Recreational and Medical Cannabis Legalised in Several US States

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Alongside the presidential election, residents of nine US states have voted on the future of their cannabis laws. The results of these ballot initiatives may have historic consequences as, last week, President Obama said that the continued federal prohibition of cannabis "is not going to be tenable" if the cannabis ballot initiatives pass.

Legally regulated markets for recreational cannabis have already been approved in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and possession is legal in Washington DC. Additionally, medical cannabis is legal in 25 states and Washington DC.

 

What’s happened?

Recreational Cannabis:

·         Arizona [REJECTED]

·         California [APPROVED]

·         Maine [APPROVED]

·         Massachusetts [APPROVED]

·         Nevada [APPROVED]

Medical Cannabis:

·         Arkansas [APPROVED]

·         Florida [APPROVED]

·         Montana [APPROVED]

·         North Dakota [APPROVED]

 

State-by-state

ARIZONA: Recreational Cannabis

Arizonans have voted against Proposition 205, which would have allowed adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and grow up to six plants in their home.

Results indicate that 47.9 per cent voted in favour of Proposition 205, and 52.1 per cent voted against it.

Arizona has been known for its especially harsh cannabis laws. According to the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), possession for personal use is a felony, and is punishable by a minimum sentence of four months imprisonment. In 2014, six per cent of all arrests in Arizona were for cannabis possession.

Among its stipulations, Proposition 205 specified that public cannabis smoking would remain prohibited, cannabis stores would be forbidden to open near schools, and acquired sales tax revenue would be allocated to education and “substance abuse” programmes.

 

ARKANSAS: Medical Cannabis

Arkansans have voted in favour of Issue 6 which will allow seriously ill patients to obtain medical-grade cannabis from licensed dispensaries.

Results indicate that 53.2 per cent voted in favour of Issue 6, and 46.8 per cent voted against it.

 

CALIFORNIA: Recreational Cannabis

California has legalised recreational cannabis!

Californians have voted in favour of Proposition 64 which will allow adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and grow up to six plants in their home.

Results indicate that 55.8 per cent voted in favour of Proposition 64, and 44.2 per cent voted against it.

With a population of almost 39 million, California is set to become the largest jurisdiction in the world in which recreational cannabis is legal.

The initiative will undo some of the damage wrought by cannabis prohibition; it will authorise the "resentencing and destruction of records" for prior cannabis convictions.

California has been known for its relatively progressive approach to cannabis, as in 1996 it became the first US state to establish a medical cannabis programme.

 

FLORIDA: Medical Cannabis

Floridians have voted in favour of Amendment 2 which will allow people with serious illnesses to access medical cannabis.

Results indicate that 71 per cent voted in favour of Amendment 2, and 28.9 per cent voted against it. Florida is the only US state in which any ballot initiative needs 60 per cent of public support to be passed.

Among those who will soon be able to access medical cannabis, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, are “individuals with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, [or] multiple sclerosis”.

 

MAINE: Recreational Cannabis

Maine has legalised recreational cannabis!

Mainers voted in favour of Question 1, which would allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and grow up to six flowering plants in their home.

Results indicate that 50.2 per cent voted in favour of Question 1, and 49.8 per cent voted against it.

Prospective retail cannabis stores will soon be able to apply for licenses, and a 10 per cent tax rate will be imposed on all cannabis sales. The revenue will be allocated to the implementation and enforcement of an extensive list of strict regulations.

 

MASSACHUSETTS: Recreational Cannabis

Massachusetts has legalised recreational cannabis!

Massachusetts residents have voted in favour of Question 4, which will allow adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and grow up to six plants in their home.

Results indicate that 53.6 per cent voted in favour of Question 4, and 46.4 per cent voted against it.

A Cannabis Control Commission will be created to oversee adherence to cannabis legislation, including the provision of retail licenses, health and safety standards, and accurate labelling of products.

State excise tax from cannabis sales will be deposited in a Marijuana Regulation Fund, which will be established to manage the administration costs of cannabis regulation.

 

MONTANA: Medical Cannabis

Montanans have voted in favour of] Initiative 182 which will allow people with serious illnesses to access medical cannabis.

Results indicate that 56.9 per cent voted in favour of Initiative 182, and 43.1 per cent voted against it.

Montana actually legalised medical cannabis in 2004, but the state legislature introduced highly restrictive legislation in 2011. These restrictions, the Drug Policy Alliance claims, has made the medical cannabis programme “practically unworkable”.

 

NEVADA: Recreational Cannabis

Nevada has legalised recreational cannabis!

Nevadans have voted in favour of Question 2 ,which will allow adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis. Individuals who live more than 25 miles from a cannabis dispensary will be able to grow up to six plants in their home.

Results indicate that 54.5 per cent voted in favour of Question 2, and 45.5 per cent voted against it.

The state will impose a 15 per cent excise tax on all sales, allocating revenue to the administrative costs of implementing legalisation, and all excess revenue to children's education.

 

NORTH DAKOTA: Medical Cannabis

North Dakotans have voted in favour of Measure 5, which will allow people with debilitation health conditions to access medical cannabis.

Results suggest that almost two thirds of North Dakotans voted in favour of Measure 5.

Patients will be able to possess up to three ounces of cannabis, and patients living more than 40 miles from a dispensary will be permitted to grow up to eight plants in their home.

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