On 6th November, the battle to legalize marijuana gained three more states as voters in Michigan voted to authorize the recreational use of marijuana. Proposal 1 effectively permits adults of 21 years and above to buy, grow, possess, and consume cannabis leisurely. Citizens will have to adhere to the state’s regulation such as growing a maximum of twelve marijuana plants in their homes.
This historical vote makes Michigan the only state in America’s Midwest to pass this law and the tenth state throughout the country. Pundits see this win as a strong indication that Americans want the marijuana laws to change across the board. Steve Hawkins—the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project—surmised that these federal laws are due for a change.
More conservative states like North Dakota rejected the idea of marijuana for recreational use which means American’s are still divided on this stance. The North Dakota Association of Counties poked holes in the bill as it failed to limit how much cannabis one person can grow.
Missouri, on the other hand, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis to manage various health conditions like Alzheimer’s and PTSD but not consume recreationally. These states are averse of the burden that comes with battling addiction due to abuse of the legislation among its population. Amendment 2 also levied a 4% tax on marijuana sales and this revenue will be channeled to minding the health of veterans.
Likewise, Utah’s Proposition 2 permits medicinal use of marijuana and in the same breadth allowed other ways of consuming cannabis such as vaping and infusing with edibles like brownies. This bill has been a long way coming, and in October, lawmakers settled for a compromised version that saw the removal and addition of selected qualifying conditions. More so, the bill accorded local jurisdictions power to ban marijuana dispensaries as they deemed fit including a demand for a licensed pharmacist per shop. Even the Mormon Church is backing the medicinal use of cannabis which shows how far the state has traveled from conservative views in this regard.
These new gains add to the growing list of states that legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. California boasts of the biggest market for this plant, and its inaugural shops opened at the start of 2018. This unprecedented win now serves as the blueprint for other states to follow.
Since this groundbreaking win in the east coast, other regions have gone down this path such as Oklahoma which approved cannabis for medicinal use and New Jersey is set to legalize by year’s end.
What do Americans think?
Presently, two in three people argue that legalization of marijuana is okay and something that is inevitable in the long run. This is a far cry from the statistics dating back decades when smoking weed was shunned and seen as a form of dissidence. As of 2018, more than 50% of states have passed legislation to approve the use of marijuana in some sort, and this number is projected to increase dramatically by 2020.
There is a constant debate on whether these legalizations will wreak havoc in America including addiction, breakage of families, and development of street families, but this has not come to fruition. States have their unique measures to regulate the market, and a befitting punishment will be meted out to anyone who is found to contravene marijuana laws. However, the efficiency of regulation in the use of marijuana still remains unclear, with the risk of abuse reigning eminently.
Controlled Substances Act
Interestingly, despite new efforts to legalize marijuana consumption across America, this plant is still prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act. Fortunately, things are looking up as President Trump has alluded to the likelihood of easing the federal ban, but there is no timeline for this. Voters in the remaining states will have to ponder and determine if they want to allow consumption of cannabis or not, and for what purposes.
What is next?
As seen above, the battle for legalization of marijuana is heating up as more states are added on the win column. Efforts are afoot to reach out to voters at the grassroots level to hear their concerns and address them aptly. Organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project are keen to educate people on the use of cannabis and urge voters to legalize it in their states just as what Michigan did.