THE PEOPLE HAVE TOKEN: More Coloradans Voted To Legalize Marijuana Than Voted For The President

Just sayin’.

NPR: Parts of new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana will take effect early next month. The Obama administration needs to choose whether it will sue to stop the legislation or let those states go their own way — even though the drug remains illegal under federal law. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous. “Our voters want marijuana to be regulated, like alcohol,” Hickenlooper said at a recent news conference. “That’s what they clearly said.” Hickenlooper has talked with the U.S. attorney general, but he came away with little certainty about what the Justice Department will do. The same goes for Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, also a Democrat, who met with the deputy attorney general in the nation’s capital last week. Here’s the problem: A federal law called the Controlled Substances Act still ranks marijuana as a dangerous and addictive drug, in the same class as heroin. That old law is rubbing against a new coalition of voters, particularly in Western states. In fact, on Election Day, more voters in Colorado and Washington cast their ballots for marijuana legalization than for President Obama. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: In Colorado, weed is more popular than President Barack Obama. More people voted for Amendment 64 — which legalizes and regulates recreational use of marijuana — than voted for the president. As of Thursday morning, with 100 percent of precincts reporting their results, 1,291,771 votes in favor of Amendment 64 had been tallied. Obama received 1,238,490 votes, 53,281 fewer than the amendment. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: After Washington and Colorado passed measures legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, members of Congress are asking that the federal government respect state laws. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) were among the 18 members of Congress to sign a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart on Friday requesting that states be permitted to function as “laboratories of democracy.” An excerpt from the letter:

The people of Colorado and Washington have decided that marijuana ought to be regulated like alcohol, with strong and efficient regulation of production, retail sales and distribution, coupled with strict laws against underage use and driving while intoxicated. The voters chose to eliminate the illegal marijuana market controlled by cartels and criminals and recognized the disproportionate impact that marijuana has on minorities. These states have chosen to move from a drug policy that spends millions of dollars turning ordinary Americans into criminals toward one that will tightly regulate the use of marijuana while raising tax revenue to support cash-strapped state and local governments. We believe this approach embraces the goals of existing federal marijuana law: to stop international trafficking, deter domestic organized criminal organizations, stop violence associated with the drug trade and protect children.While we recognize that other states have chosen a different path, and further understand that the federal government has an important role to play in protecting against interstate shipments of marijuana leaving Colorado and Washington, we ask that your departments take no action against anyone who acts in compliance with the laws of Colorado, Washington and any other states that choose to regulate marijuana for medicinal or personal use. The voters of these states chose, by a substantial margin, to forge a new and effective policy with respect to marijuana. The tide of public opinion is changing both at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country. We believe that the collective judgment of voters and state lawmakers must be respected. MORE

A few days before last Tuesday’s election, New Approach Washington, the group pushing a ballot issue to legalize marijuana in the state, posted its final ad of the campaign. The spot featured a “Washington mom” — a woman in her mid-40s, sitting on her porch, flanked by pumpkins — who took the viewer through the assorted restrictions and benefits both minors and businesses would see once the measure, Initiative 502, was implemented: ID checks.Fewer profits for the cartels. Increased funds for schools. More time for police to “focus on violent crime instead.” In short, all of the top concerns that an average mom in the Evergreen State would seem to have about making pot legal. But New Approach’s ad was about more than just capturing the votes of a major demographic — the same one that helped reelect President Obama and the one that kept GOP Senate hopefuls Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin at bay. Legalization advocates have found that female support tends to be a leading indicator for marijuana measures. In the case of both California’s 2010 and Colorado’s 2006 votes, sagging support among women preceded a collapse in men’s support too. In California, for instance, support from women saw a 14-point swing against legalization over the final six weeks, dragging support from men under 50 percent. “Historically, as soon as women really start to create a [gender] gap, a marijuana measure gets killed,” says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “If women get weak-kneed, the men will start to drop.” Convincing women — mothers, especially — that legalization wasn’t simply about stoners and libertarians was essential to ending blanket prohibition. They needed to be assured this was sound policy and that their children would not be affected. MORE

