Marijuana Legalization Passed in Colorado and Washington; Massachusetts OKs Medical Marijuana

Marijuana wasn't on the ballot again in Arizona this year, but historic elections concerning the intoxicating plant could affect how it's handled nationwide.

Colorado and Washington have become the first states in the country to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for any adult 21 or over.

Massachusetts became the 18th state, along with Washington D.C., to approve medical marijuana.

See Also: - Inside an Arizona Medical Marijuana Collective

Some pot measures fared poorly: A legalization bid in Oregon and a medical-marijuana question in Arkansas, were shot down.

But the victories in Colorado and Washington, combined with the win by President Obama, who has allowed the marijuana industry to flourish even as he directs federal troops to bust select dispensaries, Tuesday's election is poised to forever change the so-called War on Drugs.

The federal government will face more pressure to choose between tolerance for the wishes of state voters or taking some kind of action against legalization.

The Obama administration could tell the Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal police outfits to respect and follow state law. Congress could also take action to support, rather than slap down, the wishes of Colorado and Washington voters.

Republican Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and state Attorney General Tom Horne have argued in a closely watched lawsuit that medical-marijuana cannot be dispensed in Arizona because it's against federal law.

Their arguments will evaporate if pot is sold like booze in Colorado stores and the federal government does nothing.

And maybe Arizona voters will finally get what they voted for in 2010.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.