Medical marijuana is coming on strong in the U.S. Nearly half of America has already legalized marijuana in some form. On November 8, 2016, another four states voted in favor of outright marijuana legalization: California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts all voted in favor of legalized use, sale, and consumption of recreational marijuana.
In California voters chose to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana, with legalization limited to people over age 21. California, the world’s sixth largest economy, joins Oregon and Washington to make the entire west coast of the U.S. a haven for marijuana users. The passing of California’s initiative means the sentences of thousands of people convicted on charges related to marijuana will be vacated. Although marijuana use is now fully legal in California, there is a $100 fine for smoking in public. Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. California residents are allowed to grow up to six plants in their homes, and recreational sales from shops becomes legal January 1, 2018.
In Nevada and Massachusetts, voters chose to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana. In Nevada, residents are legally allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana as of January 1, 2018. Only licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to apply for licenses for recreational sales. The Massachusetts bill calls for regulation along the lines of alcohol, although it faced serious opposition from leadership on both sides of the aisle. Both Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh opposed recreational legalization in Massachusetts.
The two joined Attorney General Maura Healey in a Boston Globe op-ed this 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.'” Voters disagreed, and the measure passed 54% to 46%. Recreational marijuana use becomes legal as of December 15, 2016.
In Maine voters chose to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to adults over 21, but by a slim margin. Maine already allows medicinal marijuana use.