American Elections: How Did Cannabis Legalization Fare?

The big story of the American presidential elections 2016 undoubtedly is the shock win by a reality tv star and fake billionaire. Welcome to the 21st century with an extra round of weirdness. As the orange-skinned candidate never really was big on concrete proposals, many people do not know what to expect for the next four years. But luckily there was a silver, or one should say green, lining to the dark clouds.

Legal Cannabis Proposals

Every American election is characterized by a number of additional elections on the state and local level. This year voters could decide on a wide range of initiatives. The good news is that eight of nine proposals on the legalization of cannabis or medical use of marijuana have indeed been passed. The list is as follows:

  • California approved recreational use of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. This is perhaps the biggest win imaginable as the state becomes the largest potential market for weed in the United States. Recreational cannabis will have a 15 percent sales tax with an additional cultivation tax for cannabis growers.
  • Maine approved Question 1 on the ballot which calls for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis. Again use will be permitted for anyone over the age of 21.
  • Massachusetts also approved the recreational use of marijuana for anyone over 21 years (the same as alcohol.)
  • Nevada passed an initiative which allows anyone over 21 to possess an ounce (about 28 gram!) of cannabis. Here sales taxes will be geared towards helping fund the public education system.
  • Arkansas passed the Medical Marijuana Amendment for 17 conditions. It also creates a Medical Marijuana Commission to regulate the industry while tax revenue will for instance benefit schools.
  • Florida also passed a medical marijuana proposition. Florida’s Department of Health will regulate the cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis.
  • Montana has a Marijuana Act since 2011, but the passing of a new proposition will allow for the cultivation, dispensing and transportation of medical cannabis.
  • North Dakota passed its own Compassionate Care Act 2016 which will legalize medical marijuana.

Only the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative failed. The proposition would have allowed possession, consumption and cultivation of cannabis by adults.

Green Stars & Stripes


The Bigger Pictures

The United States started the War on Drugs, lost it in spectacular fashion and now has to initiate surrender. Obviously there is a long way to go. The legalization of cannabis should be an important first step towards a new way of implanting drug use in society. It also is uncertain how a Trump government with a new Attorney General and unwilling D.E.A. will deal with the new state-imposed legalization. Current president Obama recently was questioned by Bill Maher how tenable the federal position on cannabis is when a tipping point would be reached as happened on November 11. The president admitted this position cannot hold. Indeed the complete West Coast now has legalized cannabis creating a corridor from Mexico to Canada. Mexican authorities have stated that legalization in California would also be a game-changer for them. Slowly the domino’s start to fall. The rest of the world has to follow these steps as soon as possible.

Read more about The War on Drugs in our encyclopedia