Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of federal law, reports Reuters. The votes set the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama administration. A ballot measure to remove criminal penalties for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was defeated in Oregon.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group that backed the initiatives, said the outcome in Washington and Colorado reflected growing national support for liberalized pot laws, citing a Gallup poll last year that found 50 percent of Americans favored making it legal, versus 46 opposed. The outcomes in Colorado and Washington, which already have laws on the books legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, put both states in further conflict with the federal government, which classifies cannabis as an illegal narcotic.