“If society deems 18 years old the age of ‘consent,’ fine. If society wants to stick with 21 years of age, that’s fine with us too.”
Washington and Colorado voters cast their ballots to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last November — crushing the pot hating opposition with a double digit margin of victory for both CO and WA. Yet, as most of the pro pot people celebrated their victory – the 18 to 21 year-Old’s who stepped up and cast their ballot for marijuana legalization have been left behind, still shackled with oppressive criminal sanctions for the consumption of pot.
The pro pot organizations which lead the popular legalization efforts stated that MJ activists themselves created the age limit. Additionally both spokespeople for two of the nation’s largest marijuana reform organizations stated they’re not interested in doing anything that might lower the acceptable age limit for recreational pot smoking.
“It is still illegal for people under 21 to possess any amount of marijuana, and the penalties will be no different than they were before the initiative passed,” noted Mason Tvert, the ex-co-director for the campaign in favor of Amendment 64, the Colorado pot-legalization initiative.
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Tvert, who now acts as the spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said it made sense to cap the pot-use age at 21 since Colorado doesn’t allow anyone younger than that to consume alcohol, another “intoxicant.”
The MPP (Marijuana Policy Project), a group that helped to finance Colorado’s Amendment 64, “will not be working to lower the age limit in Colorado or any other state that passes similar legislation including a 21 age limit,” Tvert noted.
As well, the executive director of NORML – Allen St. Pierre explained that “NORML assists the victims of cannabis prohibition” and represents “the interests and concerns of the tens of millions of Americans who responsibly consume cannabis.” As far as St. Pierre is concerned, the ongoing exclusion for 18- to 21-year- isn’t a primary concern for NORML.
“NORML’s board of directors supports legal access to marijuana to be similar to that of alcohol,” said St. Pierre in an E-mail. “If society deems 18 years old the age of ‘consent,’ fine. If society wants to stick with 21 years of age, that’s fine with us too.”
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Alison Holcomb, director of the successful Washington state legalization campaign, told U.S. News that in her state, as in Colorado, there were no changes to punitive laws against marijuana possession by those younger than 21.
“For now we can begin with a standard that is familiar to voters,” Holcomb said. “Perhaps in the future, penalties will be reserved for people who provide dangerous substances to more vulnerable users rather than the users themselves.”
Marijuana activist and attorney Douglas Hiatt told U.S. News that he opposed Initiative 502—the successful Washington legalization measure—because “it didn’t get rid of prohibition.”
“Looks like kids are starting to get targeted for driving and they’re still being cited for marijuana,” observed Hiatt. “I fail to understand that you can buy a gun, join the military, get a gun and kill someone and you can’t buy a marijuana cigarette. It’s ridiculous.”
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The Colorado and Washington initiatives “duplicated the problem with alcohol” on college campuses, Hiatt said, and “in Washington they made it particularly bad by criminalizing DWI for any detectable amount of marijuana” in an 18- to 21-year-old driver’s blood, a measurement that may or may not prove impairment.
Hiatt said MPP and NORML are “becoming the new establishment, they’re becoming conservative, and they think these pyrrhic victories are actually going to get us somewhere.”
Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy—a group with chapters on college campuses nationwide—told U.S. News that the age restriction “comes up for us on a regular basis because the majority of our constituency is people between the ages of 18 and 21.”
Source – U.S. News