As WA's Pot Law Takes Effect, What's Next? - Law and Daily Life
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As WA's Pot Law Takes Effect, What's Next?

Washington state's Initiative 502, a voter-approved measure that legalizes recreational marijuana under state law, goes into effect today (Dec. 6). But with many legal issues still up in the air, what's supposed to happen next?

The biggest cloud hanging over Washington's new marijuana law is the fact that marijuana use, both recreational and medicinal, remains illegal under federal law, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer. So at any moment, the federal government or a federal court may step in and attempt to take away the rights that citizens voted for.

But ignoring that uncomfortable fact, here are some things that you may want to know about Washington's new law, and the other voter-approved pot law in Colorado that's set to take effect next month:

In Washington state, Initiative 502 is now the law and includes the following provisions:

  • You have to be 21 or older to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
  • Individuals are allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational use.
  • Currently, only medicinal marijuana users are allowed to grow pot in their homes.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal. A new "drugged driving" standard is now in effect that sets the limit for driving under the influence of marijuana at 5 nanograms of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in pot) per milliliter of blood. Drivers under 21 are subject to a zero-tolerance policy for driving while high.

However, while it's now legal to possess marijuana in Washington state, there's still no legal way to buy marijuana outside of medical dispensaries. Rules about retail marijuana production, distribution, and sales are supposed to be in place by Dec. 1, 2013, The New York Times reports.

In Colorado, Amendment 64 goes into effect Jan. 5 and contains the following provisions:

  • You will have to be 21 or older to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
  • Individuals will be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes.
  • You will be able to grow up to six marijuana plants in your home, but only three of those plants can be mature, flowering plants.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana will still be illegal. However, there is a proposed law that, like Washington state, would set the limit for driving under the influence of marijuana at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

Officials in both states will also have to hammer out how marijuana will be taxed. After all, the potential profits from legalized marijuana partly motivated the new laws in both states.

If you have questions about how the new recreational marijuana laws affect you, it may be wise to consult an attorney in your area, especially if you live in Washington state or Colorado. With a new poll finding most Americans support marijuana legalization, these two states could be the first of many.

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