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Biggest-Ever Election Day for Cannabis is Here

Vote Legalization Cannabis Now
Shepard Fairey art/Photo by Michael Pittman

Politics

Biggest-Ever Election Day for Cannabis is Here

Welcome to the biggest single day in America’s marijuana legalization movement.

Sure, it was a big deal 20 years ago when California voters put the first crack in Prohibition’s veneer by approving Prop. 215. And things no doubt started changing in a real fast hurry four years ago, when Colorado and Washington both legalized recreational cannabis for adults.

But if things go well today, those victories will seem like modest amuse-bouches compared to the coming feast.

Nine states have some measure of cannabis legalization on their ballots today, including five states where voters are considering legalizing recreational marijuana for adults.

Another four are considering medical marijuana and wouldn’t you know? All of them except for Florida are red states and Florida is at best a deep ruby purple.

Voters in California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will consider legalizing small amounts of cannabis and personal cultivation for adults. And Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana all have medical marijuana measures before voters.

Two of the legalization measures California and Massachusetts enjoy close to 60 percent support, according to recent polling. The other three are iffier, but still entirely possible, with polling at a dead 50-50.

On the medical side, things look the best in Florida, where an impressive 71 percent of voters tell pollsters they’re ready to try giving sick people access to the plant. (Which is good, considering the measure, an amendment to the state constitution, needs 60 percent to pass.)

Here’s a brief rundown of the what and how in each state.

California

The silver tuna, the golden calf, the biggest prize of them all the nation’s most populous state, the worldwide economic powerhouse, the place where it all began can finish what it started with Prop. 215 by approving Prop. 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivate six plants in their homes. Retail sales would be regulated and taxed by the state, subject to local approval and the state’s existing medical marijuana industry would be largely untouched, save for a 15 percent cannabis tax levied on all sales (though patients with a state-issued card would get a break from state sales tax).

Arizona

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s Proposition 205 would also allow the magic ounce and six plants for adults 21 and over with a 15 percent retail tax. Polls are very close to the 50-50 mark, making this red state the toughest call out west.

Nevada

Sin City seems poised to narrowly add cannabis to its menu of earthly delights, with support for Nevada’s Question 2 hovering at around 47 percent for to 43 percent against and this despite colossal spending from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson trying to upend it. (Dude even bought himself a newspaper to agitate against legal weed.) Here, only people living 25 miles or more away from a dispensary would be granted the privilege of home grow. But since this is a place where some folks drive 25 miles to get the mail, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Massachusetts

If New England starts going legal, it’ll start in Massachusetts. Question 4 on the state ballot would allow the same ounce and six plants for adults 21 and over, who could start patronizing retail cannabis shops in 2018. Recent polls showed support of more than 60 percent.

Maine

The land of lobster would be a huge victory for the marijuana movement thanks mostly to one Trump supporter: Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who has chosen to oppose legalization here by slinging lies like the idea that legalization could be “deadly” for Maine. What could be deadly is the race to the finish here, with polling evenly split for and against.

Montana

Wait, doesn’t Montana already have medical cannabis? Sort of, but what the voters giveth themselves, their elected officials hath taken away. I-182 restores the medical marijuana program approved by voters in 2004 but largely dismantled by lawmakers in 2011.

Florida

The land of hanging chads, hurricanes, and your retired grandparents is a natural next step for medical marijuana. There are a lot of old people here, and what do you know older folks like weed. We know at least 58 percent of Floridians are down, as that’s the number who approved medical cannabis in 2014. But you need 60 percent to change the constitution in this state, so here we are again and it’ll be so worth it to have dispensaries and medical recommendations enshrined in the state’s highest (ahem) document.

North Dakota

The home of the nation’s harshest anti-cannabis laws is proposing a very strict medical marijuana measure. But it’s better than nothing… which is what both sides have to play with here. There’s no polling data available, and the pro-side has less than $6,000 in campaign funds. Guess everyone is busy at Standing Rock.

Arkansas

Four years after rejecting medical cannabis by a 44 percent for to 56 percent against margin, Arkansas is back at it again. This time, Issue 6 would allow access to cannabis but no home grow. That’s good, as home grow polled poorly, but dispensary-only access is barely treading water at 50-50.

Are you in a state that is voting for cannabis today?

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