Nearly half of the US has already legalized marijuana, for either medical or recreational use. This November, another eight states could continue the trend.
Of those eight states, five have ballot initiatives that could result in outright recreational legalization. Most significantly, California could legalize recreational use — thus making the entire west coast a legal enclave for recreational cannabis.
All the initiatives below can be voted on this November alongside the presidential election. Here’s everything we know.
In Massachusetts on November 8, voters will choose yes or no on “Question 4” — a bill to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana. The bill calls for regulation along the lines of alcohol, if passed.
Though Massachusetts is a long-running blue state, the legalization effort in the commonwealth faces serious opposition from sitting Democratic leadership. Governor Charlie Baker and Boston mayor Marty Walsh, both Democrats, oppose recreational legalization. The two joined Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey in a Boston Globe op-ed this past March, opposing the measure:
“Our state has already decriminalized the drug for personal use, and we’ve made it legally available for medical use. The question before us now is whether marijuana should be fully legal and widely available for commercial sale. We think the answer is ‘no.’”
All that said, a majority of voters support the measure, according to the current polling average on Ballotpedia. And two previous measures — to decriminalize use and legalize medical use — passed by a wide margin. If it does pass, the bill would fully legalize recreational possession, use, cultivation, and sale of marijuana starting on December 15, 2016.
Name: Question 4
Chance of passing: Good. The average of polls, according to Ballotpedia, is 48.5% support over 42.5% oppose.
In Maine on November 8, voters will choose yes or no on “Question 1” — a bill to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to adults over 21. Maine already allows for medicinal marijuana use.
Though Maine is a Democrat-leaning state, and this bill looks destined for passing with overwhelming support, several prior legalization efforts have failed. This time, things look more certain: Over $1 million was raised in pursuit of legalization in Maine, much of which was already spent gathering the signatures necessary to get Question 1 on the ballot this November. Attorney general Janet Mills and governor Paul LePage both oppose legalization, but there appears to be no formal opposition groups to this November’s ballot measure.
Name: Question 1
Chance of passing: Good. According to the Bangor Daily News, multiple polls show overwhelming support to legalization (in the range of 50-55% in favor, with 35-40% opposed).
In Arizona on November 8, voters will choose yes or no on “Proposition 205” — a bill to legalize the recreation use and cultivation of marijuana. If passed, regulation of marijuana would be handled on a state level, while regulation of individual retail stores would be handled on a town/city level. Legalization would only apply to residents age 21 or older.
Despite Arizona senator John McCain’s support of marijuana legalization in the state, Republican governor Doug Ducey opposes the initiative. Overall, Arizona is an overwhelmingly red state and has been for decades. Both of its senators are Republicans, as is its governor. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took the state’s 11 electoral votes from President Obama in 2012.
That said, Arizona is a state with rapidly changing demographics — and with that demographic shift, so too comes a political shift. Polling shows a close race in the battle over marijuana legalization, but the proposition, currently, looks like it won't pass.
Name: Proposition 205
Chance of passing: Not good. The average of polls puts support at 44.3%, and opposition at 46.6%, according to Ballotpedia. With a margin of error of +/- 3.6%, it's possible the proposition will pass, but it’s not looking great.
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