Pot at the Polls: Eight States to Vote on Marijuana This November
On November 8, 2016, California voters will head to the polls to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana. According to The Los Angeles Times, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which garnered over 600,000 signatures to earn a spot on the ballot, would permit Californians 21 and older to possess, transport, and consume up to one ounce of marijuana recreationally. Additionally, individuals would be able to grow up to six marijuana plants. If passed, this would make California the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana along with Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C.
According to Fortune, eight states are expected to vote on marijuana initiatives this November. Initiatives are officially on the ballot in six states, while those in two other states are expected to collect enough signatures by their respective deadlines to make the ballot (noted by *).
- AR – Medical marijuana only
- AZ* – Recreational marijuana (medical marijuana already legal)
- CA – Recreational marijuana (medical marijuana already legal)
- FL – Medical marijuana only
- MA – Recreational marijuana (medical marijuana already legal)
- ME – Recreational marijuana (medical marijuana already legal)
- MO* – Medical marijuana only
- NV – Recreational marijuana (medical marijuana already legal)
Colorado, which became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, has arguably had mixed results over the last three years. Initial fears of an increase in marijuana use among Colorado youth never materialized. To the contrary, a new study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that occasional use of marijuana by teens is down around 4 percent since 2009. Additionally, Fortune reports that the state collected $135 million in tax revenues on nearly $1 billion in licensed marijuana sales in 2015 alone. However, some unintended consequences of legalization are only now becoming apparent. One of Colorado’s busiest cities for marijuana cultivation and sales, Pueblo, has seen significant spikes in murders and other crime since the 2012 vote, along with a sharp increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said of the state-wide crime uptick and 88 illegal drug cartel busts thus far, “That’s crime we hadn’t previously had in Colorado.” In an interview with CNBC, Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper also regrets the state’s decision to legalize the use of recreational marijuana due to unforeseen consequences. “If I could’ve waved a wand the day after the election, I would’ve reversed the election and said ‘this was a bad idea,’” he said.