Uruguay is the first country in the world to fully legalize and regulate the production, distrubtion and sale of cannabis. Laws have passed the Congress and yet only the Senate needs to give its approval. While the market’s eyes are set on to Uruguay, marijuana activists are rapidly winning terrain in the United States as well.
Three Michigan cities that voted to relax enforcement for marijuana possession – Ferndale, Jackson and the state capital of Lansing – are among a growing trend nationwide toward decriminalization, if not outright legalization, of small amounts of marijuana.
All three Michigan measures passed with overwhelming support, winning approval by 61 percent Jackson, 63 percent in Lansing and 69 percent in Ferndale. One licensed caretaker in Ferndale, who dispenses marijuana for medical use under a state initiative passed in 2008, said the strong support indicates public opinion is changing.
“It’s quite amazing,” Andrew Cissel told the Associated Press. “It really fuels for momentum to continue the progress that we need to do in the state.”
Michigan voters were joined by initiatives in Maine and Colorado in advancing acceptance and moving away from prosecution of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.
In Main, Portland voters decriminalized possession of under 2.5 ounces of marijuana, but also banned marijuana use in many public places. Meanwhile, in Colorado, among the first states to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes last year, voters approved a 25 percent tax on pot retailers beginning in 2014, which could lead to an increase of home growers who currently reach out to online seed suppliers in Europe. While Colorado has moved on the statewide level, many decriminalization and legalization efforts are focused on local municipalities across the nation.
Marijuana Policy Project
The pro-marijuana advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project aims to see marijuana legalized in 13 states by 2016. Next up for MPP organizers is Alaska, where efforts are underway to force a legalization vote by ballot imitative in 2014.
MPP is lobbying legislators in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont and is shooting for voter-forced ballot measures in Maine, Arizona, California, Nevada, Montana and Massachusetts within the next three years.
In Colorado, meanwhile, the steep 25 percent statewide marijuana tax far exceeds the state’s 2.9 percent retail sales tax on other goods. Analysts predict it will generate $33.5 million of state coffers in 2014 and $57 million in its second year.
Many pro-marijuana advocates in Colorado have criticized the steep tax, arguing that it could be a setback for legal sellers and further incentive the black market.