Colo., Wash. Voters Pass Marijuana Ballot Issues

Voters in Washington state and Colorado approved ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana use. In Colorado, the drug will be regulated like alcohol. Residents over 21 years old will be allowed up to an ounce of marijuana.

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Many Americans voted on issues as well as candidates yesterday. It was a historic night for supporters of same-sex marriage, and we'll have more on that in a moment.

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First, voters in two states, Washington and Colorado, approved ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana use.

As NPR's Jeff Brady reports from Colorado, it appears both states now plan to regulate marijuana more like alcohol.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: In Colorado, residents over 21 years old will be allowed up to an ounce of marijuana. Voters leaving polling places Tuesday gave two reasons for supporting the legalization of marijuana: They want to tax pot and they like using it.

DANTE NICHOLAIS: Well, I voted to keep smoking my weed.

(LAUGHTER)

BRADY: That's 32-year-old Dante Nicholais. Emory Love says she supported the amendment for the economic benefits.

EMORY LOVE: I did vote yes on that, mostly because I know how much of it is going to schools. And I think that if we tax it, it can help the economy.

BRADY: By January 2017, state lawmakers must develop a plan to tax marijuana.

Erica Russell voted against the amendment, in part because her daughter was injured by a drunk driver.

ERICA RUSSELL: We love the idea of the money going to the schools. But there's something bizarre about let's legalize a drug so our schools can be funded.

BRADY: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was among the state's political establishment opposing Amendment 64.

GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER: I think really it's something that should be done on the national level. It's just like Prohibition with alcohol - if you're going to repeal something, you can't repeal it bit by bit.

BRADY: Now comes the task of figuring out how to square Colorado's constitutional amendment with the federal prohibition on marijuana, which remains in place.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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