Ten years ago, while reporting for a book about cannabis, we decided to fly out to Seattle, Washington to spend election night with the state’s legalization campaign. The polls showed that both Washington and Colorado voters were likely to say “Yes” to the adult use legalization questions on their ballots, and we wanted to bear witness. (Not to mention that the event could make a great introductory chapter to the book.)
Back then, it was impossible to imagine where the country would stand today. Washington and Colorado were the first jurisdictions in the world–the whole world–to imagine a framework that would bring cannabis above ground and tax and regulate it. To make it so that a consumer could walk into a store to purchase cannabis that had been tested and labeled, and to ask questions if needed, such as where the product came from.
Now this kind of framework exists in nineteen states. And next week, voters in another five states will decide whether to legalize cannabis for adults. Meanwhile cannabis is legal for adults in Canada, and in Uruguay. Lawmakers in Germany are working on a plan, too. And, members of Congress in the U.S. have recently begun to propose not just whether to legalize, but how to regulate cannabis once it’s federally legal.
November 6 will mark ten years exactly from that election night in Seattle. To truly appreciate how far cannabis has come, it helps to take a moment to reflect on a bit of history, and to take stock of some of the outcomes. So, we asked the leaders of the Colorado and Washington campaigns about lessons learned and hopes for the future; we compiled data on common areas of concern, like youth use; and we excerpted the introduction of our book, A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition, which was published in 2014 by The New Press, so that you can relive November 6, 2012, in Denver and Seattle, too.
– Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian, co-founders and editors of Cannabis Wire
Read an excerpt from the introduction to A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition.
Here’s what Cannabis Wire learned from the first architects of legal cannabis.
At the ballot box in 2012, voters in these two states made history by legalizing cannabis for adult use. From taxes to youth use to arrests, what do the data show?