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Along with a new president, Americans in eight states voted for the passage of recreational or medicinal marijuana. Before the election, recreational pot was legal for 5 percent of the population, but that number jumped to 20 percent post-election.
Among the states with marijuana reform laws on the ballot, only Arizona voters rejected legalization.
What States Passed Marijuana Reform Measures on November 8?
- California, the first state in the country to allow medicinal marijuana in 1996, voted to legalize the sale and consumption of recreational pot
- Massachusetts’ voters passed recreational use, though narrowly with 46 percent of its citizens voting against legalization
- Nevadans passed recreational use, though like California, the sale of non-medical marijuana doesn’t go into effect until 2018
- Maine followed suit, with legalization going into effect at some point next year
- Montana loosened restrictions on existing medicinal marijuana laws
- Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota all approved marijuana use for medicinal purposes
“Marijuana reform won big across America on election day,” said Ethan Nadlemann, executive director the Drug Policy Alliance in a statement. “Indeed it’s safe to say that no other reform was approved by so many citizens on so many ballots this year.”
Passage in California, the country’s most populated state, is seen by many as significant.
What’s Next For Marijuana Legalization?
In a recent interview, President Obama suggested that as more states approve cannabis measures, the federal government’s position on pot, which it classifies as a Schedule I narcotic, could become “untenable.”
Yet, it’s unclear what stance President-Elect Trump and his administration will take on the matter. Though legalization has crossed party lines to some degree, conservatives have historically opposed it.
Organized opposition groups, like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), have successfully blocked cannabis legislation in the past. However, as public sentiment on the issue turned, many were unable to raise enough money to mount large campaigns.
“Despite having gained considerable ground in the last few weeks,” Kevin Sabet, a representative of SAM, said in a statement, “the out-of-state interests determined to make money from legalization put in too much money to overcome.”
What Will Happen to the Illegal Trade of Marijuana?
As states have eased marijuana restrictions and enforcement, experts suggest that black market pot sales have decreased.
InSight Crime, a foundation that monitors organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, reports that south of the U.S. border, cartels are growing less marijuana, but have increased opium production by as much as 40 percent.
Much of the heroin fueling the opioid crisis here in the states comes from Mexico.
A total of 26 states and the District of Columbia now have some form legal marijuana laws, eight of these allowing for recreational use.
Laws differ from state to state, but it’s important to remember that because of federal law, it’s still illegal to transport pot across state lines.
Only time will tell whether or not the new administration will buck the current trend.
Regardless, Americans continue to prove they feel strongly about making the country “greener.”
Image courtesy of Business Insider.