UPDATE: She has won every state where marijuana legalization or other drug policy reform was on the ballot.
Between the presidential elections, gubernatorial races, and voting competitions, there are many key decisions to be made in this year’s election. Among these, voters in five states have the chance to do so Legalize marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.
In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters could legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Mississippi and South Dakota (in a separate electoral initiative from full legalization) voters could also legalize medical marijuana.
If all of these measures were approved, the United States would move from 11 states where marijuana is legal to 15. In terms of population, that would mean more than a third of Americans would live in a state with legalized marijuana, up from more than a quarter today.
The election initiatives represent a massive shift in drug policy. A decade ago, zero states had legalized marijuana. Then, in 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational use and sale – and many others followed.
Despite the success of government measures, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. But since the Obama administration, the federal government has generally taken a hands-off approach to states’ marijuana initiatives. Hurdles still exist – banking is a challenge for federally prohibited marijuana companies – but the federal government has largely not interfered with state law since 2013.
This policy could reflect a change in public opinion: Opinion polls show that even a majority of Republicans, who tend to hold more anti-marijuana views than their Democratic and independent counterparts, support legalization.
With that in mind, proponents of legalization are optimistic about their prospects this year, even in historically red states like Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota. If all of these measures are successful, the US will have taken a huge step forward both in reversing its drug war and in undoing some of the damage it has done to the color communities.
Below are this year’s marijuana voting questions as well as live results provided by our friends at the decision desk.
Arizona Proposition 207
UPDATE: Arizona has approved Prop 207, which legalizes marijuana in the state.
A yes vote to Proposition 207 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, and allow individuals to grow up to six cannabis plants. It would create a framework for legal sales that would be subject to 16 percent sales tax. Finally, it would allow individuals with a history of marijuana-related to file a request for deletion.
A no means recreational marijuana will remain illegal, even though it is already legal for medical purposes in Arizona.
UPDATE: Montana approved the I-190 and legalized marijuana in the state.
A yes vote on Legislative Measure I-190 would allow its possession and use by adults 21 and older, allowing them to grow up to four marijuana plants and four seedlings for personal use. It would create a legal framework for the sale, along with a 20 percent tax. It would allow people with a history of marijuana to file a request for deletion.
A no means recreational marijuana will remain illegal, even though it is already legal for medical purposes in Montana.
New Jersey Public Question 1
UPDATE: New Jersey voted yes to Public Question 1. Read more about the results here.
A yes vote would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over, and mandate the state cannabis regulatory commission to regulate its sale.
A no means recreational marijuana will remain illegal, even though it’s already legal for medical purposes in New Jersey.
South Dakota Amendment A and Action Initiated Dec.
UPDATE: South Dakota has approved both Amendment A and Action 26, which makes both recreational and medical marijuana legal in the state.
A yes vote to Amendment A would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. It would allow individuals to grow up to three cannabis plants if they lived in a jurisdiction with no licensed marijuana retailers. It would also allow distribution and sales with a 15 percent tax.
A no means marijuana would remain illegal in the state.
A yes vote on the initiated measure 26 would create a medical marijuana program for people with debilitating diseases. Patients could own up to three ounces of marijuana and grow three or more plants, depending on what a doctor recommends.
A no would mean that medical marijuana would not be allowed in the state.
Mississippi Election Action 1
UPDATE: Mississippi has approved both parts of Election 1, which legalizes medical marijuana in the state.
Elective measure 1 is divided into two measures.
A yes vote for Initiative 65 would allow those with qualifying conditions to own up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, which is taxed at 7 percent. The Mississippi Department of Health would be tasked with setting regulations for distribution.
A yes vote for Initiative 65A would give those who are terminally ill access to marijuana and empower lawmakers to refine the details set out in Initiative 65.
A vote for neither means that medical marijuana will not be made available.
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