January 1st 2014 marked a fresh start for the residents of Colorado. In the cold winter, shivering residents and tourists lined outside the first 40 shops that began selling what was once illegal for recreational use in Colorado: cannabis.
The first day of the year opened the state to a whole new mix of possibilities, perspectives, apprehensions and excitement as selling of marijuana in limited amount for recreational use is now permitted under the state’s new legislation. Regulations similar to that covering alcohol consumption are also in place.
Today, skeptics and supporters back their own theories as to how such major overhaul in legislation may play a role in the state’s diverse population. Some worry the greatest defeat might be felt among teenagers, who could succumb to addiction and, as a result, would be part of a greater number of school dropouts and social deviance.
Others, on the other hand, claim victory and welcomed the greater possibilities of discovering more of the controversial herb’s medicinal and almost magical powers for our well being.
We at Smokazon, however, will stick to the facts first and see what the short-term effects will be. So far, we’ve seen the following events unfold. And so far, most of these are on the promising side. Let’s take a closer look:
New Hope For Individuals Needing Medical Marijuana
The use of medical marijuana may have long been legal in more than 20 states in the U.S., but the complex web of legal requirements and prescriptions have left the law almost useless and unworkable for most individuals who need immediate medical attention and care.
According to New York Times, in December 2013, a month before Colorado’s new law on marijuana took effect, hundreds of families already flocked to the state and waited for the day to come when their medical woes would end, or at least, be alleviated with a considerable amount of the herb never before allowed as legal.
Among them was Heather Jackson, executive director the Realm of Caring Foundation. Her son, Zaki, would suffer 200 seizures a day in addition to his already existing developmental disabilities. But more than a year ago, she tried what was once thought as unconventionally unwise for a mother to do: introduce marijuana into the boy’s system. Since then, the boy’s seizure incredibly went into remission, according to Ms. Jackson.
Ms. Jackson’s story was just part of other families’ accounts on how their family members’ conditions went into remission — thanks to medical marijuana. The people who gathered in Colorado came from different religions and political parties, as if to say that they have come united for a common cause. Metaphorically, just as many of the children’s seizures stopped, so has the long list of prohibitions in Colorado surrounding the use of recreational marijuana.
Questions, Skepticism and Excitement in Other States
What’s next to Colorado? Washington.
Although the state’s system lags behind Colorado in terms of systematically organizing and regulating marijuana trade, many of its residents are already looking forward to the middle of the year, when the state’s provisions get ironed out.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in the first two states has indeed resulted in polarized viewpoints, controversies and questions. What transpires in these two states in the coming months and years will surely be the major basis for other states to either follow suit or reject the legalization for good. Yet, even the federal government is already flirting with the possibility of a nation open to the use of cannabis for both medical and recreational use — at least in its regulated form.
Yet questions abound: Will illegal drug trade bleed across states? Or, what will happen to the black market altogether, when black no longer means absolutely black? Will there be a hidden shift of recreational marijuana use — from legal adults to teenagers, even children? These questions linger, and today, it seems only time holds the clues.
But for many supporters, one thing is clear: Using marijuana as you would shots of alcohol results in milder effects, even therapeutic and sometimes, ‘miraculous.’
Taxes and Better Economy
The month of February marks the first glimpses of taxes paid by Colorado stores selling recreational marijuana. The inaugural month of January brought forth projections as to how much the state will collect annually from marijuana trade. Already, the estimate amounts to about $100 million.
The estimated numbers will surely create a little push for Alaska, Arizona, California and Oregon — states that will probably follow the steps of Colorado and Washington to legalize recreational cannabis. In Colorado alone, Gov. John W. Hickenlooper estimated that in the next fiscal year, marijuana sales could reach as high as $1 billion. An estimated 60 percent of the total sales would likely be attributed to recreational marijuana sales.
The extra money Colorado will collect annually could boost expenditures on construction, health care, school and programs aimed to focus on the homeless. Already, plans are under way to construct schools out of the $40 million tax revenue from marijuana sales, the New York Times reports.
At present, however, the state has yet to release the exact amount of the collected taxes, and future projections are just the most probable guesses. Nevertheless, the sudden surge of extra money means good economy for Colorado. And once the exact numbers come, other states would likely be encouraged to follow. And current situations and needs, tell us that we should legalize cannabis use, once and for all.
A Ray of Hope: Reversing Convictions
Convicted of possessing marijuana? No problem. The new Colorado law may also be used to challenge previous convictions for minor marijuana crimes. The law, formally referred to as Amendment 64, can retroactively overturn convictions placed even in years prior to the 2012 cast ballots to legalize recreational marijuana use.
This is probably the best news anyone covered under the new law could receive. Decriminalizing marijuana would mean freedom to dozens of those convicted for growing a maximum of six marijuana plants at home or for possessing an ounce or less of cannabis concentrate. Several prosecutors across Colorado have already dropped current charges against those caught possessing the legal amount of cannabis.
Amendment 64, however, does not apply to those behind bars for possessing more than the legal amount allowed by the new legislation. In the end, users and licensed sellers need to be responsible enough to use and sell cannabis responsibly in accordance to the law.
In this current context, so many questions are still left unanswered as to how such new legislation will shape the society as a whole. What we presented though are the imminent results of the new law. What is clear is that when used responsibly and with boundaries, marijuana can be our ally for good health and sound mind.
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