Tuesday November 6, 2012 is a day that will always be remembered by cannabis activists nationwide. It’s the day that Washington State and Colorado voters voted to legalize cannabis. I will never forget when it happened. I cannot believe that it has already been five years. I was at an election watch party with a bunch of other activists in Portland, Oregon. Oregon had a legalization measure on the ballot that unfortunately fell short, but the initiatives in Colorado and Washington succeeded.
Everyone at the viewing party was taking dabs, smoking flower, and chatting among themselves while Jay and I were huddled around our laptops hitting refresh on the voting results. As the numbers in Colorado kept showing the a steady lead I looked at Jay and remember saying, ‘holy sh#t, Colorado is going to do it!’ I had an article pre-loaded into the platform I was using at the time and the second victory was officially declared by Colorado election officials I hit publish and screamed to people around me that Colorado had officially become the first state to legalize cannabis in America.
I could tell some people were skeptical, not because they necessarily didn’t believe me, but because they didn’t seem to want to get their own hopes up. ‘Is it really, really official?’ people kept asking me. ‘Yes, look for yourselves!’ I would reply, smiling from ear to ear. I will always remember Lee Berger, a long time cannabis activist, coming over to our table and asking if it was indeed true. He looked at my laptop screen, smiled, and gave Jay and emphatic high-fives. It was a truly remarkable moment that I will always cherish.
Washington State was soon to follow, become the second state in America to legalize cannabis (or tied for first depending on how you look at it). Of course, other successful legalization initiatives would follow, including Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. in 2014, and California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts in 2016. More states are on their way hopefully in 2018, and then onward to more states in 2019-2020. Eventually we will see legalization become a reality at the federal level, or at least a removal of federal prohibition as Congressman Earl Blumenaur puts it.
Some day in the not-so-distant future cannabis will be legal in more places than it is not. People will look back at prohibition and wonder why it took so long to free a plant that is safer than alcohol. History books will show that it all started in Colorado and Washington State and spread from there. Everyone at the time wondered which state had the better model, which I think clearly Colorado has been proven to have the better of the two. Washington State still does not allow home cultivation, and medical has taken a massive hit, but hopefully that is fixed in the near future. For today, freedom fighters across the country will be celebrating the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition, with specific celebrations taking place in Colorado and Washington State tonight. Happy five year cannabis legalization anniversary Colorado and Washington!