Depending on when you read this, we may or may not know who the president of the United States currently is, but while we’ve been waiting to see which colour those swing states are going to turn, five more states have gone green. In fact, every single cannabis-related ballot measure received a ‘yes’ vote on election night, which is great news for residents of South Dakota, Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and Mississippi.
Perhaps the most remarkable gain on election night was in South Dakota, where voters opted to transform their state’s staunchly prohibitionist approach by legalising both medical and recreational marijuana. This is the first time that any state has ever approved both of these at the same time, with all others having taken a step-by-step route to full legalization.
In Arizona, meanwhile, voters gave their approval to Proposition 2017, which allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, while also providing a legal framework for people with prior marijuana convictions to have their records wiped clean. A similar ballot measure was defeated by a whisker in 2016, but a steady increase in support for cannabis since then saw this year’s proposal over the line.
In Montana, voters were asked to decide on two separate measures, both of which had to receive a ‘yes’ vote for recreational marijuana to become legal. The first of these set out the rules by which cannabis would be governed, including a 20 percent tax, while the second simply asked if voters were in favour of adults over the age of 21 being allowed to buy, sell and consume pot.
Next up is New Jersey, where the electorate gave its approval to the addition of a new amendment to the state’s constitution that allows the non-medical use of cannabis by anyone over the age of 21. The recreational market will now be overseen by the same bodies that previously regulated the state’s medical cannabis programme.
Finally, Mississippians were given three choices regarding the possibility of allowing medical marijuana in their state for the first time. The first of these, known as Initiative 65, would make medical marijuana available to people suffering from any of 22 qualifying conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. Initiative 65A, meanwhile, would only allow those with terminal illnesses to access medical cannabis. The third choice was to reject medical marijuana altogether, although a massive 75 percent of voters opted for the expanded access offered by Initiative 65.
Prior to this election, recreational cannabis was already legal in eleven states and the District of Columbia, while many more offer medical cannabis. With the five ballot measured that passed on election night, a significant proportion of the US population now has access to some form of legal marijuana.
It’s also worth mentioning that the state of Oregon voted to decriminalise all hard drugs, offering treatment programmes rather than prison sentences to those caught with substances like cocaine and heroin. Meanwhile, the nation’s capital, Washington DC, voted to decriminalise psychedelics – which means whoever wins the presidential race can have one hell of a party in the White House.