Marijuana legalization on the ballot
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- On Tuesday, voters in three Western states are casting their ballots on an unorthodox way of raising tax revenue: marijuana legalization.
Colorado, Oregon and Washington each have statewide measures to legalize cannabis for recreational use, in the hope that it stimulates the economy and fills state coffers.
"Whatever state votes to legalize, they'll have become the first state to cross the legalization Rubicon anywhere in the U.S.," said Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for NORML, which advocates for the reform of marijuana laws.
Analysts of the legalization issue say that Washington's Initiative 502, to legalize and regulate marijuana for people aged 21 and older, has the best chance of passing. They say it proposes a relatively heavy taxation on the drug, which might make it appealing to budget hawks.
The Washington referendum calls for a 25% tax rate imposed on the product three times: when the grower sells it to the processor, when the processor sells it to the retailer, and when the retailer sells it to the customer.
It's not clear exactly how much tax revenue legalization would bring in. Estimates for the Washington measure run as high as $500 million -- a figure analysts say is overstated.
Why Mexico Is Rooting for U.S. Pot Legalization
Mexico and the U.S. are tightly entwined economically -- and this is as true of the illegal economy as the legal one. If popular ballot measures to legalize marijuana in Colorado, Washington and Oregon pass on November 6, a respected Mexican think tank says that it will hit the cartels where it hurts: In the pocketbook, to the tune of several billion dollars. While tough police and military operations on both sides of the border have largely failed to slow the cartels, legalization would be "the biggest structural shock suffered by drug trafficking in Mexico since the massive arrival of cocaine in the late eighties," the researchers wrote.
The report from the Mexican Center for Competitiveness (IMCO) (in Spanish) is based on an earlier study by the RAND Corporation, which determined that a 2010 ballot proposal could cut the income of Mexican drug dealers by 20%. The updated research suggests that cartels earn $6 billion each year from marijuana sales in the United States. If Washington, the state most likely to pass its ballot measure, does so, IMCO reports it will cut the cartels' income by $1.37 billion, or about 23% of their revenue (though some cartels will be hit harder than others). Legalization in Oregon and Colorado would result in similar declines.
This would happen, the report assumes, because the infrastructure created by these ballot initiatives would result in cheaper and higher-quality domestic production of marijuana, which would also have less far to travel to reach its customers. That would drive Mexican pot purveyors, who face the costly challenge of crossing the border with their goods, at least partly out of the market.
Amendment 64 Passes: Colorado Legalizes Marijuana For Recreational Use
The Rocky Mountain High just got a whole lot higher. On Tuesday night, Amendment 64 -- the measure which sought the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults -- was passed by Colorado voters, making Colorado the first state to end marijuana prohibition in the United States.
With about 36 percent of precincts reporting at the time of publishing, 9News and Fox31 report that Amendment 64 has passed.
The passage of the state measure is without historical precedent and the consequences will likely be closely-watched around the world. 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.
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
Washington State Legalizes Marijuana
Six states had marijuana-related measures on the ballot Tuesday -- three to legalize recreational use; Washington's I-502, Colorado's Amendment 64 and Oregon's Measure 80. Colorado's amendment showed early leads Tuesday evening.
Under Washington's I-502, anyone over the age of 21 would be able to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and the state would regulate and tax the sale of pot.
Those wanting to grow and sell would apply to the state for a license. Estimates are that the new pot tax would raise nearly $500 million a year, much of which would be earmarked for drug prevention and education programs.
In an interview earlier this year on “60 Minutes,” the Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole indicated that federal authorities could take aim at any state laws that legalize pot, saying, "We're going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we're going to go after those dangers."
Attorney General Eric Holder was blunter in 2010 when he threatened to "vigorously enforce" federal law if California legalized marijuana (that measure failed).
Opponents of I-502 said they believe the U.S. attorney in Seattle would seek a court injunction to stop the law in its tracks.
“It's a fantasy that the state is ever really going to have this, it's not going to be legal, it's not going to work, the federal government is going to pre-empt this thing in five minutes,” said Douglas Hiatt of the anti-502 group Sensible Washington.
But that hasn't really happened with medical marijuana, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, a backer of 502, added that he believes the Feds will back off if voters make pot legal.
“I don’t think the federal government’s going to ignore a clear voter mandate from the state of Washington,” Holmes said.
On Tuesday, Marijuana Moves to Center Stage in Three States
Category: Legalization | Posted on Mon, November, 5th 2012 by THCFinder
Some of the more intriguing initiatives on state ballots Tuesday involve marijuana.
While 17 states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana use for medical purposes, none have yet sanctioned use of pot for recreational use. But that could all change Tuesday, when voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington will vote on measures that would allow residents to possess and use marijuana.
Could this actually happen? According to the polling numbers, the answer is, well, maybe. According to the USA Today:
Independent polls have shown proponents leading in Washington and Colorado a month or more before the election, but the outcome remains in doubt, and both sides are aware of what happened in California in 2010: The similar Proposition 19 lost 53.5% to 46.5% after an early lead in favor disappeared.
The Oregon measure, meanwhile, appears to face a harder climb.
The ramifications of a “yes” vote in any of the three states could be fascinating. For starters, federal law still bans the use of recreational marijuana.
So, theoretically, you could see federal authorities marching on Seattle, Boulder or Eugene to round up tokers while state authorities stand aside.
(An at least equally plausible scenario: the federal government right away sues to stop the initiative from taking effect — and the whole thing gets held up pending review by a federal appeals court — or possibly the U.S. Supreme Court.)
Another imponderable: to what degree would one of these states instantly become a tourist destination for those looking to partake, without fear of legal reprisal. According to this USA Today story, not everyone thinks legalization would lead to a boom in tourist dollars.
Read more: http://blogs.wsj.com
US Voters Could Win The Drug War Tomorrow
Category: Legalization | Posted on Mon, November, 5th 2012 by THCFinder
Voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington could pass measures tomorrow that would potentially cripple Mexico's drug cartels.
Sari Horwitz of Washington Post reports that the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's oldest and most powerful, is selling a record amount of heroin and methamphetamine in Chicago as it takes its burgeoning marijuana trade to the next level.
But Amendment 64 in Colorado and I-502 in Washington—both of which currently have a majority of support among likely voters—could change all of that by making marijuana legal for persons 21-years-old and older while taxing it under a tightly regulated system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol.
The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), a Mexico City think-tank, published a report detailing how legalization at the state level could sink cartel revenues from drug trafficking because "one or more states could meet most of its domestic demand with domestic production."
Since the quality of U.S.-grown marijuana is much better than Mexico-grown, the IMCO figures that domestic bud from Colorado, Oregon or Washington would be cheaper everywhere in the country besides near the border.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com
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