From Brexit to Trump, 2016 has been an interesting year for politics. From global warming, to reproductive rights, to the possibility of the President-Elect building a wall (maybe more of a fence) and footing Mexico with the bill, our country is divided. Though the polls were also split in some states pending marijuana legalization, many states have moved forward with the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use.
In the 2016 election, eight states changed their policies for marijuana use: California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use and North Dakota, Florida, Montana, and Arkansas have loosened restrictions on medical marijuana.
Legalization for Adult Use: What Happened
California: California’s 55 electoral votes didn’t put Hillary in the White House, but they did vote for legal weed for recreational use as of January 2018. With a 56 to 44 percent vote, the Adults Use of Marijuana act passed, allowing adults to grow and possess personal quantities of cannabis. The state could make up to one billion dollars from tax revenue and save about $100 million in law enforcement costs.
Maine: In an extremely close vote, Maine also legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults, implementing similar regulations to those of alcoholic beverages. With only a few thousand votes swaying in favor of legalization, the bill was approved with 50.3 percent of the vote.
Massachusetts: Massachusetts will be the second state on the East Coast to have legal marijuana for recreational use. Adults in Massachusetts will be able to legally possess and grow small quantities of marijuana. Commercial marijuana sales will be taxed ten percent. This law is set to be in place by December 15, 2016 and regulations for marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be implemented in August 2017.
Nevada: Although Las Vegas has a certain reputation pertaining to inebriating substances, a lot of rural Nevada has resisted moving forward with marijuana legalization for recreational use. Slightly more than half of the population voted for legal recreational cannabis at a 54.5 percent vote claiming the majority.
Arizona: Arizona voted for Trump-and against legal cannabis. The state proposed Proposition 205 under The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. This bill hoped to permit adults over 21 to grow up to six plants and possess up to one ounce of flower or five ounces of concentrates. This bill also sought to license commercial cannabis production and sales at retail stores. This bill was rejected, 52 percent to 48 percent.
These new bills bring the total number of states with legal marijuana for recreational use up to eight: Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, (District of Colombia although not a state) and now Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California.
Legalization for Medical Use: What happened
While recreational legalization was not on the bill for these four states, Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota all voted to approve marijuana for medical use in some capacity.
Arkansas: This deep red state opted for medical marijuana in 2016. Arkansas voted with 53.2 percent majority to permit patients with physician’s permission to possess and obtain cannabis for medical purposes. Common applications include relief from nausea and appetite loss, reduction of muscle spasms, and alleviating chronic pain. This law will go into effect on November 9, 2017.
Florida: Florida kept voters on the edge of their seats for their vote in the presidential election, but their vote for legalization of medical marijuana had no such suspense. In the most favorable vote across all states in question, 71.3 percent of Florida voted to pass Amendment 2 on their ballot, Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions. Conditions defined as debilitating include cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, epilepsy, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and other comparable medical conditions. Patients must have permission from their physician and cannabis must be provided by state licensed dispensaries. The law will not permit growth of cannabis in people’s homes.
Montana: Though medical marijuana was previously legal in specific cases, ballot number I-182 was put in place to broaden the state’s laws pertaining to cannabis for medicinal purposes. This bill won with a 56.3 percent majority. I-182 will give patients better access to medical marijuana, eliminate unnecessary barriers to obtaining necessary treatment including excessive cost, and allow lab testing to improve medical marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain and illness. This law will go into effect on June 30, 2017.
North Dakota: The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act 2016 was approved in a 63.8 to 32.6 vote. This measure will allow qualified patients who have approval from a physician to possess and obtain marijuana provided by licensed state dispensaries. Patients who live 40 miles or more from a licensed distribution facility are permitted to grow up to eight flowering plants at their residence. This bill will go into effect December 8, 2016.
These bills being passed means the majority of the USA, now 26 states and the District of Columbia, has laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity.
Featured photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
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