While most of the rest of the nation, California included, seems to remain embroiled in the struggle to legalize personal marijuana use, both for medical purposes and for recreation, Colorado hits the 1-year mark for having simply legalized it for adults. The question on everyone’s proverbial lips is: was this a wise move or not? According to the data out of Colorado, legalizing marijuana has been a boon for the state both economically and socially.
In Colorado, much like medical marijuana outlets in California, adults 21 years of age or older) are able to enter state-run dispensaries, produce verifiable identification (like a driver’s license), and purchase marijuana legally for any purpose. What is not often mentioned is that possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use has been legal in Colorado since 2012 (see Amendment 64). The current industry is highly regulated, producing revenue and jobs, and seems to have caused a decline in the rate of underage consumption.
As it stands now, in the state of California, possession of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana is considered an ‘infraction’ that amounts to a simple $100 fine and no jail time. Additionally, underage possession of the same could mean 10 days in jail and a $250-$500 fine. Even charges of marijuana possession of more than 28.5 grams (if the possessor does not intend to sell it) is a misdemeanor, resulting in a $500 maximum fine and a potential 6 months of incarceration. (CA Health and Safety Code 11357 – 11362) Does this mean that California and other states will soon follow Colorado’s example when it comes to legalization? Although this is a difficult question to answer, one need only look at the 1-year data issuing forth from Colorado to determine that marijuana legalization has been an all-around good idea for the state.