California, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved recreational marijuana on Tuesday. They joined four other states and Washington, D.C., which had already passed similar laws. The number of states where medical marijuana is legal reached two dozen as Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas joined the mix.
The first state where medical weed was approved twenty years ago was California, which is among the five states voting to allow adults to use is for recreational purposes. Arizona rejected the idea, and the decision remained unclear in Maine early Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
Massachusetts became the first state east of the Mississippi to approve recreational pot, and California legalized the use and sale of recreational cannabis along the West Coast. Similarly to the law that allows alcohol consumption, marijuana would be limited to people 21 or older, but they wouldn’t be authorized to use it in most public areas. Some states would allow people grow their own cannabis. However, the activity would be regulated and heavily taxed, as reported by the Columbia Daily Tribune.
About 75 million people (23 percent of the entire U.S. population) would live in states where recreational weed is legalized if the positive vote prevails across the country. As of Wednesday, eighteen million residents (5.6 percent of the population) live in the jurisdictions where recreational pot is already legal, including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington D.C., and the District of Columbia. As for medical marijuana, it is allowed in 25 states. Restrictions on a current medical marijuana law will be eased in Montana as a result of the vote.
In Emerald Triangle in Northern California, a region where cannabis has been cultivated for decades, a significant number of small growers have been waiting for legitimacy but also fear that large corporate farms could force them out of business.
Opponents argue that weed legalization could endanger children
National polls have revealed that a wide majority of Americans support marijuana legalization while opponents argue that children would be threatened and it raises the risk for an emerging industry focused on selling people an unhealthy drug. Law enforcement groups, farmers and anti-drug crusaders are among those who reject the idea of weed legalization for recreational purposes.
“We are, of course, disappointed,” said Ken Corney, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, according to AP. Corney said his organization plans to work with lawmakers to develop a driving-under-the-influence policy.”