Marijuana legalization is experiencing an extreme amount of momentum across the United States, as the movement for both recreational and medical usage has swept across the country. Currently, 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, have laws that legalize some form of marijuana use. Of these states, eight have laws legalize both medical and recreational usage, half of which were voted upon by referendum in the 2016 election.
Barring extreme federal actions, the widespread legalization of this multi-billion dollar industry will only continue to spread. To get an idea of what recreational legalization means in each state from this past election, here is a breakdown of the obstacles and forecasts from each state that legalized recreational marijuana…
California was a major marker in the movement to legalize recreational marijuana, and is seen as a turning point for those both for and against legalization. California has the largest state economy in the United States, and is home to over 12% of the country’s population, which overwhelming voted for recreational legalization. If the economic stimulus provided to California from recreational marijuana proves to be formidable, then it will be almost certainly impossible to prevent the eventual end of the federal prohibition of marijuana.
In the 2016 election, Nevada voted to approve the legalization of recreational marijuana by 54.4% to 45.5%. Before the election, the polls were a lot closer, with legalization only maintaining a lead of about 4%. Nevada was one of the most tightly contested states, with millions of dollars in advertising being spent by both sides. Indeed, casino owner Sheldon Adelson alone spent $3.3 million of his own money fighting marijuana legalization, which was over half a million dollars more than proponents of marijuana legalization spent.
Recreational marijuana legalization didn’t only have a landmark election in the west, but maintained a strong victory on the east coast, as well. Last election, Massachusetts voted by 53.7% to 46.34% for broad laws that legalize marijuana. However, government licensed retail stores will not be able to sell marijuana until July 1, 2018. Possession of marijuana, however, is already legal within the state.
Maine’s referendum to legalize recreational marijuana was a fight to the very end, and even warranted a recount in a vote that was only separated by 4,000 votes. Nonetheless, the referendum passed and Maine became the 8th state in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana.