Marijuana on the Ballot in Five States

Medical Marijuana 3This Tuesday’s election bodes well for supporters of the legalization of marijuana. Five states appear to be favoring legalization of the drug. If its status changes in just some of these states, the national discussion on the legalization of pot could take a more liberal turn.

The most important single state which will vote on the status of marijuana on Tuesday is California. This enormous state is the sixth largest economy in the world, and is home to 40 million people. The state has had a de-criminalization status for marijuana in place for about 20 years, meaning that it is relatively easy to get a license for “medicinal” use for almost any condition from insomnia to inability to concentrate. Now the state looks like it will give marijuana full legal status. If it does, that move is a game-changer for the federal position on legalization.

“I’ve been calling 2016 the game-over year,” said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group. “Because if California wins, that’s going to put enormous pressure on Congress to end marijuana prohibition. If all five win, that’s even better. If California legalizes, it’s going to become much harder for Congress not to do anything.”

The other four states voting on whether to legalize pot are Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, all with slight leads in favor of legalization.

Today there are four states and one district in which marijuana is legal for recreational use. Washington and Colorado were the first to pass laws to legalize with Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC following just two years later. Voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and Florida will decide whether to permit the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Montanans will vote to remove or not remove restrictions from the state’s current medical marijuana law. If all of these states pass the more liberal marijuana laws medical marijuana will be legal in a clear majority of US states.

Gail Nussbaum

Gail Nussbaum has been involved in politics and diplomacy for over 15 years. Her interest in foreign relations, economics and budget policy has led her to her position as fiscal policy writer at Left Justified. Gail can be contacted at gailnussbaum(at)

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