Since the start, 2016 has looked like a great year for marijuana legalization – the country is buzzing with campaigns in hopes of legalizing either medicinal or recreational marijuana to some degree. This year we have a record breaking number of ballot initiatives that have qualified for the November election; currently, there are 9 states who will have the opportunity to vote on marijuana legalization – and there are still campaigns petitioning in Missouri, Michigan and Oklahoma we can’t count out yet.
The states with the chance to vote on adult use of cannabis this November are currently California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Arizona; there is a campaign in Michigan still fighting in court to keep signatures that were deemed invalid. The states with the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana include Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota; Missouri will have the opportunity to significantly expand their current program with their current ballot initiative. There are also medical marijuana campaigns in Oklahoma, Michigan and Missouri who are still out there petitioning and running short on time.
For some states, this is the second time this kind of initiative has reached the ballots – Florida is seeing Amendment 2 for the second time and Proposition 64 is the second time Californians will be presented with the chance to legalize for adult use. Support has significantly improved for both campaigns since their previous appearance on the ballots, which gives many of us big hopes. Overall, the attitude towards cannabis and the current laws surrounding it seem to be finally leaning in one direction: it’s time for change.
“I think that speaks to both the public support of the issue and the maturation of the campaigns behind reforming marijuana laws,” Mr. Armentano said.
With the American opinion of medical marijuana largely on the side of legalization – and even adult use has over half of Americans giving their approval – it should come as no surprise that more and more states are jumping on the reform bandwagon. After years of living under prohibition, we now have 25 states with legal medical marijuana programs – that is half of our country and at least three more will get the chance to make that decision this November. After seeing the success legalization has had in Colorado, Washington and Oregon it is no shock that five states will be voting to take the same route.
If even two states legalize adult use and only one were to legalize medicinal marijuana this November, we would still have seen reform happen in five states in 2016; and so many more at least tried – and some states even considered going through legislature to do so. All this is pointing us in the right direction. The reform movement is not going to lose momentum now – even if an initiative fails the first time around, it helps us to revise proposed policies and bring a stronger fight the second time around. No matter how things turn out at the polls this November, 2016 has already been a successful year for marijuana legalization and I, for one, am excited to see where it all goes from here.