By now the nation knows that Colorado voted yesterday to legalize recreational marijuana. Not by statute, as one might expect, but by constitutional amendment. Colorado is odd that way, sticking all sorts of stuff into its constitution when it ought to just be a new state statute. We became the “first” state to legalize weed only because we counted our votes before Washington state, which also legalized it.
I don’t happen to smoke pot. Never have. Didn’t even learn to recognize the smell until after I moved here. Such is the legacy of growing up in Oklahoma. And I was ambivalent about the proposed law. I can see a certain logic in legalizing the stuff. And Colorado’s law supposedly will give the resulting tax income to its schools. (“Drug money” to the schools. Hmm … )
Nevertheless, I’m not happy the law passed. I don’t want Colorado to be known as the first state to legalize pot, the place where you can vacation or live in order to have free access to pot. Nor do I want to be the state that people avoid because “that’s where all the pot-smoking hippies live.” I don’t want to be a magnet for drug sellers and users, and I’ve no doubt that legalizing it is equivalent to hanging a big neon sign on the state shouting “Get your marijuana right here!” like some costumed carnival barker. I just don’t want more of it around or, conversely, I don’t want to be around more of it. Nor do I want more of it around my grandkids. Besides, we’ve had enough problems with legal medical marijuana.
My primary objection, however, is that marijuana is illegal under federal law. How can one or two states declare it legal when federal law prohibits it? How does that work? Any lawyers out there want to explain this to me?