Seriously, the last thing I want to write about today is the 2016 election. Regardless of outcome, I think I’d be feeling this way. Yet, what sort of blog would this be if we didn’t take the time to acknowledge the massive strides in legalization that were made in yesterday’s vote. As far as recreational weed goes, Nevada, Massachusetts, and the all-important California sealed the deal though, at the time of writing this, the jury’s still out in Maine (edit: Maine officially legalized as I was publishing this). Arizona was a hard “no” but that isn’t too much of a shock. On the medical side, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota have all legalized to varying degrees. With the immense population in California anchoring yesterday’s legalization juggernaut, the population that now has access to recreational marijuana has more than tripled. Might as well throw another impressive statistic at you while I’m at it; this vote means that approximately 1 in 5 American adults now has access to recreational marijuana.
The Domino Effect
So what does this mean for the rest of the United States? We’ve mentioned several times that California’s legalization of cannabis could result in a domino effect for the rest of the country but how would that work? There are actually a number of ways this could manifest. The first, though the least concrete, would be relying on simple human herd mentality. Trends seem to be leaning strongly toward legalization (4 out of 5 states ain’t bad) and with conservative states such as Arkansas and Florida approving medical use, the prohibitionists seem to be fading into the minority. Having lived in Florida for many years, I would never imagine its citizens voting in approval of medical marijuana. I’ve only been gone for about a decade but it seems a lot has changed in these 10 years.
Petitioning the Feds for Recreational Weed
Another method of swaying the federal government to legalization would be through organized collaboration between the states that have already legalized. This morning was the first time that the sun rose upon a west coast that had completely legalized recreational weed (at least in most of our lifetimes). The close proximity of these major legal states could find them working together to petition the federal government to release its archaic grip on marijuana once and for all.
Other Benefits and Consequences of Prop. 64
Of course, not everyone is pleased with California’s long-awaited shift to a legalized marijuana state. In particular, cannabis farmers are anticipating a hike in prices due to lofty taxes on herb. However, advocates are hailing this as a momentous victory beyond the immediate right to get high. We’ve previously mentioned on this blog that statistics highlight a racial prejudice in marijuana-related arrests. Proponents of California’s Prop. 64 are optimistic that the legalization bill will result in less racial discrimination as well as a dramatic reduction in arrests for non-violent crimes.
California may still be waiting until 2018 before its recreational weed shops open. Until then, it’s still legal for adults 21 and older to carry 28.5 grams (approximately an ounce) of herb or 8 grams of concentrate. Likewise, the green light is lit for growing, so adults can use the next year or so to test their green thumbs with a limit of 6 cannabis plants. In the meantime, medical marijuana cards will still function as usual.