The real winner of the 2016 elections: Weed
Voters in five states where medical marijuana is already legal—California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine—will be deciding whether to legalize it for recreational use. Voters in Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida will be considering legalizing medical cannabis.
All laws apply only to adults over the age of 21.
Name: Proposition 205
Considering it’s a red state dominated by conservative stalwarts like John McCain and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona has a surprisingly robust medical marijuana program. In the four years since the first dispensary opened, the state has racked up 100,000 patients. But Arizonans remain ambivalent on the rec weed debate, and Prop 205 has already faced a flurry of lawsuits. The vote’s looking like a nail-biter: polls show half of Arizona residents support legalization.
The state that started the medical marijuana trend in 1996 is finally due to hop on the rec weed bandwagon. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The last time California voted for rec weed, in 2010, the initiative failed. But that was a midterm election – which doesn’t bring out crucial young and minority voting demographics. During this presidential election, Prop 64 looks poised to succeed, despite the fact that marijuana growers are actually among those opposing it because of “increased regulations, taxes, and environmental costs.” Still, recent polls show 60% support for the measure.
Maine, the home of weed-industry enthusiast Stephen King and an excellent medical marijuana program, has really been the bellwether legal pot state in the Northeast. Their ballot initiative would be quite liberal, even allowing for Amsterdam-esque “cannabis cafes.” And unlike most initiatives, which allow for one ounce of legal pot possession, Maine’s “Question 1” has opted for a robust 2.5 ounces. A recent poll shows that 53.8% support legalization.
Name: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act or Question 4
Every four years, Massachusetts ratchets up the weed love. In 2008, they voted for decriminalization. In 2012, they legalized medical marijuana. So trends would suggest that this year’s “Question 4”—which would allow for “cannabis cafes”—is destined for success. But not necessarily. Polls have varied, but the most recent polling shows 51% opposing legalization.
Nevada was the first 2016 rec weed legalization campaign to get the required number of signatures on the ballot. In fact, it got 60,000 extra signatures, and two years before the vote. Nevada residents would be allowed to possess 1 ounce; residents who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary would be allowed to grow 6 ounces. And the stats are looking good, despite a lack of support from state’s most prominent politician, Sen. Harry Reid (D). Recent polls show 50% of Nevadans support legalization, versus 41% opposing it.
Arkansas voters will be voting on two different medical marijuana initiatives come November: The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. The main difference would be the number of dispensaries allowed in-state. There has been loads of legal wrangling leading up to the vote, but if one of these passes, Arkansas will be the first Southern state to pass any form of weed legalization.
Name: Amendment 2
Little known fact: Florida already has medical marijuana dispensaries. (But they only carry low-THC cannabis oils.) And the last time Florida tried to pass a medical marijuana law, in 2014…they got over 50% of the vote. However, this is a state where a supermajority of 60% of voters have to vote yes. It’s looking good – with some polls showing support as high as 69% – but let’s see what happens when the negative ads (fueled in part by a $1 million donation from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson) start flooding Florida’s airwaves.
Name: Ballot Issue 24
Montana already has a medical marijuana law – it’s just restrictive. This initiative would remove the three-patient limit imposed on marijuana providers, and would also add chronic pain and PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions. If it doesn’t pass, the state’s current laws would remain intact.
The so-called “North Dakota Compassionate Care Act” would allow patients to possess up to a mind-boggling 3 ounces of marijuana. And for patients who live 40 miles or more from a dispensary, they would be allowed to grow up to eight plants. But this vote’s gonna be a squeaker—polls are showing support for a yes vote at 47%.