Tuesday November 8, 2016 may have looked red to most Americans but for us at Legal Green Marketing, it was a remarkably Green Tuesday as eight out of nine states passed cannabis initiatives. California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all legalized adult cannabis use. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota have either legalized medical cannabis use or expanded their current program.
The result of Green Tuesday is that the number of states in which some form of cannabis use is legal has doubled. That’s a remarkable increase in just one day and hopefully a leap forward towards the end of federal prohibition.
California was a state whose ballot those of us in the cannabis industry watched carefully. In legalizing adult use, California has now granted 12 percent of the population of the United States access to legal cannabis for recreational purposes.
Massachusetts was the first East Coast state to legalize adult use and as such, was considered a litmus test for how future legalization ballots might fare in that part of the country. Maine also legalized adult use, but by the smallest of margins.
Nevada voted solidly in favor of legalizing adult use (54-46) and will likely benefit from the tax revenue and increased tourism this measure will likely bring to the state.
Only Arizona declined to pass their proposition, although the numbers were close and flipped back and forth all evening, before settling at 52 percent voting “no”. Undoubtedly this measure or one like it will be revisited in two years.
More surprising than the states who passed measured for adult use of cannabis are some of the states which legalized medical use. Arkansas, for example, is a beacon of hope for those activists in other Southern states who hope to pass similar measures. The bible belt is not known for it’s liberal policies so the victory was a narrow 53 percent voting “yes” but a history victory nonetheless.
Voters in Florida passed their medical cannabis amendment with an impressive and historic 71 percent in favor, which is the highest support rate yet for a cannabis measure in the United States. Industry experts predict a thriving medical cannabis culture given the the state’s large population, favorable climate and large elderly population, a group who benefit greatly from medicinal cannabis access.
North Dakota passed its first medical cannabis measure by an impressive margin of 62 percent of voter support. The measure will grant access to medicinal cannabis for a range of conditions.
Montana voted again in favor of medical marijuana, repealing the strident restrictions passed by state legislators and upheld by the Supreme Court. The people of Montana have spoken and dispensaries will soon be able to reopen and patients will again have access to Montana’s prosperous cannabis marketplace.
What does this mean for the future?
Following Green Tuesdays victories, somewhere between 25 and 30% of the United States now has legal access to some form of cannabis.
While it isn’t immediately clear how the election of Donald Trump will impact the legal cannabis industry in the future, there is hope. On the trail, he inferred he would allow each state to determine its own cannabis policies.
Until we know more, we can only hope that the progress that has been made so far, and it is impressive progress, continues at this pace. For those states who have not yet passed laws legalizing medicinal or adult cannabis use, the time is coming.
We break it down for you, state by state.
Newly Legalized Recreational States:
California already had some fairly progressive legalized marijuana laws but Proposition 64, which passed on Green Tuesday, takes those laws even further by regulating marijuana like alcohol.
Like alcohol, recreational use of marijuana is now legal for adults age 21 and older. Up to 8 grams of marijuana, growing up to six plants, and the industrial farming of hemp are now all legal.
The new law establishes a system for taxing and regulating the recreational marijuana industry and grants municipalities some control over licensing.
But what the law does best is create a system for lessening the sentences and/or expunging the marijuana conviction records of those already already in jail for lesser marijuana-related crimes.
Nevada legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and those who lives further than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary will be allowed to grow up to six plants.
Following in Colorado and other states footsteps, tax revenues from the newly legalized cannabis industry will help support K through 12 education.
Massachusetts also legalized up to an ounce of marijuana outside of ones home and the cultivation of as many as six marijuana plants.
Question 4 also created the new Cannabis Control Commission which will to responsible for taxing and regulating the cannabis industry.
In Maine, recreational cannabis is now legal for those residents who are 21 or older. Also legal is the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, marijuana social clubs and the cultivation of marijuana.
Marijuana is now an agricultural product and the cultivation, distribution, manufacturing and sale of marijuana is overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Conversation and Forestry.
Newly Legalized Medicinal States:
Amendment 2 permits a licensed Florida physician to write a prescription for those patients suffering from a debilitating medical condition. Medical care centers may also produce and distribute marijuana under the supervision of the Department of Health.
Issue 6 legalized the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by registered patients who are undergoing doctor-approved treatment at nonprofit compassion centers. This is a small step in the right direction.
Measure 5 grants legal possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana and those living more than 40 miles from a compassion center, the legal right for patients to grow up to 8 marijuana plants. Compassion centers will be responsible for the dispensation of medical marijuana and identification cards will be granted to registered patients.
Montana’s I-182 broadens the medical marijuana laws which have already passed. It removes the legislator passed laws which restricted medical access to marijuana, specifically a three patent limit for marijuana providers.
Freed from the restrictive influence of these laws, patients will be able to access medical marijuana for several crippling illnesses.