America Votes for Legalization of Cannabis

America is calling for legal weed

Here are the results to date of the 9 ballot initiatives on cannabis legalization in the U.S.:



California has voted to legalize recreational cannabis. Closely tracking poll predictions, the state’s voters passed Proposition 64 by a 56% majority.

It is now legal for adults to possess one ounce and to cultivate up to six plants at home for personal use

The move is undoubtedly a sea change in the public perception of cannabis in the U.S. — after all, California is the most populous state in the country, comprising about 12% of its total population. Proposition 64 was not without some surprising detractors, though. Dennis Peron, the activist who led the charge to legalize medical cannabis in California in 1996, has opposed Prop 64, citing concerns about the state-mandated regulations and taxes that will come with legal weed.

Although the text of Proposition 64 does not directly contradict or repeal any of the measures of 1996’s medical Proposition 215, it does place a cap on cultivation of six plants for personal, CALIFORNIA FLAGrecreational use. This six-plant limit is not part of Prop 215 — medical consumers are allowed to grow as much as they need — and the inconsistency between these two measures might mean that law enforcement will incorrectly and unjustly harass or penalize medical cannabis patients for violating a provision that doesn’t apply to them.


Of the nine states voting on cannabis legalization yesterday, Arizona was the only one to defeat that opportunity. Polls had been tight (although who could even imagine trusting polls anymore?), but

Residents voted against recreational legalization by a 52% majority.

The state, which elected Donald Trump last night by a four-point margin, had many detractors, including Governor Doug Doucey and opiate manufacturer Insys, which donated $500,000 to the anti-legalization group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. Medical cannabis remains legal in Arizona, although conservative state legislators severely rolled back provisions for legal medical cannabis shortly after its passage in 1997 (voters effectively restored those provisions in 2012). Yesterday’s defeat of Proposition 205 could embolden conservative Arizona lawmakers to target the legal states of medical cannabis yet again.


As of 2 PM EST on November 9th, Maine’s vote on Question 1 to legalize recreational cannabis is considered too close to call. The few polls conducted on the initiative indicated an average 52% majority vote in favor of legalization.MAINE FLAG Right now, with 96% of precincts reporting, a “yes” vote is leading by a very narrow 4,000 votes.  Although traditionally a democratic-leaning state in general elections, Maine is home to some conservative reactionary elements — like Governor Paul LePage, who, among several other revoltingly racist statements, has blamed people of color for Maine’s drug problem, despite the fact that, by LePage’s own tally, 60% of drug dealers arrested in Maine appear to be white. If Maine does indeed vote to legalize, it will join Massachussetts as the second East Coast state to do so for recreational purposes.


Despite warnings to the contrary by their governor and attorney general and the mayor of Boston, residents of Massachusetts have decisively voted to legalize recreational cannabis with 54% majority support. Starting December 15th,

It will be legal in the state to possess up to 10 ounces at home and up to one ounce in public, and to cultivate up to six plants per household

Until January, though, weed will exist in a legal grey area, as there will be no means of purchasing legal cannabis, and because it is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines. Massachusetts legalized medical cannabis in 2012.


Nevada voted “yes” on Question 2 by a 55% majority last, legalizing the purchase, possession, and consumption of up to one ounce of cannabis bud and up to one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis concentrate for people over 21.

The move may boost cannabis-inspired tourism to the state’s wavering industry in Las Vegas

shutterstock_261852536Nevada residents have twice voted to legalize medical cannabis: first in 1998 with overwhelming 59% support, and — because Nevada state law requires its constitutional amendments to be voted on and approved twice — again in 2000, with over 65% support.



Yesterday’s ballot in Arkansas included two cannabis legalization initiatives, although only one actually counted for anything. So-called Issue 7, which would have legalized cannabis for 56 varied medical conditions, including ADD/ADHD, anorexia and bulimia, insomnia, and generalized anxiety disorder, was nullified because 8,000 signatures on the ballot petition were found to be invalid; although Issue 7 remained on the ballot, votes were not counted. Issue 6, however, has been passed by a 53% majority. It will unfortunately benefit fewer patients, as it entails only 17 serious and terminal medical conditions.


The state that’s de-railed so many American elections in the last few decades got at least one thing right —

Florida voters chose to legalize medical cannabis by a resounding 71% majority, right on target with polls

The measureshutterstock_257502241-1 allows doctors to prescribe cannabis for patients suffering from any of 10 specificserious illnesses, as well as other comparably debilitating conditions. Florida had voted on a similar medical cannabis initiative in 2014, but failed to reach the states’ required 60% supermajority for passage of a new amendment.


In a pleasant upset, Montana has passed Medical Marijuana Initiative I-182 with a solid 57% majority. Although voters in the state had legalized medical cannabis back in 2004, their state legislature severely restricted this legalization in 2011, banning medical cannabis advertisements, requiring dispensaries to have no more than three patients, and mandating state review of any doctors who prescribe cannabis for more than 25 patients per year. Initiative 182 re-opens access to medical cannabis in the states by cancelling out the above provisions on advertising and patient limits;

It also adds PTSD as a qualifying condition

The passage of 182 is especially notable, given that the initiative’s opponents outspent its supporters by about $80 million.

North Dakota

Finally, North Dakota has also legalized medical cannabis. Voters approved StatutoryNorth Dakota Flag Measure 5 with a huge 63% majority. Residents with qualifying conditions will be able to obtain an ID card that allows them to buy up to 3 ounces at a medical dispensary, or to grow an unspecified amount at home. Measure 5 was brought forward by Ray Morgan, a Fargo man who was frustrated after the state legislature twice defeated bills that would have legalized medical cannabis. Good work, Ray.

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Vincent Ballantine
About Vincent Ballantine
Vincent Ballantine is a Brooklyn-based writer. A native New Yorker, he holds a degree in English from Georgetown University and has written on television, pop culture, travel, and health.