Newly reformed
New pot law in Colorado is one of many 2014 advances

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LIT UP: A server behind an outdoor bar prepares marijuana for partygoers to smoke during a Prohibition ERA-themed New Year’s Eve party celebrating the start of retail pot sales at a bar in Denver Dec. 31. Colorado began marijuana retail sales on Jan. 1. -Photo: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis rang in the New Year with a ringing endorsement of his state’s rollout of retail marijuana and a promise to pursue a federal law allowing pot sales across the country.

“Today Colorado becomes the first state to implement comprehensive marijuana regulation,” said Polis, an out Democrat from Boulder. “By regulating marijuana like alcohol, Colorado voters hope to reduce crime and keep marijuana away from kids. I applaud Colorado’s efforts to implement the will of the voters and will continue my work to pass H.R. 44 to regulate marijuana like alcohol federally.”

Colorado voters approved a measure legalizing marijuana and allowing for retail sales in November 2012, as did voters in Washington. At 8 a.m., Jan. 1, three dozen state-licensed retail stores in Colorado opened to long lines of waiting cannabis customers.

Ezekiel Edwards of the American Civil Liberties Union’s criminal law reform project said Colorado was the first state to “implement a truly common-sense approach to marijuana. This change will bring both justice and savings. Colorado will save millions previously spent arresting and penalizing people who use marijuana and will instead generate millions of revenue through the taxation and regulation of its sales and possession.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis rang in the New Year with a ringing endorsement of his state’s rollout of retail marijuana and a promise to pursue a federal law allowing pot sales across the country.

“Today Colorado becomes the first state to implement comprehensive marijuana regulation,” said Polis, an out Democrat from Boulder. “By regulating marijuana like alcohol, Colorado voters hope to reduce crime and keep marijuana away from kids. I applaud Colorado’s efforts to implement the will of the voters and will continue my work to pass H.R. 44 to regulate marijuana like alcohol federally.”

Colorado voters approved a measure legalizing marijuana and allowing for retail sales in November 2012, as did voters in Washington. At 8 a.m., Jan. 1, three dozen state-licensed retail stores in Colorado opened to long lines of waiting cannabis customers.

Ezekiel Edwards of the American Civil Liberties Union’s criminal law reform project said Colorado was the first state to “implement a truly common-sense approach to marijuana. This change will bring both justice and savings. Colorado will save millions previously spent arresting and penalizing people who use marijuana and will instead generate millions of revenue through the taxation and regulation of its sales and possession.”

State officials estimate that weed taxes will generate $70 million a year.

“The era of marijuana prohibition is officially over in Colorado,” said Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project.

“It’s only a matter of time before lawmakers and voters in more states adopt similar laws regulating marijuana like alcohol,” he added. “The dominoes are falling.”

Retail sales are expected to begin later this year in Washington.

The Marijuana Policy Project is working with Polis at the federal level along with lawmakers and activists in as many as 13 states to enact legislation and pass voter initiatives legalizing recreational pot. Voters may decide the issue in 2014 in Alaska and in 2016 in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada and Maine, where voters in Portland have approved a largely symbolic recreational pot measure. Lobbying also is underway to pass bills in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Polls in those states show majority support for legalizing marijuana and a national poll by Gallup in October found about 58 percent of Americans support legalization.

“As a nation, we look back at alcohol prohibition and ask how we could have been so foolish,” Kampia said. “Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure.”

Wisconsin lawmakers have repeatedly refused to advance bills allowing the sale of even medical marijuana in the state.

New year, new laws

The New Year also brought the implementation of California’s landmark School Success and Opportunity Act, which ensures that transgender K–12 students have access to facilities and activities — such as bathrooms and sports teams — that respects their gender identity.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law last August and soon after right-wing groups — the same ones that pushed for the anti-gay Proposition 8 — launched a repeal effort. As WiG went to press, the state was reviewing petitions filed by Privacy for All Students, which wants to ask voters in November to repeal the law. The measure also is the target of a lawsuit.

Still, LGBT civil rights activists and allies hope to enact similar legislation in other states, as well as legislation modeled on California’s bill that bans so-called “ex-gay” therapy for minors.

Another measure that went into effect in California is intended to protect the children of celebrities from paparazzi. Those who take video or photographs of children without consent or in a harassing manner face a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Another new law will boost California’s minimum wage to $9 an hour in July and to $10 by 2016. Ohio’s minimum wage has gone from $7.85 to $7.95, Rhode Island’s and New York’s to $8, Connecticut’s to $8.70 and New Jersey’s to $8.25.

In Connecticut on Jan. 1, assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines that were not registered with the state became illegal contraband.

New immigration laws brought change in Nevada and Maryland, where people living in the United States without legal permission began applying for driver’s licenses and state ID cards.

Maine is now requiring health care providers to give patients pricelists for services and procedures, and Delaware is implementing a new law that limits patient copays for health care.

Delaware also has a new law prohibiting the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins.

Several states implemented new voting regulations, including reinstating the early voting opportunities that Gov. Rick Scott had worked to cut in Florida.

In Rhode Island, a new law bans prospective employers from inquiring about criminal histories on job applications.

In Illinois, a new law makes it illegal for anyone under 18 to use an indoor tanning bed, and another law provides for a $50 fine against anyone caught dropping a cigarette butt. The state’s measure legalizing same-sex marriage will not take effect until June 1, although some couples, with emergency orders from judges, already have wed.

The AP contributed to this report.

Comments 

0 1 Jonas 2014-01-24 08:47
And now Wisconsin has a legalization bill in play, introduced by Rep Sargent
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