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Marijuana Legalization: BC Effects Of Washington Vote

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Washington state's narrow approval by voters to legalize the recreational adult use of marijuana is breathing new life into a B.C.-based movement to decriminalize the drug.

Longtime pro-pot campaigner Dana Larsen is "ecstatic" at Tuesday's result and says the state's decision to legalize recreational use of marijuana could convince British Columbians to support something similar in their own province, Metro News Vancouver reported.

Adults in the state aged 21 and over will soon be able to buy up to an ounce of dried pot, a pound of the drug in solid form such as brownies or 72 ounces of liquids containing marijuana.

The initiative passed with 55 per cent of the vote. It's expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and reduce small pot-related arrests.

Larsen leads Sensible BC, which is pushing for a provincial referendum on a law to stop police from making "searches, seizures or arrests in cases of simple cannabis possession."

Larsen has to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in every B.C. electoral riding in 90 days in order to trigger a referendum, similar to former premier Bill Vander Zalm's successful campaign for a vote on the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in 2011.

Sensible BC's website said its campaign will start in September 2013.

Rob Gordon, director of Simon Fraser University's School of Criminology, said Washington's pot legalization could spur a "serious consideration" of decriminalization in B.C., though he also predicts a "partial collapse" of B.C.'s estimated $7-billion industry, the Surrey-North Delta Leader reported.

Gordon also pointed out that Washington could face a lengthy battle with the federal government.

Washington's Initiative 502 sets up a system of licensed marijuana growers, retailers and processors, and also calls for a 25 per cent tax on the drug at each stage of its processing until it is sold in stores, The Associated Press reported.

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