Is The War on Drugs Winding Down?


(Graphic by Magie Brennan)


by Amy Lock

2012 was a major year in the war on drugs.  With new government action and new legislation, both sides have made strong moves on the marijuana front.  

In the fight against prohibition, much of the discussion has focused on the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington.  It is also important to note that weed was decriminalized in Rhode Island and that medical marijuana became legal in both Connecticut and Massachusetts.  

Congress also made steps towards accepting marijuana usage, but voted 262 to 163 to continue raids on dispensaries in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.

Mid-2012, many Californian dispensaries received notices from the government that they were to close their doors within 45 days, despite state laws that had allowed for medical marijuana for 15 years.  These raids contradict Obama’s 2007 promises to not interfere with the states on the subject of marijuana.  

Medical marijuana in California is a $1.5 billion dollar industry, which might explain why it has been a major target for the raids.  Come May 2013, Los Angeles citizens will have the opportunity to vote on initiatives regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.

Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington, there are still many laws in place regarding who can smoke and where.  Smoking is limited to private property with the owner’s permission.  

In Colorado, colleges and universities decided unanimously to ban use on campus and in campus housing.  Like alcohol, use is limited to adults 21 years of age.  While it is legal to give marijuana to someone of legal age, all sales must be done through licensed stores.  Possession is limited to one ounce.  

In Colorado, it is legal to grow up to six plants without a license, but Washington still bans home cultivation.  Places of employment are still permitted to drug test employees and ban marijuana use.  Many of the finer points of the laws, such as which cities will allow for recreational marijuana storefronts, have yet to be decided.  However, these two states will blaze the way for other states to adopt similar legislation in the years to come.

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