Just to be clear, the federal government doesn't sanction smoking weed ever, regardless of your health.
Yet, in 17 states and the District of Columbia residents can use marijuana if they can prove it's for medicinal purposes.
After Nov. 6, however, residents in three more states may not even need a doctor's note to legally smoke a doobie. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are defying the federal government and attempting to end pot prohibition altogether.
Washington's I-502 proposition is polling the best among the three pro-pot ballot initiatives. The measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession and would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of weed.
"It's not about getting high," says Alison Holcomb, the spokeswoman for Yes on I-502. "This is about laws that work better for our community."
Proponents say legalizing pot would free up cops and courts to focus on more serious crimes.
The measure is so popular with local law enforcement in Washington that Pete Holmes, the current Seattle city attorney sponsored the legislation and dozens of judges and lawmakers have endorsed it. And the pro marijuana groups have raised roughly $5.5 million for their campaign, out-raising the competition by nearly 1000-to-1. Holcomb says groups like Drug Policy Action and individual donors like Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, have helped the group gain fundraising momentum in the state.
But Steve Sarich, spokesman for the "no on I-502" campaign says the measure is the wrong path to legalization.
Sarich, who is a medical marijuana patient, says the measure discriminates against individuals who use the drug medicinally.
I-502 includes a provision to eradicate driving under the influence of THC, the active chemical in marijuana, which could keep patients from getting behind the wheel of a car.
Under I-502, drivers who have more than 5 nanograms of THC per millimeter of active blood in their system can be prosecuted.
"This is just a matter of picking us off," Sarich says. "Medical marijuana patients medicate every day, and they have to drive."
Sarich argues there is little scientific evidence showing THC affects a driver's ability to focus on the road.
"I am probably four times the legal limit right now, and I am not impaired," Sarich said over the phone.
A study by Canadian researchers earlier this year, however, showed people who smoke marijuana within three hours of driving were twice as likely to wind up in a car accident as someone who hadn't used. Even NORML, a pro-pot group, agreed that marijuana "mildly impairs psychomotor skills." NORML did clarify that the effects were less dangerous than driving drunk.
Sarich says the other big problem with I-502 is it ignores federal laws. Under federal law marijuana is classified as being just as dangerous as heroin with no exceptions for medical use.
Experts estimate if I-502 were adopted, Washingtonians would purchase 93.5 tons of marijuana every year, which could generate up to $60 million in revenue for the state.
"Federal authorities are not going to turn their head and look the other way," Sarich says.
Roger Sherman, the leader of Colorado's anti-pot group shares similar concerns.
While Colorado's ballot amendment 64 doesn't outlaw driving under the influence of too much THC, Sherman says Coloradans could still face federal penalties for a state-sanctioned activity.
"You can still be engaging in illegal activity no matter how amendment 64 turns out," Sherman says. "The federal law is not going to stand idly by."
Sam Kamin, a professor of law at the University of Denver, says it's unclear what the federal government might do.
Kamin says the federal government has turned a blind eye to most of the flourishing medical marijuana industries popping up in Californian and Colorado.
"People are openly advertising and it is not secret they sell marijuana. The feds know where it is and they are not prosecuting it."
Most of the dispensaries the federal government have shut down have been asked to move because they are too close to a school zone. But, Kamin admits recreational use is uncharted territory,
"It is always a possibility that this whole thing could come crashing down," Kamin says. "Every transaction in every one of these stores is a violation of the control substances act, and we really don't know what we would get with a Romney administration."
The Obama administration has been vocally opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. In 2010, when California tried to pass its own legalization effort, Attorney General Eric Holder publicly said he'd "vigorously enforce" the law, which prohibits the growth, distribution and use of marijuana.
But Holder has yet to speak out on the current marijuana legalization efforts, and Kamin says Obama's administration is likely to stay quiet until after the election.
"In a state like Colorado where Obama really needs the youth vote, cracking down on marijuana legalization doesn't seem to be in his political best interest," Kamin says.
Opponents to amendment 64 also argue that marijuana is bad for business.
"Every time there is a bust, a raid, every time the DOJ issues an opinion, the headline is Colorado," Sherman says. "It is like a bad rash that will never go away. We spent a lot of money trying to attract new business to the state, and this is not a selling point we can market," Sherman says.
But convincing constituents legalization is a bad idea in Colorado isn't cheap.
Colorado is a swing state and the cost of running a campaign here has skyrocketed. The anti-64 groups have raised $355,000 compared to the yes folks who have raised $1.8 million.
"The base of our campaign has been really grassroots, and we have been outspent 4-to-1," Sherman says. "This is not something that Coloradans have put on the ballot; this is something national groups have lobbied for."
Betty Aldworth, who leads the "yes on 64" campaign says that the campaign's raised money from both local and national fundraisers.
"We estimate that half a million Coloradans use every year, and we don't think those people should become criminals simply for choosing to use," Aldworth argues. "Coloradans have supported making marijuana legal for adults for years."
She notes making marijuana safe and legal could open up new revenue streams for the state.
"Colorado tourism continues to increase, and this might even draw more visitors here," Aldworth says.
The measure is leading with 51 percent of Coloradans supporting it, according to a recent Denver Post poll.
Oregon is the third state to push for legalization this election cycle, but efforts there do not look as promising.
Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML, says it is the least likely to pass because it is very broad, idealistic and just a bit too "pro pot."
The Oregon law doesn't designate how much an individual can possess or grow, and polling shows Oregonians will likely say no to measure 80.
A Survey USA polls out last week found 36 percent were behind legalizing marijuana, while 43 percent were against it.
And the Oregon law has not attracted the funding the other two initiatives have.
"They jumped in to the game a little late," St. Pierre explains.
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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.