smoke marijuanaNow that marijuana has been officially legalized for adults both in Colorado and Washington State, I want everyone who plans to partake to understand that the whole world is watching.

What your states accomplished made headlines around the world. The policy experiment taking place in your two states will be closely monitored, both nationally and internationally. If legalization goes well in your states, that will serve as an example which other states and countries will follow in the near future. If this experiment goes poorly, it would not only hinder the broader reform movement, but also even risk reversing the gains made recently by increasing the chances of federal intervention, or even causing the state legislature to impose new restrictions.

All I’m asking is if you are an adult planning to smoke pot in Washington or Colorado for you to be conscientious, be safe and use common sense.

Be Conscientious – Even though most people don’t use marijuana, your neighbors and fellow citizens voted to allow you to without fear of prosecution. The best way to thank them is to be conscientious of the fact that most of your fellow citizens don’t smoke. Some people don’t like the smell, have health problems that can be irritated by any type of smoke, or don’t want their children to see marijuana being used. Just try to be respectful. Try to keep smoking private and away from people it might bother. Not only is it polite, but smoking in public is technically illegal.

Be safe – Don’t get high then drive or operate heavy machinery. It is not safe and it can result in a DUI arrest. Importantly, fears about a plague of “stoned drivers” is one of the most over-hyped arguments prohibitionists use to try to stop legalization efforts. If Colorado and Washington can prove that this concern is unfounded, it would be incredibly helpful for advancing the broader legalization movement.

Use common sense – Marijuana is still technically illegal under federal law. Before taking part, make sure you are not risking your job because federal rules about drug testing are still in place. While the federal government doesn’t have the resources to go after regular users, please don’t do something like bring an ounce into a secure federal courthouse. Remember also that in neighboring states marijuana possession is still considered a serious offense.

I’m convinced that legalizing marijuana is the best policy option for our society, but you have a chance to help prove it. The world is watching so show everyone that your fellow citizens made the right decision. Have fun but also be safe, smart and conscientious.

Photo by Torben Bjørn Hansen under Creative Commons license.