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Marijuana Won Big with More States Voting Yes for Recreational or MMJ

The 2016 election results are rolling in, and more states have voted to legalize recreational marijuana. With several states also voting to expand or legalize medical marijuana, it's a greener day today in America. Recreational marijuana legalization was on the ballot in Massachusetts, California, Maine, Arizona, and Nevada, while voters in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and Montana faced ballot questions relating to the initiation or expansion of medical marijuana programs. Cannabis activists around the country put in countless hours of work campaigning for marijuana legalization, and while their efforts didn't win out across the board, the 2016 election results are a definite win for marijuana.

Here are the state by state election results for recreational marijuana legalization and medical marijuana

Massachusetts marijuana election results

Massachusetts voters decided on Question 4 legalizing marijuana throughout the state. With 96% of people precincts reporting, the Massachusetts Question 4 results were 54% in favor of marijuana legalization with a lead of over 230,000 votes. Recreational marijuana will now be legalized in Massachusetts.

This measure allows for the sale, cultivation, use, and distribution of marijuana for adults age 21 or older and establishes a system for regulating and taxing retail marijuana sales.

California recreational marijuana election results

California voters decided to approve Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana throughout the state. With 96% of the votes counted, Proposition 64 was leading by more than 1,000,000 votes. These California election results legalize marijuana recreational sales, possession, and cultivation.

Arizona election results for marijuana legalization

In Arizona election results for Proposition 205 did not legalize marijuana possession for adults age 21 and older. With 98% of the votes counted, there were over 80,000  more votes opposing Proposition 205 than there were votes in favor of marijuana legalization. For now, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Arizona.

Maine marijuana legalization election results

Maine voters decided on marijuana legalization initiative that would legalize marijuana possession of up to 2 ½ ounces and allow residents to grow up to six marijuana plants. At the time of this writing,the vote is extremely close with those in favor of Maine marijuana legalization having a slight lead. With 90% of precincts reporting, the marijuana legalization initiative had earned 50% of the votes with a less than 5,000 vote difference between those in favor and those opposed.

Nevada marijuana election results

Nevada marijuana election results have legalized marijuana possession and recreational sales, establishing a 15% sales tax and giving established medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada the first opportunity to apply for a recreational marijuana sales license. The Nevada marijuana legalization initiative passed by a very slim margin of less than 100,000 votes.

Arkansas marijuana legalization election results

In Arkansas voters decided in favor of medical marijuana legalization by a slim margin of less than 70,000 votes. The election results for Arkansas marijuana legalization Issue 6 legalizes marijuana use for 17 different medical conditions.

Florida medical marijuana election results

Florida has legalized medical marijuana.Florida medical marijuana election results legalize marijuana use for approved debilitating conditions and diseases. Amendment 2 passed by a wide margin. With 100% of precincts reporting, 71% of voters chose to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, with nearly 4,000,000 more votes in favor than in opposition.

Montana marijuana election results

Montana voters decided to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, voting in favor of Montana medical marijuana initiative I-182. With 97% reporting, the medical marijuana measure had won 57% of the vote. These election results repeal the three patient limit imposed on medical marijuana providers, adds PTSD and chronic pain to the list of approved conditions, and paves the way for the expansion of the medical marijuana industry in Montana.

North Dakota medical marijuana election results

North Dakota medical marijuana election results are in favor of medical marijuana legalization by a 64% margin. North Dakota Measure 5 legalizes medical marijuana for epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer, ALS, and several other specified conditions.

Marijuana Legalization across America

These 2016 election results show that the tides have turned in favor of marijuana. Marijuana legalization is being adopted by more and more states, and if the trend continues, marijuana legalization at the federal level seems almost inevitable. For now, marijuana entrepreneurs in the newly legal marijuana states are scrambling to get their business plans in place and their  applications ready to file, and marijuana activists are celebrating victories while looking ahead to a time when marijuana is legal across America.

 

 

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States across the US are changing their views on cannabis, and they have been doing so for some time. That’s why it was monumental to see movement at the federal level, and not just the state. On December 4, 2020, the US House of Representatives passed H.B. 3884, titled the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2020”, or the MORE Act for short. But when will weed be federally legal?

When will weed be federally legal

While it is likely to be blocked in the Senate, the passage at the House of Representatives comes after 50+ years of strict federal prohibition of marijuana. While it may have taken a lifetime, and we still are not there yet, this is hopeful - and not just because it would make marijuana federally legal. 

The bill is loaded with resolutions that reach across political parties and offers some compassion for the mistakes and tragedies our criminal justice system has placed on consumers, growers, and non-malicious purveyors. 

