Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC vote for cannabis legalisation

A big step forward for the cannabis legalisation movement: in Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. voters recently expressed their support for recreational use of cannabis!

In both Oregon (54%) and Alaska (52%) a majority of the votes was cast in favour of legalisation. In Oregon adults over the age of 21 are allowed to possess 1 ounce (about 28 gram) in public and 8 ounces at home from 1 July 2015. Furthermore, residents are allowed to have a maximum of 4 plants per household.

In Alaska it becomes legal to possess and transport 1 ounce of marijuana and to grow and transport a maximum of 6 plants at one time. Both states strive to set up a legal framework to regulate sales during the coming year. From January 2016 on it should be possible to buy recreational cannabis in special stores in both states.

The story is different for Washington D.C.: 69% of the voters expressed their support for legalisation, a large majority you would say. Though as D.C. is not a state but a district (and the nation’s capital) the Congress has major influence and is still able to overrule the results. It’s unclear how the majority of Republicans will respond. Furthermore, in contrast to Oregon and Alaska, the regulated sale of marijuana was not debated: in Washington D.C. the referendum was only about personal possession and cultivation of marijuana.

Only in Florida the legalisation movement experienced a backlash. Though 58% of the people voted for legalisation, in this state actually 60% was needed to change the law.

Colorado and Washington (state) already regulated recreational marijuana before, which makes 4 states in total where you can legally buy, smoke and possess weed for both recreational and medical use. In another 19 states only medical use of marijuana is allowed.

In these states, like for example California, you have to get a doctor’s prescription in order to get a medical cannabis ID-card with which you can buy marijuana at a local dispensary. The dispensaries do not only sell ordinary flowers, but also concentrates and edibles in all varieties. A THC-level of 17% is considered ‘midrange’ and especially the concentrates may contain much higher levels.

The strange thing about the USA is that marijuana is still completely illegal by federal law. Similar to the Dutch situation where cannabis also is officially illegal, the federal authorities tolerate its (medical) use on state level.

So far Uruguay is the only country world-wide where marijuana is fully legalised. But maybe the developments in the United States will cause a chain-reaction. Take for example Jamaica, the birthplace of Rastafari, where weed up till this day is illegal. Earlier initiatives to legalise have failed because the United States threatened with economic sanctions. This threat no longer holds in the new situation and Jamaica is currently developing a law that decriminalises medical and religious use of marijuana. It’s expected it will pass at the end of 2014.

-Map of legal marijuana in the USA

-Medical marijuana rules per state