Washington voters shocked the nation last month by voting for Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalizes the possession of up to one ounce (28g) of marijuana for personal use. Under the initiative, all penalties for marijuana possession and use have also been abolished.
A similar measure passed in Colorado will be implemented no later than January 6.
Although Washington's new law legalizes possession of up to an ounce for those over 21, selling marijuana remains illegal.
I-502 gives Washington a year to come up with a system of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores. It plans to tax every stage at 25 percent. Analysts say it could bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new tax revenue.
But I-502 also puts Washington at loggerheads with the federal government: Despite record levels of support for nationwide legalization, it is still illegal under federal law to carry or use any amount of marijuana.
Pot is considered a ‘Schedule I’ narcotic under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, putting it in the same category as heroin. This means federal agents can still arrest people for it, and it remains banned from federal properties, including military bases and national parks