Election 2016: 4 new states legalize recreational cannabis

Steven Loeb · November 9, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4822

Only Arizona voted no, while North Dakota, Florida, Arkansas and Montana expanded medicinal use

While the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the Presidency certainly has many Democrats and Progressives all around the country feeling really blue today, the news last night was certainly not all bad for them.

In fact, there were a number of ways that the country actually moved forward, and which its citizens should be pretty happy about. That includes ballot measures for the legalization of cannabis.

Last night, five more states voted on whether or not to make cannabis fully legal for adult use, and four others voted on expanding medicinal cannabis use, bringing the total number of states allowing recreational use to eight, and those allowing medicinal cannabis to 29, plus Washington D.C.

Here is how the individual measures turned out:

  • Arizona

Arizona voted on Proposition 205, which called for legalizing possession and consumption of cannabis by adults age 21 and older. Medical cannabis has been legal in the state since 1996.

The measure called for establishing a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which would have been tasked with regulating the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of cannabis. It also called for fines for smoking or using in a public place, underage use, unauthorized production, and possession over legal limits. The maximum fine would be $300 and community service. 

Counties, cities, and towns would have been empowered to regulate and limit cannabis businesses. The measure was also designed to allow medical cannabis facilities to transition to recreational cannabis facilities.

The result: it was defeated, with 52.1 percent voting no, and 47.9 percent voting yes. 

  • California

California voted on Proposition 64, which called for legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and older for recreational purposes.

The Proposition called for creating two new taxes, one levied on cultivation and the other on retail price. Revenue from the taxes will be spent on drug research, treatment, and enforcement, health and safety grants addressing cannabis, youth programs, and preventing environmental damage resulting from illegal cannabis production.

Result: It passed, with 55.8 percent voting yes and 44.2 percent voting no

  • Maine

The state of Maine voted on the Maine Marijuana Legalization Measure, aka "Question 1," which would legalize cannabis for adult use.

The measure would allow individuals over the age of 21 to possess and use cannabis, and would also provide for the licensure of retail facilities and cannabis social clubs. Medicinal cannabis use has been legal in Maine since 1999.

The cannabis industry would be regulated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and the measure would allow municipalities to limit the operation of retail stores, while placing a 10 percent tax on cannabis sales.

Result: it passed, but just barely, with 50.2 percent voting yes and 49.8 percent voting no.

  • Massachusetts

Massachusetts voted on the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, aka "Question 4", which called for legalizing cannabis while regulating it in a manner similar to alcoholic beverages.

Under the measure, retail cannabis would have to pay a state sales tax, with an additional 3.75 percent excise tax. If it chooses, a local municipality may add another 2 percent tax on top of that. Revenue from excise taxes, license application fees, and fines for minor violations of this law would be placed in a Marijuana Regulation Fund, to help pay for administrative costs of the new law.

Result: it passed, with 53.6 percent voting yes, and 46.4 percent voting no.

  • Nevada

The state of Nevada voted on the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, aka  "Question 2," which called for legalizing the recreational use of one ounce or less of cannabis by adults 21 and over. Medical cannabis was legalized in Nevada in 2000.

The initiative created a new 15 percent excise tax, with revenue from the tax being spent on enforcing the measure and schools. It also authorized and regulated cannabis retail stores, cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and distributors. 

Result: it passed, with 54.5 percent voting yes, and 45.5 percent voting no.

Medical cannabis expands

In addition to making cannabis fully legal, a number of other states also voted on expanding medical cannabis use. That includes:

  • Arkansas

Arkansas voted on the Medical Marijuana Amendment, also known as "Issue 6,"  which called for legalizing medical cannabis.

The amendment would make cannabis legal for 17 conditions, create a medical work commission and allocate tax revenue to technical institutes, vocational schools, work force training and the state’s general fund.

Voters had previously defeated an initiative to legalize medical cannabis in 2012.

Result: it passed, with 53.2 percent voting yes, and 46.8 percent voting no.

  • Florida

Florida voted on the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as "Amendment 2," which called forexpanding the list of qualifying conditions patients require in order to be eligible for medicinal cannabis. 

It also allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of cannabis, and for the Department of Health to register and regulate centers that produce and distribute cannabis for medical purposes, along with identification cards to patients and caregivers.

Result: it passed by the largest margin of any ballot initiative, with 71.3 percent voting yes and 28.7 percent voting no.

  • Montana

Montana voted on the Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative, also known as "Initiative 182," which called for the repeal of the three-patient limit for medical cannabis providers. Medical cannabis was legalized in the state in 2004. 

The measure would allow physicians to prescribe cannabis for patients diagnosed with chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, and to stop law enforcement from being able to conduct unannounced inspections of medical cannabis facilities.

Facilities would be required to undergo annual inspections by the state.

Result: it passed, with 57.3 percent voting yes, and 42.7 percent voting no.

  • North Dakota

North Dakota voted on the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as,"Measure 5," which called for legalizing cannabis to treat some medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS and hepatitis C.

The measure would require patients and designated caregivers to apply for registry identification cards in order to participate in the medical cannabis compassionate care program. The patient application would have to include documentation, a written certification from the applicant's physician, and an application fee.

A similar measure failed to reach the ballot in 2012.

Result: it passed overwhelmingly, with 63.7 percent voting yes, and 36.3 percent voting no.

(Image source: salon.com)

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