6 Dec 2012

Washington first US state to legalise marijuana

10:01 pm on 6 December 2012

Possession of marijuana for personal use has become legal in the US state of Washington, a month after voters opted for decriminalisation.

Washington state has taken a pretty liberal approach to the drug - it's been legal for medical use since 1998. But the vote to legalise cannabis for recreational use has taken things a step further, the BBC reports.

With the passage of the new law in November this year, personal possession of an ounce (nearly 30g) is no longer a crime in this state for people aged over 21.

However, there are limitations: smoking in public is punishable by a fine - just as drinking alcohol is - and there is nowhere to legally buy marijuana for another year.

Any decision to crack down on states with liberal drug laws could affect Washington's plans to raise tax revenues from a licensed and controlled marijuana market.

The US federal administration still regards marijuana as an illegal drug.

It remains in the same category as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, and only Congress could change its designation.