On January 1st, 2014, Colorado became the first place in the world to allow anyone over 21 to purchase marijuana legally for any purpose, i.e. recreational use.
Wait, wasn’t it already legal in Amsterdam? And what about Uruguay?
Not really, and not yet. Here are the details:
Details of how the rules work are here, but the bullet points are:
- Colorado residents can purchase up to 1 ounce at a time. Out of state residents can purchase 1/4 ounce.
- Bring cash, because most places can’t take credit cards, due to federal banking regulations.
- You can’t smoke it in public, or in your car. Take it home or on your property.
- Don’t take it across state lines. Cops in Wyoming, Nebraska, etc, won’t be lenient.
DO NOT BRING YOUR COLORADO PURCHASED MARIJUANA INTO WYOMING Cheyenne – The new law that went into effect… http://t.co/99cVjtq1WT
— Wyo Highway Patrol (@WYHighwayPatrol) January 2, 2014
Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana by ballot initiative in 2012, the same time as Colorado.
However, retain shops are still not up and running ,but are expected there later this year, possibly by the summer. There will be up to 334 licences retail stores statewide.
So, while it is legal to possess up to an ounce of weed, there is technically no place to legally purchase it in Washington state as yet. How can you have it without legally purchasing it? By everyone looking the other way, of course. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t get busted for selling it, you certainly can.
Recreational use of marijuana is currently not legal in California.
However, possession of under an ounce has been decriminalized, so that possession of under 1oz in an infraction, not a criminal charge. It is punishable by a $100 fine when enforced, with no court appearance or criminal record attached.
The laws for medical marijuana in California are considered relatively lax, so it is not difficult to get a doctor to recommend use for a wide variety of conditions.
Legalization won’t be on the ballot in California in 2014, but activists are aggressively targeting the 2016 election cycle. So you’ll have to wait a while to be free and clear in California if you aren’t a patient.
What about US Federal Law?
It is true that US Federal Law still considers marijuana an illegal and dangerous substance with no legitimate use. (Yes, that is plainly crazy.)
However, as of last summer, the Feds have pledged to back off prosecuting individuals for marijuana charges where the states have said that action is legal under the state laws.
What does the future hold? It’s not clear. There is no question that the current situation is untenable, and the conflict between State and Federal laws cannot stand indefinitely.
There has been a lot noise about the Justice department (which runs the DEA), and Congress doing something about this, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Some experts believe the Fed will have to relent, by 2017, if not sooner. But it is still possible they could reverse that stance, although that would be disastrous.
The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
However, the country has been recently cracking down on marijuana tourism, and many places may not sell to tourists now.
The south American country of Uruguay recently legalized marijuana. The law went into effect on April 9th, but laws allowing retail sales may not be fully implemented until next year.
Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001, but they are not strictly legal or available for legal purchase.
Shockingly, North Korea appears to tolerate marijuana sale. Is it strictly legal? Who knows. You probably wouldn’t have a problem, but who wants to risk ending up in the North Korean legal system.
So Colorado, really IS the first and only place right now where you can walk up to a counter, drop your cash on the table, and leave with a bag of weed – completely legally under all local laws.