carolina too!!! Especially for the disabled. I am soooo very happy to see the end of prohibition beginning. THANKYOU WASHINGTON ST AND COLORADO FOR TAKING THE FIRST STEPS SINCE CALIFORNIA, ETC

  18. Would be nice if I could move so I could grow. I just enjoy it and I don’t even smoke, I just like growing.

  19. I would like to see the feds still looking at who and what they do, for our kids and teens. Legalization is great! However, we still have criminal elements that are NOT NICE people, and harm us and our Society. Let’s not forget to regulate this “Exactly the same” as we would the dangers of living a life of Substance abuse, such as the addictive “Alcohol”. Marijuana’s lack of physically addicting qualities does not preclude it from being abused like anything else, thus degrading our potential in life. Let it revolve around our life’s, and not our lives around it!

  20. ,lets, ,degrade our existince bacause of our future generations,

    like our DNA is not substantia,l? well i guess it is….LOL

    Its for the unborn,,,(politicians)….that is!

  21. Whats going to happen in the courts when it comes to distinguishing the difference between usage and impairment? The courts still havn’t realized there is a difference between usage and impaiment. Knowing the difference will determine when the courts can prosecute employees and/or employers for employment drug policies. There will be allot of misunderstandings and law suits for urine drug tests. The current urine tests only test for metabolites which shows usage. Not the active THC in the blood that causes impaiment. So even though legalization has begun there is still allot of work to do if people don’t want thier privacy invaded or discriminated against using marijuana on their own time.


  23. Best way to beat it at this point is to show that this is what the majority of America wants, the petition that is up is a great way to show the Feds we need to get that petition into the millions. It’s also a great way for those not already, to get involved in the fight and let your voices be heard.

  24. i’m just wondering what happen to those people in jail for the possession, used, and sell of marijuana? Will they still be in jail since marijuana is legalize? Will their jail sentences decrease?

    I need the answer to that question since I’m having a speech on it.


  25. In Washington we good with same sex marriages, having the state stoned, but would prefer to see people hurt in car wrecks because people have issues with studded tires. What about the semi-trucks? Idiots and now we will have more due to stoned idiots making decisions.

  26. I have a Commercial Drivers License(CDL) and live in Portland Oregon. I think it would be real great if I could drive up to Washington and smoke weed legally. Having a CDL means I am subject to random Drug Tests administered by the Department Of Transportation(DOT). It is my understanding that if I were to fail a UA, my excuse “I was in Washington state 3 or 4 days ago, when i smoked” would fall on deaf ears at the DOT. But the fact would remain that i was not operating a CDL vehicle while impaired and I did not break the law when I smoked in Washington. I am wondering, if this situation ever came to pass if i would have a fighting chance in a legal battle? I know that many laws have grey ares but this is just about the greyest i can think of. Is there any one out there with an intelligent response to this hypothetical situation?

    [Paul Armentano responds: DOT is a federal agency and is under federal drug testing guidelines so the change is state law would not provide protection against these federal drug testing policies.]

  27. At last, we are finally entering the age and era of sane, rational, and common-thinking use. I always knew marijuana would become legal in my lifetime!!!! let the high times begin!!!!!!!!!

  28. Wow! The United States Air Force sent me in 1973 to NKP Thailand for a 68 day TDY. There I was introduced to my new and everlasting love of high grade landrace Thai Stick (YUMMM!!!) and then to Alaska in late ’73 so I could sample Matanuska Thunderfuck. It was the time of the $40 lid…There’s an old pothead term…Anyhow’s I am in fantasyland with the fact that us old Hippies have finally made headway in the silly ass notion to make illegal a plant that GOD gave to us to use and enjoy. Had GOD not intended man to use cannabis, HE would have made it into a thistle. As far as “stupid pothead assholes now out driving around causing accidents”,…well hell we have been doing it for over 50 years now, and how many accidents are on record for pot compared to that poison called ALCOHOL! Also most stoners are too baked to get off the couch(that’s why pizza places deliver)so unless we are on the way to score would be the reason to drive in the first place. Congrats NORML, for keeping up the fight all these years, and kudo’s to WA. and CO. for their insight and wisdom on the billions spent on the ignorant Drug War(may Nixon roast in Hell)….Thank you for allowing me to post on my most favorite love and medicine

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