Suppose someday it is enacted a law saying something like "The use of chemical substances, natural or artificial, when used for recreational purposes, it is authorized" or "will not be criminally persecuted". Can such a law exist without the another law explicitly allowing the production of such chemical substances?

2 Answers 2


Yes it can. That already has been the case in Washington state.

I-502 (full text) made it legal to possess marijuana, but left the sale and manufacture of it illegal until a year later when the State Liquor board could establish appropriate licensing.

Initiative 502 legalizes the possession of marijuana and marijuana-enhanced produpcts and ultimately their manufacture and sale. As of Dec. 6, 2012, when I-502 becomes effective, persons 21 years of age or older will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use in private settings.

However, the State Liquor Control Board has until December 2013 to establish a licensing system for the manufacture and sale of marijuana; this system must be in place before people may legally manufacture and sell marijuana.

  • This has been the de facto policy in several EU countries (Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, for example). That said, and contrary to what's commonly reported in the media, the de jure policy of most EU countries is that possession is illegal.
    – yannis
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 5:23
  • It should be specified that Marijuana prohibition is still illegal federally, and that technically supersedes Washington's law, but not in practicality, because the federal government tends not to go after single possessors.
    – Publius
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 20:57

In addition to its applicability in regards to drugs, it should be understood that the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution worked in precisely this way. To with, the 18th prohibited:

the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States

Note what is missing - there was never a prohibition on the consumption of or use of alcohol. As such, technically it was completely legal to drink - just not to make, transport, or buy alcohol.

  • Is buying alcohol for personal use legal? Is possession legal?
    – user4951
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 12:49

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