TIME: Colorado’s law enforcers will have to make some choices: Do they try to interdict supplies from beyond Colorado even though its citizens are essentially requesting it? Or does Colorado allow farmers to grow it in the state — a cash crop if ever there was one. It would seem stupid for the state to sanction possession but not supply, since drug runners from Northern California to Mexico will be lining up to supply the Colorado market. That’s one reason the price of marijuana is likely to go down. Another is that as new retail entrants fight for market share, they will do so using price as a tool — unless the state sets and fixes the price, or arbitrarily limits the number of distributors, just as it does with, say, liquor stores. But Colorado allows beer sales in lots of places too. “Is it really like alcohol? In this state we have private liquor stores and beer in grocery stores,” says Clouse. “Does that mean you sell [marijuana] in grocery stores?” Hmm, the produce aisle? Next to the rosemary and basil? Again, if the number of authorized outlets isn’t sufficient for the market, the underground distribution network will expand to fill that demand. MORE

WASHINGTON MONTHLY: I dug through the internal documents that the government forced big tobacco to release and found evidence of the industry’s longstanding interest in selling pot. I gave one of the documents, a report commissioned in the 1970s by Brown and Williamson, to Mike Rosenwald of Washington Post, and here is how he wrote it up:

This is the dream tobacco companies have had since at least the 1970s, when consultants issued a secret report to Brown & Williamson touting a future product line in marijuana. “The use of marijuana today by 13 million Americans is socially the equivalent of the use of alcohol by some 100 million Americans,” said the report, found among millions of documents turned over to plaintiffs during the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s. “It is the recreational drug; the choice of a significant minority of the population. The trend in liberalization of drug laws reflects the overall change in our value system. It also has important implications for the tobacco industry in terms of an alternative product line.”

The tobacco companies, the report concluded, “have the land to grow it, the machines to roll it and package it, the distribution to market it. In fact, some firms have registered trademarks, which are taken directly from marijuana street jargon. These trade names are used currently on little-known legal products, but could be switched if and when marijuana is legalized. Estimates indicate that the market in legalized marijuana might be as high as $10 billion annually.

The report was a long time ago, and no doubt the industry has more modern ideas for selling marijuana today. Maybe that’s why, during the run up to the 2010 election in which marijuana legalization was on the ballot in California, Altria took control of the web domain names and For those not in the know, Altria is the parent company of Phillip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, Players, Benson & Hedges and many other popular brands of tobacco cigarettes. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: In the capital’s chic Georgetown neighborhood, where nearby university students beam messages to one another’s iFaces while buzzing to class on single-engine jet packs, people used to line up for cupcakes. A decade ago, people waited for hours outside Georgetown Cupcakes for $3-a-pop munchies tucked neatly into pink boxes. They especially craved the red velvets. The cupcake craze at 33rd and M streets NW gave way to a gourmet french fry joint called My Fry, where patrons selected “base” potatoes from around the world, then to Shake Rolls, a sushi-and-milkshakes bar where Sasha Obama celebrated her 16th birthday. All of them have gone off to fast-food heaven. Now for sale in the very same spot: pot. A high-end marijuana cafe called Hypothesis, launched by a California entrepreneur whose parents once tossed him out for toking up in his bedroom, has customers lining up for marijuana-infused teas, pot-laced cupcakes and cookies, and even hemp-fiber granola bars. There is takeout, too: ounce bags of marijuana from around the world, with strains named Northern Lights and Casino. These aren’t your father’s dime bags. Made to look like the old Ziplocs that one dipped into for pot (with a bag of Doritos nearby), these premium plastic bags close with real zippers. The company’s slogan is embossed in light green letters below the opening: “Beyond a joint.” If the store is reminiscent of Starbucks, that’s because Virginia branding consultants designed it that way. “We didn’t see any need to reinvent the wheel,” said Jeff Kronbon, Hypothesis’s owner. “This model has worked for decades. Now, we think it can work with pot.” MORE