Both laws will legalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana for individuals 21 and older, and set up mechanisms for regulation of marijuana similar to alcohol.
However, the drug remains federally illegal, leaving feds unsure what to do about the legalization in these two states. "I really don't know what we're going to do," said one high-ranking law enforcement official involved in the decision who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Meanwhile, both states are working on rolling out plans and new laws following this milestone decision.
According to NORML, Washington State will have regulations for marijuana retails outlets drafted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, a process which is expected to last about a year. Laws regarding posession will go into effect much sooner. New regulation states that any person over the age of 21 is legally allowed to possess up to 1oz (28 grams) of dried marijuana, 16oz (453 grams) of marijuana solids (edibles), and 72oz (~2kg) of cannabis infused liquids (think oils and lotions). It is also no longer a crime to possess marijuana paraphernalia.
The vote in Colorado is awaiting final certification, a process that is expected to take about a month. After this approval, it will immediately become legal in Colorado for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce (28 grams) of cannabis and for them to grow up to 6 plants in a secure indoor space.
The state is required to adopt a legal framework for retail sales by July of 2013, the first marijuana retail outlets could potentially open as early as the start of 2014.
It can only be hoped for that more states and other countries will follow this important move. We'll keep you in the loop about updates following this news.