Former U.S. Attorney John McKay of Washington state is a leading supporter of Initiative 502, which would decriminalize and regulate recreational marijuana use by adults. “I know the federal government does not have a plan to eliminate this income stream to the drug cartels,” he tells Stateline.org. “The only thing I think will change [federal marijuana policy] is when states begin to revolt.” In November, Stateline says, that revolt could begin in Washington, Oregon, or Colorado, where voters will decide if they want to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana consumption and production. Any of these initiatives would put the states in conflict with federal law, which classifies marijuana as a controlled substance with no acceptable medical use.
All three states already allow medicinal marijuana use, which is also against federal law, but these initiatives would push even harder against federal restrictions by allowing recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over, allowing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and providing for the creation of a regulatory system which would authorize dealers and heavily tax marijuana sales. Polls suggest that the initiatives have a real chance of becoming law. Forty-nine percent of Colorado voters think marijuana should be legal, 50 percent of Washington voters want to legalize and regulate marijuana, and 43 percent of Oregon voters support legalization. The most recent national Gallup poll taken on marijuana said a record 50 percent of Americans said they back marijuana legalization.