Let’s take a look.

50 Years in The Making: Removing Cannabis From The Controlled Substances Act of 1970

The Wall Street Journal reports “The vote was largely along party lines. Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and five Republicans voted in favor of the bill, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) who was a cosponsor. Six Democrats voted against the bill, all centrist lawmakers.” 

The bill passed the House with 228 Congressperson's voting in favor and 164 votings against the Bill, marking the first time since 1970 a measure for reforming cannabis laws that make marijuana federally legal was passed by either chamber of Congress.

What Would The MORE Act of 2020 Change?

There are several high-impact components in the Bill, most of which can stunningly reduce the past, existing, and future harm individuals and communities have faced from criminalization. 

Given these harms are and have always disproportionately impacted minority communities, the push to right the wrongs of our systems is front and center in the minds of many voters - and it seems most US House representatives support change as well. See some of their remarks below.

  1. The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act

If signed into law, the MORE act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively leaving it to states to determine how they want their residents to engage with the plant.  

“Across this nation, thousands of men and women have suffered needlessly from the federal criminalization of marijuana, particularly in communities of color and have borne the burden of collateral consequences for those ensnared in criminal legal systems that have damaged our society across generations.” - Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

  1. Like the states already do, The MORE Act would allow the Federal government to tax cannabis

The legislation would impose a five percent federal tax on cannabis products. These funds would be used by programs in communities hurt by the war on drugs.

According to Marijuana Moment, “As now structured, the MORE Act would make it so cannabis would be federally taxed at five percent for the first two years after implementation and then increased by one percent each year until reaching eight percent. After five years, taxes would be applied to marijuana products based on weight rather than price.”

If passed, the MORE Act would both make cannabis federally legal - or at least states can choose without fear of a federal crackdown - and would create a Community Reinvestment Grant Program. 

The program would use tax dollars for job training, literacy programs, and youth recreation and mentoring services, and numerous other community services and organizations.

“This is about allowing states and localities to self-determine what their marijuana policies should be.” - Justin Strekal, political director at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, to WSJ.

weed federally legal

  1. The MORE Act expunges criminal records for most offenders

Within the bill, there are measures to resentence individuals currently incarcerated for criminal offenses related to cannabis. While ‘resentence’ means that the individual may still be sentenced for a crime, under the MORE Act, a majority of low-level cannabis offenses will be expunged. 

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2020 clarifies that not all marijuana offenses are eligible for expungement. More specifically, violent marijuana offenders and “kingpins” will be barred from resentencing/ expungement under the MORE Act. 

Under the rules making cannabis federally legal, the number of incarcerated individuals for nonviolent marijuana charges would see a substantial drop. 

  1. The MORE Act does not require that federal positions be tested for THC or other cannabis-derived compounds, except in limited circumstances

The rules go on to say that the Transportation Department and Coast Guard may continue to include marijuana in drug testing programs, but most federal employees (and applicants) would no longer be ineligible for work because they got high on holiday. Hurray!

If you didn’t know, marijuana testing was a federal employee requirement. And since THC can be detected in urine for 2-4 weeks, people seeking federal employment had to worry about their employment, and their activities outside of the office would collide in a negative way. The MORE Act would allow this anxiety to disappear. 

  1. Immigrants would have broader marijuana protections under the MORE Act

The bill, passed Dec. 4, 2020, aims to further protections for immigrant individuals and families. With regard to immigration laws, the MORE Act, in making marijuana federally legal, states the following:

....an alien may not be denied any benefit or protection under the immigration laws based on  any event, including conduct, a finding, an admission, addiction or abuse, an arrest, a juvenile adjudication, or a conviction, relating to cannabis, regardless of whether the event occurred before, on, or after the effective date of this Act.

BONUS: The MORE Act minimizes barriers to entry for small business owners through loan program access

Under the MORE Act, a Cannabis Justice Office would be started. The Office would have appointees under the Justice Department. This individual or office would be responsible for distributing funds provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that provide loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and/ or economically disadvantaged individuals. These loans seek to reduce inequality by minimizing any existing bias or discrimination in current borrowing practices. 

federally legal weed

Making Marijuana Federally Legal: What’s Next?

While the MORE Act passed the House of Representatives, the Senate is less favorable. The reasons for this are largely political and civil. However, since criminal penalties are being discussed, it is likely to cause a bit of frothy conversation first. 

The passage of the MORE act in Congress marks a first, but also a half-way point. There is more political and social support for changing the law than ever before, but it is not yet enough. When will weed be federally legal?

Not yet, but we're almost there.

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