This November, voters in three US states—Colorado, Washington, and Oregon—will be able to vote on ballot measures that would legalize marijuana, period.
Not just for medicinal purposes, but for recreational purposes, too.
At Rolling Stone, a smart blog post by Julian Brookes on what happens when the first state says "yes" to weed.
When that happens, expect one of two things – either: the federal government, in deference to democratic principles, will decline to enforce its ban on marijuana, creating space for the state to be a "laboratory of democracy," working out its new policy by trial and error, learning as it goes, creating a trove of hard-earned lessons to guide the states that (inevitably) will follow; or: the federal government will bide its time and then come down hard, busting growers and retailers, seizing land and property (or, just as effective, threatening to), going after banks that serve pot business, and doing whatever else it takes to shut down the state's legalization push.
True, the feds would be within their rights to crack down. A state can legalize all it wants, but – incredibly – happy-go-lucky marijuana will still be a Schedule I drug, right up there on the federal shit list with brain melters and organ fryers like Heroin, Cocaine, and PCP. And, no, this isn't some quaint, disregarded artifact from olden times: A personal stash can get you a year in federal prison, a single plant up to five.