By: Judith Cassel & Melissa Chapaska
While America anxiously awaits the results of the presidential election, voters’ acceptance of recreational and medical marijuana initiatives delivered big wins for the cannabis industry.
In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters elected to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults. As a result, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota will permit adults to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. These states will also establish a regulated retail marijuana market. As a result of New Jersey’s referendum, the state legislature is required to amend state law to allow adult recreational marijuana use.
In Mississippi voters chose to allow patients with debilitating medical issues to legally obtain marijuana for 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. With a doctor recommendation, patients in Mississippi will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period. Mississippi voters also rejected another proposal from the state legislature, which included a ban on smoking medical cannabis for patients who are not terminally ill and required that medical marijuana products be of “suitable pharmaceutical quality.”
In South Dakota, citizens voted to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana. The recreational measure is in the form of a constitutional amendment that allows adults 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana, and cultivate up to three cannabis plants. In approving South Dakota’s medical marijuana initiative, voters agreed to a statutory change that will allow patients suffering from debilitating conditions to possess and purchase up to three ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary.
What will these wins mean for marijuana policy throughout the rest of the nation? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain – cannabis was a winner this election.