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Super “bowls”

The National Football League championship game between teams from the two states most known for legalizing recreational marijuana ñ Colorado and Washington ñ set the Internet ablaze with pot-related jokes leading up to the Feb. 2 Super Bowl.The implementation of Amendment 64, which legalized certain recreational uses of cannabis in Colorado, has shifted the political spotlight away from medical marijuana dispensaries toward outright legalization. National efforts to expand medical and recreational use continue to oppose local efforts to reduce access.Twenty-six states have laws decriminalizing possession or allowing registered medical marijuana use. This includes Colorado and Washington, which are the only two states formally legalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational uses.Several of the states that already have decriminalization regulations are expected to have 2014 ballot measures to further decrease regulations, including the California Hemp Act and Alaska’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana. Supporters in the states with upcoming votes point to Colorado and Washington’s recent elections as examples of how legalization could happen.Legalization of recreational use will help encourage the remaining states to allow medical use, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. ìWhat better serves the patient,î St. Pierre asked: ìAccess under prohibition or access outside of it? It’s no doubt that patients will be better off without the other prohibitions. We’ve been supporting patientsí efforts for legal access since 1972.îEducational efforts, research and a changing political climate have encouraged more people to consider cannabis for medicinal use, St. Pierre said. ìThere are five disease types that even our opponents don’t argue against any more: glaucoma, AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy,î he said. ìHowever, the data is pretty clear that there are millions more patients registered in the U.S. who use it for chronic pain.ìMore doctors are definitely willing to sign medical marijuana cards, as they get more educated and feel less of a professional threat. St. Pierre cited the 2000 California appellate court case Conant v. McCaffrey, which ruled that patients and doctors can have private conversations that result in marijuana use without the doctor being held liable for any criminal activity. ìCurrent attorney general Eric Holder was the lawyer under the Clinton administration that had to argue all those cases,î St. Pierre said. ìPart of the reason we have medical marijuana in this country today is Holder managed to lose so often.îOpposition in El Paso County against medical and recreational use has focused on increased potency, public health expenses and concerns of businesses about workforce. ìWhat profession out there wants people to work with them when they’re feeling at one with the furniture?î said Amy Lathen, El Paso County commissioner in the December 2013 issue of The New Falcon Herald. During the same interview, Lathen described the cannabis available in dispensaries as ìnot your father’s pot, it’s much more potent than the old stuff in the 60s.î ìIf that statement about potency is true, it’s a function and result of that prohibition she advocates,î St. Pierre said. ìIt’s silly that someone would lead with that as an argument. If it’s legal, then government can set different tax levels for potency just like beer versus distilled spirits. That’s how we alter use of things like that in this country ñ we set varying tax rates.îIn El Paso County, the current issue being debated is the distribution of the taxes set by Amendment 64 and Proposition AA. The Department of Revenue scheduled an April hearing with cities and counties to discuss how revenue from taxes generated by counties participating in recreational marijuana sales will be distributed among the counties like El Paso, which voted against allowing recreational sales.Meanwhile, back to the ìbowl:î Doobie-loving football fans from Colorado and Washington planning to attend the Super Bowl this year will have to leave their own bowls behind.

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