Colorado Legalizes Marijuana

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Cannabis Station, a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado.

Jessica Layton, Staff Writer

As of January 1, 2014, Colorado became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

With the enactment of Colorado’s Amendment 64, marijuana will be regulated similarly to alcohol. Citizens of Colorado, age 21 or older, with a valid ID can purchase up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, while valid out of state tourists can purchase up to a quarter of an ounce at a time.

Colorado is the first state in the nation to have legalized the drug for recreational use, and the first in the world with an official, government regulated marijuana retail system.  According to Michael Martinez of CNN.com, Washington is expected to begin legal retail of the drug in the spring.

An important reason why the law was passed was to boost to the economy, which marijuana retail will provide.  Taxpayers will save approximately $10 billion yearly by removing the cost of prior prohibition enforcement. Matt Ferner of the HuffingtonPost.com reports that retail marijuana has a 25 percent state tax plus 2.9 percent sales tax with some stores charging $50 to $70 per one-eighth of an ounce.  Additionally, according to CNN.com, Michael Martinez reports, state tax officials have said, “The additional revenue will initially amount to 70 million a year, with 27.5 million of it designated to build schools.” Medical marijuana will continue to be sold at separate outlets without the tax.

While it is still illegal for people under 21 to use marijuana, it has been decriminalized for those ages 18 to 21, meaning no jail time for possession of an ounce or less.

Additionally, citizens of Colorado are now able to grow up to six marijuana plants in their own homes.  They are also allowed to share with legal friends as long as no money is involved.