Weed won the election. There were nine states with marijuana legalization measures on the ballot, and eight of them have effectively passed.
California, Massachusetts, and Nevada have officially legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana. And Maine, where results are still rolling in, is on track to do the same. Arizona's Prop 205, however, failed, even though the polls showed statewide support for the bill.
Meanwhile, medical marijuana passed in all four states where it was on the ballot: Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana. That means that more states have now legalized medical marijuana than banned it—a sign of progress for marijuana advocates, and the science behind the benefits of medical cannabis.
With more than a quarter of the country's population now living in adult use cannabis states, the market size for weed is expected to multiply big time. Cannabis retail sales from the states that passed initiatives last night could add another $7 to $8 billion in additional revenue.
In California alone, cannabis sales could hike to $3.6 billion by 2020. As the sixth largest economy in the world and home to 12 percent of the American population, California has always been a role model to the rest of the country, and even the world, when it comes to weed. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and its adult use legalization initiative was written to be the "gold standard" for other states, and even the federal government, looking to eventually legalize cannabis across the country.
California's Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or Proposition 64, legalizes cannabis possession of up to an ounce and six plants at home for adults over 21. The 15 percent cannabis real tax (and the cultivators' excise tax) revenue will be allocated to research, education, environmental cleanup and so on, while also implementing community assessment, monopoly offsets, and cleansing of marijuana convicts' criminal records.
Read more: California Votes on Proposition 64
Massachusetts and Nevada also allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of weed, while Maine's initiative would allow up to 2.5 ounces. Maine and Massachusetts' initiatives also allow adults to cultivate up to 12 plants at home. Maine would impose a ten percent tax on sales, Massachusetts a 3.75 percent excise tax and 6.25 percent sales tax, Nevada a 15 percent excise tax.
The medical marijuana initiatives in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana, as we reported earlier, allow a limited number of patients with severe and debilitating illnesses access to medical cannabis.
For Florida and Montana, this was their second go at medical marijuana. Florida's pre-existing medical law covered only a tiny fraction of terminally ill patients to consume cannabis in oil, pill, injection, or vaporized form. The state's CBD-only law left patients with cannabis possessing no more than .8 percent THC. In Montana, the new medical marijuana law lifts restrictions on how many patients to whom a doctor can recommend cannabis, and does away with the provision that law enforcement could conduct unannounced inspections on marijuana facilities.
Read more: Florida Votes on Amendment 2
With wins across the board, cannabis activists are hopeful this election could signal the beginning of the end of prohibition. As more states approve cannabis legislation, and more seats in Congress come to represent those states, the disparity in federal and statewide drug policy will become an increasingly untenable position to maintain.
"The American people have spoken and spoken clearly — they reject our nation's failed policy of prohibition and want to see a system of penalization and incarceration replaced with one of legalization and regulation," Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said in a statement.
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