The 2012 elections placed a number of marijuana initiatives before voters around the United States, ranging from efforts to legalize the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes to further expansion of the “medical marijuana” laws that currently exist in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Voters in Colorado and Washington passed initiatives directing their states to decriminalize the possession of marijuana by adults for recreational use. The new laws, which contemplate each state setting up a regulatory system to administer the sale and distribution of marijuana by the state in a manner similar to current state laws on the use and sale of alcohol, are unique in the nation and, according to news sources, broader than the laws permitting the purchase of small amounts of marijuana in Amsterdam. Oregon voters, in contrast, rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

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