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Washington Is First State to Allow Pot’s Recreational Use

Published: November 6, 2012
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Source: Bloomberg

Washington voters approved a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use, making it the first U.S. state to decriminalize the practice.

Initiative 502 was winning 55.5 percent to 44.5 percent, with half of the ballots counted, according to the Associated Press. The measure allows those at least 21 years old to buy as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana from a licensed retailer.

Washington was one of six states with marijuana on its ballot. Voters in Colorado and Oregon also are weighing ballot measures legalizing recreational use of pot. In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to legalize marijuana for medical use, which is already allowed in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Montana and Arkansas voters are also weighing measures dealing with the medical use of marijuana.

The Washington measure may generate as much as $1.9 billion in state revenue over five fiscal years, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management. Federal prosecutors last year cracked down on the industry in states including California, where clinic landlords were threatened with jail time if they didn’t evict the shops. California was the first state to allow medical-marijuana use when voters approved a 1996 ballot measure.

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