Friday, October 31, 2014

Washington voters legalized recreational pot use on Tuesday, but people shouldn't expect to see marijuana legitimately for sale anytime soon.

Initiative 502 would create a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults over 21 can buy up to an ounce. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.  A related measure also passed in Colorado, while another marijuana legalization initiative in Oregon was defeated.

In Washington the sales won't start until state officials make rules to govern the legal weed industry, a process that could take a year.

And when state and federal laws conflict, federal law takes precedence. Federal authorities could sue in an attempt to block I-502 from taking effect. The Justice Department has given no hints about its plans.

State financial experts estimate it could raise nearly $2 billion in tax revenue over the next five years, with the money going toward education, health care, substance abuse prevention and basic government services.

Initiative 502 found strong support among liberals and moderates, Democrats and those with more than a high school degree. Independents and women were split on the issue, as were suburbanites. I-502 fared well in King County and the Puget Sound area, but not in Eastern Washington, Southwest Washington or on the Olympic Peninsula.

Opposition came from voters 65 and older, conservatives, Republicans and those with a high school degree or less. Weekly churchgoers rejected the measure, while those who said they never attend religious services or considered themselves occasional churchgoers favored legalizing pot.

The initiative led among voters with family incomes of $100,000 or more, but was about even in lower income groups. (AP)

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