New marijuana laws pose conflict in US
Last week, many Americans went to their local precinct to cast a ballot for who they thought could better run the country for the next four years.
However, many other critical elections took place last Tuesday, with two states, Washington and Colorado, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for the first time in history.
Similar to alcohol, only citizens 21 or older can purchase marijuana as part of these new laws. Those who choose to purchase the newly legalized narcotic only are allowed to personally possess an ounce of marijuana. Cannabis would be sold and taxed at state-licensed stores. Both laws prohibit public use, but Colorado’s law allows citizens to grow their own marijuana plants, unlike the Washington law that still outlaws a grow-your-own marijuana method.
But as Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper said after the new laws’ passage, “… Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
Marijuana still is considered illegal by federal law, and although many states such as Michigan have passed legislation allowing marijuana to be used for medical use, the Obama administration, with the help of the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, still has cracked down on dispensaries and greenhouses that provide marijuana for medicinal purposes. Both states now are unsure how to implement these new laws without federal interference.
Omari Sankofa II
The Justice Department, so far, has not discussed how these new laws will function under federal law.
Although Colorado and Washington are states within the United States, they still should be treated as sovereign territories by the government when dealing with marijuana legalization. The federal government should respect the wishes of the majority of the population of Washington and Colorado and allow them to legalize recreational use of this product without penalty.
Michigan has legalized marijuana for medical use, allowing thousands of citizens to gain the medical benefits provided by the plant. Although it is not yet legal for recreational use, many cities, including Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ypsilanti, recently have decriminalized marijuana.
Although the laws differ among these cities, the Detroit law, which was passed by voters through a ballot proposal last Tuesday, alters an older city ordinance to exempt adults 21 and older from being prosecuted for the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana on private property.
The city of Detroit, especially, needed to clear up the number of violations it saw weekly in court, allowing judges to deal with more pressing charges than marijuana possession, and this amendment will help keep clear thousands of potential adults from going to prison for possessing small amounts of cannabis in their homes.
But these laws, much like the laws in Washington and Colorado, still conflict with federal law, leaving many in Detroit and other cities that have decriminalized possession wondering how the policy can be implemented.
Michigan, much like the federal government, should respect the laws these cities have passed and allow marijuana to be decriminalized within city borders.