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Nov 7, 2012 by MARCO TORRES
A Precedent? Colorado Becomes The First US State To Legalize Marijuana

In a historic and significant moment in American history, Colorado has become the first US state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The impact of the decision could ripple across the entire country with vast opportunities to educate millions on the benefits of marijuana.

The victory is bitter sweet because in reality, you can't legalize freedom since it's an inherent right. There is no legal entity on the face of the planet that has a statutory authority to prevent a human being from possessing and growing a plant in nature. However illegal, this is exactly what the United States has proposed as a measure of control over its citizens for over a century.

In 2003, the U.S. Government as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services filed for, and was awarded a patent on cannabinoids. The reason? Because research into cannabinoids allowed pharmaceutical companies to acquire practical knowledge on one of the most powerful antioxidants and neuroprotectants known to the natural world.

Amendment 64 asked Colorado voters whether or not marijuana should be regulated in the same way the state regulates the sale of alcohol to people 21 and older. Some called it a copout and failure to protect citizens from their rights and allow marijuana back into the public domain any time, any place and at any age. Others praised the amendment suggesting it was the first phase to regulate but decriminalize cannabis.

The ballot measure is the result of several months of lobbying from pro-marijuana organizations who believe decriminalization could help law enforcement rearrange resources and staff for more serious crimes.

“We went up against 70 years of lies to keep marijuana illegal for evil reasons,” said Betty Aldworth, one of the leading spokeswomen for the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol campaign. “And we took them down.”

“We are thrilled to end marijuana prohibition in Colorado and to have an opportunity to change the way we approach marijuana in this state,” stated Aldworth.

"Legalization will change the game here in America," said Denver native and outspoken activist Justin Rhodes. "We've been waiting for this for a long time and it's finally here."

Pro-legalization groups believe decriminalization will boost the state’s economy with new taxes and licensing fees. However, many activists believe that no state level or federal government has the right to inact any laws to tax or license part of nature. "It's as ridiculous as patenting genes and licensing them on behalf of corporate America," said Monika Baldwin from the MMJ community cannabis foundation. "This is not something beneficial for the people of Colorado as such laws continue to stifle progress to liberate our constitutional rights and freedoms that will remain unchanged by this amendment," she added.

The federal government had their say as well, “The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” says U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner. “In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”

The healing powers of marijuana and specifically how its active ingredients prevent disease lends credibility to claims that the pharmaceutical industry is behind marijuana prohibition laws.

Donald L. Abrams, MD, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital said "unfortunately, [marijuana] carries with it a long and not so long history of being a persecuted plant."

In an interview with The Huffington Post, the authors/researchers behind the book "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs To Know" pointed out that the measure in Colorado is truly groundbreaking, comparing it to the legalization that Amsterdam enjoys:

The Netherlands became the world's first country to make cannabis available to treat cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis patients. A recent poll suggested Canada is also reaching the tipping point as a 66 percent majority favours legalizing marijuana.

A common error is to believe that the Netherlands has already legalized cannabis (the preferred term for marijuana in Europe). What has been de facto legalized is only the retail sale of 5 grams (about a sixth of an ounce) or less. Production and wholesale distribution is still illegal, and that prohibition is enforced, which is largely why the price of sinsemilla in the “coffee shops” isn’t much different than the price in American dispensaries.

Although Colorado "legalized it," it will be several months, perhaps as long as a year, before Colorado adults 21-and-over can enjoy the legal sale of marijuana. However, the parts of the amendment related to individual behavior will go into effect as soon as Governor Hickenlooper certifies the results of the vote, a proclamation he is obligated to do within 30 days of the election, The Colorado Independent reported.

The question is, will the rest of the United States now follow suit or remain in a state of denial and refusal to decriminalize the most persecuted plant in the world?


Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

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