Ballot initiatives to legalize the medicinal or recreational use of marijuana passed Tuesday in at least six states, as the U.S. has now started to liberalize pot laws in traditionally conservative regions like the South and Upper Midwest.
Voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and likely Maine, voted to permit the drug’s recreational use for consumers over the age of 21. Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota passed medicinal measures, with Montanans approving a question of whether to ease restrictions on what conditions marijuana may be prescribed for in their state.
Despite the positive election results for marijuana advocates, the election of Donald Trump as president puts state legalization efforts in danger. Two of the New York businessman’s potential U.S. attorney generals, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, are former federal prosecutors that have unfavorable views on legalizing drugs.
Executive director at pro-legalization group Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, said he is encouraged by Tuesday’s marijuana initiative results, but is concerned about how the Trump administration will handle states that pass laws which contradict federal statutes.
“This represents a monumental victory for the marijuana reform movement,” he said. “With California’s leadership now, the end of marijuana prohibition nationally, and even internationally, is fast approaching.”
However, Nadelmann cautioned that “there are various ways in which a hostile White House could trip things up.”
With the overwhelming passage of Amendment 2, Florida becomes the first state in the South to legalize pot for medical use, allowing it to be prescribed if “a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
All three of the recreational provisions passed Tuesday stipulate regulating the sale of the drug and an excise tax, and limits the use of marijuana mainly to private property.
Both California and Nevada will allow individuals to carry up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, with the former also allowing state residents to grow up to six plants in their homes.
Twenty-eight states have now passed medical marijuana laws, but restrictions on how and for what purposes the drug is prescribed varies widely. Recreational pot will now be legal in seven states and the District of Columbia.
Arizona was the only state that rejected a marijuana proposal on Tuesday, as Proposition 205 for the “private use” of pot was defeated with 52 percent of residents voting ‘No’.
While the U.S. is now a patch work of different laws that deal with the popular drug, the latest Gallup poll shows 60 percent of Americans support marijuana being legalized.
[Washington Post] [AP via Fox 5 WNYW]