(CNS): All eyes were on the results for the top of the ballot in Tuesday’s elections in the US, but in several states there were some significant developments in the campaign to legalise marijuana use much further down the ticket. Eight out of the nine states that had the issue on the ballot sheet voted for some form of legalised use. One of the most significant was in California, where voters have approved recreational marijuana use.
That votes is seen as a huge victory in the fight for legalisation, paving the way for the largest commercial ganja market in America. California’s Proposition 64 is described by stakeholders as the most important cannabis measure the US has seen and a potential international game-changer for policy in the country. California, which recently overtook the UK to have the fifth largest economy in the world, is expected to have a recreational marijuana market greater than Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska combined.
But the liberal Democratic state was not the only one to support change on the ganja front. Massachusetts voted for recreational pot, extending legalise use from coast to coast, while Maine also backed its full recreational use, sale, and consumption. In Arizona, however, voters rejected a move to legalize its recreational use, though it had already passed legislation in 2010 for medical use.
Florida voted to approve the use of medical Marijuana. North Dakota also approved medical use for a number of diseases, including cancer, Aids, epilepsy and hepatitis C.
Arkansas was the third state to pass a medical cannabis measure, which will allow patients with specific conditions to buy medicine from dispensaries licensed by the government. Montana supported an expansion of the number of patients medical marijuana suppliers can treat.
The increase in states with laws facilitating either recreational or medical use means that almost a quarter of Americans live in places where the drug is legalto soem degree. A recent Gallup poll in the US showed public support for legal ganja is now at 60 percent.
But marijuana remains a schedule one drug in federal law and its possession a criminal offence. And while President Barack Obama told Bill Mayer in an interview with the comedian last week that there is a need for “a more serious conversation about how we’re treating marijuana and our drug laws in general”, the result at the top of Wednesday ticket could still set things back.
Campaigners for legalised ganja believe that the federal government’s war on drugs won’t hold up in the face of increasing state laws facilitating recreational and medical use. But with Republicans taking control of the House and Senate as well as the White House, political support will be lacking.
President Elect Donald Trump has flip-flopped on marijuana but he has said he supports medical use, while suggesting individual states should decide on recreational use.