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Public warned after Colorado legalizes recreational marijuana

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On Tuesday, Colorado voters approved the state's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. Although the state governor was opposed to the measure, he pledged follow-through.

DENVER, CO (Catholic Online) - The Amendment is conspicuous because it legalizes the drug for recreational use, not medicinal. Several states have already legalized what they call medical marijuana, which has been shown to have some benefit to individuals with specific conditions. 


Recreational use is a different matter. The law will allow adults, 21 and over, to possess and consume up to an ounce of the drug. Authorities say using the drug in public remains banned and individuals can grow up to six plants in a private, secure area. 

However, Governor Hickenlooper dampened the enthusiasm with a reminder. "Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or Gold Fish too quickly," he said. 

The legalization will probably put the state at odds with the U.S. Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency, who will continue to prosecute criminals caught with the drugs. Attorney General Eric Holder has long promised to "vigorously enforce" federal prohibition. 

Colorado is hoping to both save and make money on the Amendment. In addition to saving money by decriminalizing the drug, the state hopes to generate revenues by regulating it. Forecasts predict the state could see between $5 million and $22 million per year on the regulated sale of marijuana. 

The legalization of the drug makes a test-case of Colorado, which will show whether the claims of marijuana advocates bear fruit by reducing crime and increasing state revenues, or if the opposite happens. 

Regardless of financial considerations, marijuana is still a psychoactive drug and its effects on people are intoxicating. These effects, considered by many the primary reason to use the drug, cannot provide extensive health benefits that outweigh the harms of consumption to recreational users. 

State authorities say it could be up to a year before the law takes full effect.

All of this goes without saying that a significant moral issue remains, despite state legalization. 


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