In what may be a silent admission that the “war on drugs” has failed abysmally, there’s been a flurry of recent activity signalling that, much like same-sex marriage, marijuana policies have reached a tipping point in the US.
On June 1, Connecticut legalised medical marijuana, making it the 17th US state, in addition to Washington D.C., to do so.
On June 12, Washington’s government announced four dispensaries eligible to distribute medical marijuana in the nation’s capital. While medical marijuana was already legal there, the dispensaries are new.
Three days later, Rhode Island decriminalised small amounts of marijuana, making it the 15th state to do so.
Also in early June, the governor of New York announced his support for decriminalising marijuana in public view — currently it is decriminalised in private view.
Legislation for legalising medical marijuana is pending in Illinois and New Hampshire, ballot initiatives have already qualified in Colorado and Washington.
The latest moves make it likely that marijuana lobby group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), will reach its goal of having medical marijuana legalised in the majority of US states by 2014.
“For medical marijuana, I think the prospects are pretty good,” said Morgan Fox, communications manager for MPP.
“For medical marijuana, I think the prospects are pretty good,” said Morgan Fox, communications manager for MPP. “If there is the same activity next year, I don’t think it will be a stretch at all to say 28 [states will have legalised medical marijuana] by 2014.”
Fox noted there are important differences between medical marijuana laws and decriminalisation.
“Decriminalisation is far, far different that a medical marijuana law, in which there is a regulated system to provide medical marijuana to patients,” he explained.
“Decriminalisation doesn’t have to do with the supply side, it only deals with small possession. It doesn’t affect the market.”
Colorado and Washington, which both already have medical marijuana laws and decriminalisation of possession of small amounts, are considering legislation to take it a step further — to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol or cigarettes. This means marijuana could be sold in stores.
“We have reached a tipping point — more than half of Americans think marijuana should be treated similar to alcohol or tobacco. By regulating it, we’ll be able to ensure criminals won’t control the marijuana market,” Fox said.
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