What to Do About CO and WA?

The White House's national drug czar and the Justice Department have not yet, at this writing, announced what they think of, or how they will respond to, the voters of Colorado and Washington state, after both polities passed marijuana legalization measures Nov. 6. Speculation about what the votes mean is rampant in all sorts of arenas, from sports talk shows –- both states are home to NFL franchises and other professional sports teams –- to Latin American political leaders, U.S. political websites, state governments' sites, and many newspapers' sites.

USA Today's Natalie DiBlasio reported Nov. 12 that universities' spokesmen in both states expect no immediate changes in their policies and aren't sure the measures will have much impact on their schools.

As far as I can tell from the associations' posted information, the biggest U.S. safety trade shows, ASSE's, AIHce, and NSC, won't visit either state in the next two years (although Denver and Seattle have hosted more than a few big conferences in recent years). In any case, the necessary state regulations governing how marijuana possession and cultivation are taxed and regulated in the two states will take time; the Washington State Liquor Control Board's deadline to issue the criteria for implementing the state's Initiative 502 is Dec. 1, 2013, for example.

The votes may be momentous for employers in both states. (Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks come immediately to mind for Washington state.) The Denver Post's Nov. 10 editorial may be instructive: It urged federal officials to adopt a proposal by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat, to amend Section 903 of the federal Controlled Substances Act that would exempt from the act all state provisions "relating to marijuana." DeGette "didn't actually take a position on Amendment 64 during the campaign" but "has moved decisively," the editorial stated. It said she plans to seek support from members of Colorado's delegation and other Washington state members of Congress.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Nov 14, 2012

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