By Gregory B. Hladky
10:50 AM EST, November 7, 2012
There were big victories in this election for marijuana advocates, with Colorado and Washington voters approving recreational use of pot and Massachusetts signing on to legalization of medical marijuana.
But Oregonians voted down a plan to allow commercial growth and sale of pot to adults.
In Colorado, that state's Gov. John Hickenlooper - who opposed the legalization of pot - warned that "federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."
The Colorado ballot measure will permit people over 21 to legally possess up to an ounce of pot and to grow as many as six marijuana plants for their personal use. Public use of marijuana will continue to be banned in Colorado.
Washington's voters approved a plan to allow adults to legally possess small amounts of pot. Officials there still need to create regulations for state-licensed marijuana growers and distributors. Once the system is established, adults will be allowed to buy up to once ounce of pot from approved retail outlets.
The medical marijuana measure approved on the Massachusetts ballot will cancel all criminal and civil penalties for the use of pot by qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions such as AIDS, cancer and other major ailments.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana has already been decriminalized in Massachusetts, as it has been in Connecticut. Both this state and Rhode Island have already legalized medical marijuana.
The votes in Colorado and Washington is going to create serious headaches for the U.S. Justice Department, which has sought to crack down on recreational use of pot. Federal officials have so far dodged questions about how they will handle the marijuana programs to allow pot use in Colorado and Washington.
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