Yesterday, over 100 million American voters went to the polls to cast their vote to decide on a new president and state propositions. Nine states had some form of cannabis legalization on their ballots, and the results prove that Americans want to experience legal cannabis from coast to coast.
2016 Recreational Cannabis Laws
California: Prop 64 – Passed with 56% approval
Massachusetts: Question 4 – Passed with 54% approval
Nevada: Question 2 – Passed with 54% approval
Maine: Question 1 – 50% of voters approve with only 3732 more Yes votes and 96% of precincts reporting
Arizona: Prop 205 – Did not pass with only 48% approval
2016 Medical Cannabis Laws
Florida: Amendment 2 – Passed with 71% of approval
North Dakota: Measure 5 – Passed with 64% approval
Arkansas: Issue 6 – Passed with 53% approval
Montana: Initiative 182 – Passed with 57% approval
What the Results Mean for Cannabis
Prior to election day, polls showed that every state with cannabis on the ballot was leaning in favor of the new laws.
Of the states voting on recreational cannabis, Arizona was the only one (so far) to deny their proposed law. This is not actually a big surprise for those in the cannabis industry, as Arizona’s voter demographic has historically leaned toward conservative values.
Arizona was also the state with the lowest chance of winning from prior polls, with only 50% of polled respondents saying they would likely vote in favor of cannabis. After nearly 2 million Arizona voters weighed in, it took a swing of only 80,000 to keep recreational cannabis illegal in the state.
The states approving medical cannabis are also of great importance. Florida, which as a state has been campaigning for legal access to medical cannabis, saw voters approve a landslide victory for that safe access initiative. North Dakota and Arkansas, two conservative-leaning states, also passed medical cannabis laws with substantial support.
Montana, which already had a medical cannabis program, saw voters approve of revisions that bring the state up to par with more inclusive cannabis programs across the country. Montana legalized medical marijuana in 2004, and in 2011 introduced a regressive bill that limited commercial viability of medical dispensaries, and capped the ability for doctors to recommend medical cannabis to more than 25 patients.
This backward legislation is known as Senate Bill 423, which after years of legal battles, finally went into effect on August 31st, 2016. Thankfully, just two months after the state instituted SB 423, there is a voter-approved solution already in play. The two months in which SB 423 was implemented saw a drastic drop in the number of medical marijuana patients comfortable registering in Montana.
The New Era for Cannabis
Medical cannabis has been making huge strides in America for the last two decades since California passed Prop 215 in 1996. The addition of many conservative states with implemented medical cannabis laws is incredibly encouraging for the future of cannabis.
Along with the 42 states (and Washington D.C) that now have medical cannabis laws on the books, there are now eight states (and Washington D.C.) that have recreational cannabis laws in place. The combined population of these states is over 67 million, of which nearly 39 million reside in California.
The political future of America is currently up in the air, but it appears that cannabis for both medical and recreational use is in the certain future for these United States.
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