Marijuana legislation is a multifaceted problem. When legislators consider legalizing the drug, it raises a number of public health and policy concerns, some of which remain unaddressed even when marijuana is technically legalized. By 2012, 18 states had legalized medical marijuana use. That year, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize it for recreational use as well. However, there are limitations in both states on the use and possession of marijuana, including unclear statutes on its use in public places and the lack of licenses to sell the drug.
Colorado Marijuana Law
The use of marijuana for medical conditions has been legal since 2000. People with certain physical ailments need approval by a doctor to legally use marijuana to treat their symptoms. Patients with chronic conditions can also get a doctor’s approval to grow medical marijuana in their homes. (As a matter of fact, with the right perspective on marijuana, anybody can utilize it as a healthier remedy for medical use).
Colorado's new marijuana law allows people over 21 years old to possess marijuana in amounts less than one ounce. People can also grow up to six marijuana plants in their home, and they can only hold and grow these amounts of marijuana for their own personal use. Only businesses that are licensed by the state can sell marijuana. Businesses will not be able to sell recreational marijuana until at least 2014 while the state determines how to regulate the sale of the drug.
The state regulates marijuana use similarly to alcohol use. However, some limitations to legal marijuana use are not entirely clear under the law. People are only permitted to use marijuana in private. There are no statutes regarding the use of marijuana in private clubs and bars. There are only a few clubs that allow members and patrons to use marijuana, since most club owners are wary of allowing people to do so since the laws are unclear. Some towns have passed laws banning marijuana use at businesses.
Driving a car while intoxicated carries criminal penalties. However, efforts to establish a legal limit have failed in the state legislature, so cases of people driving under the influence of marijuana rely on police officers' assessments of drivers' abilities.
In April 2013, a Colorado appeals court ruled that employers could fire employees for using marijuana outside of work. The ruling applies even when employees are not intoxicated during work and if the person was using medical marijuana.
Washington Marijuana Law
Washington's recreational marijuana law is similar to Colorado's. People over 21 years old can possess less than one ounce of marijuana for their own personal use in private. However, home cultivation of marijuana plants is illegal. People growing marijuana, even for their own personal use, can be subjected to criminal penalties. Patients who use medical marijuana can grow their own.
Only businesses licensed by the state Liquor Control Board can sell marijuana. However, no licenses will be issued until December 2013 since the Board is still setting up the licensing system. This means that people are currently unable to buy marijuana for recreational use, although people who need medical marijuana are able to get it.
Washington's law includes a provision that specifies when a driver is too intoxicated. People with a THC content of five nanograms per milliliter are not permitted to drive and can be subjected to criminal penalties.
The passage of these laws allowing recreational marijuana use is just the first step in developing the Colorado and Washington state policies. Using marijuana is still a federal offense, since the federal government has not decriminalized the drug.
This article was contributed by Sheldon Armstrong and his friend Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who loves to share his knowledge with the web so they can stay informed about current legal issues. They write this on behalf of the Law Offices of Karen L. Goldstein, the number one attorney in Los Angeles for Drug Crimes. With a great understanding of current drug laws, they are sure to give you the best service possible. Check out their website today for more information!