On November 8th, 2016, nine U.S. states came together to vote on the future of cannabis for the election. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts all voted in favor of legalized use, sale, and consumption of recreational cannabis. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota all voted in favor of either allowing or updating current medicinal cannabis practices in their states. Arizona’s bill was the only one to fail this election round.
Below is a breakdown of each individual state’s next steps and impact on the future of cannabis legalization.
California’s bill legalizes recreational marijuana for persons over the age of 21. Since November 9, 2016, cannabis use is fully legal in California. There will be a $100 fine for smoking in public, and driving under the influence of cannabis remains illegal. California residents are allowed to grow up to six plants in their homes, and recreational sales from shops will become legal on January 1, 2018. Passed with 56% of votes in favor.
As of January 1, 2018, Nevada residents are legally allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis. Only licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are allowed to apply for licenses for recreational sales. Passed with 54% of votes in favor.
Maine’s legalization is in discussion right now with government officials requesting a recount of the votes. New regulations will take effect in 30 days after the Governor proclaims the official results of the election. Passed with 50.1% of votes in favor.
Massachusetts has voted to allow persons who over the age of 21 to grow up to six plants in their household. The new Cannabis Control Commission would regulate the law and issue licenses to those wishing to sell cannabis while charging the sales tax, and an additional 3.75% excise tax. Regulations will go into effect in Massachusetts by December 15, 2016. Passed with 53%.
Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment has passed, medical cannabis will become legal for 17 qualifying conditions and a Medicinal Marijuana Commission will be created to enforce regulations, and ensure tax revenue is being allocated to technical institutes, vocational schools, and the General Fund. Passed with 53% of votes in favor.
Florida has voted to allow patients to have access to medicinal marijuana. Passed with 71.1% of votes in favor.
Montana voted to support the repealing of the three-patient limit for medical cannabis providers. Currently, 3 patients are only allowed per dispensary in the state. Passed with 57% of votes in favor.
North Dakota’s measure passed, although it is important to make note that North Dakota already enforces some of the strictest cannabis laws in the country. Due to the passage of this measure, the Health Department has been granted permission to “perform on-site interviews of a qualified patient or primary caregiver to determine eligibility for the program,” by entering the premises with only 24 hours’ notice. Also, patients are allowed to grow up to eight plants if their residence is 40 miles away from nearest compassion center.
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