Just because Congress ground to a virtual halt in 2016 doesn’t mean the country stopped making new laws. From taxes to minimum wage to gun control, a broad range of changes is coming at the state level as Americans ring in 2017. And, as has been the trend lately, the new year will bring far broader legalization of marijuana. It’s what The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence arguing against pot prohibitions, called an “unprecedented schism between state and federal law in regards to … cannabis statutes.” While that debate will play out anew as the Trump administration takes office with a law-and-order mandate, the “schism” grows wider in 2017. Already, revelers in Massachusetts and California will have the legal option of pairing their New Year’s Eve champagne with a joint. Approved by voters in November, legal recreational pot use took effect on Dec. 15 in Massachusetts; legal personal use of the drug took effect in California shortly after voters approved it there, though retail sales are still months away from implementation. Nevada legalized recreational pot on Jan. 1, and Maine will follow soon after. Voters in the last election approved legalizing the drug for medical purposes in North Dakota, Montana, Florida and Arkansas. In Colorado, one of the first states to legalize pot, licensed medical marijuana growers will now be allowed to sell pot as well. Colorado voters also backed an increase in the statewide minimum wage. Starting Jan. 1, the wage increased from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour for non-tipped workers and will increase by $0.90 per hour every year until it reaches $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020.
..which will be disastrous for those of us here in Colorado. All it means is that the cost of goods and services will go up for everyone; basic economics 101. Anyway, to read the rest of this article, and see what new state laws went into effect this new year, click on the text above.