By Ben Gilbert
Nearly half of the US has already legalized marijuana in some form, and before Election Day, four states allowed recreational use and sales.
On November 8, 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.
Most significantly, California voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation making marijuana legal, on Proposition 64 — thus making the entire West Coast a legal enclave for recreational cannabis.
But the story is bigger than vote tallies — by how much did these ballots pass? What happens next? When do these laws go into effect?
Here’s everything we know:
In Massachusetts on November 8, voters chose yes on Question 4 — a bill to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana. The bill calls for regulation along the lines of alcohol.
Though Massachusetts is a long-running blue state, the legalization effort in the commonwealth faced serious opposition from sitting leadership in both parties. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh opposed recreational legalization. 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.'”
Result: A majority of voters supported the measure — 54% yes to 46% no — according to Ballotpedia. The bill legalizes recreational marijuana starting on December 15.
Skye Gould/Business Insider
In California on November 8, voters chose yes on Proposition 64 — a bill to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana. Legalization is limited to people over age 21.
California’s Proposition 64 was the most important of all the legalization initiatives on the ballot this November.
With the passing of Proposition 64, the entire West Coast of the US has legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana use. That’s huge. California, by itself, is the world’s sixth-largest economy, ahead of places like France. You know, that whole country? France? Right.
An overwhelming majority of California residents support it, even though Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposes legalization, and Gov. Jerry Brown said in 2014 “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”
California’s initiative is unique in that it rolls back the sentences of thousands of people who’ve been convicted on charges related to marijuana.
Result: Proposition 64 passed overwhelmingly, with 56% voting yes to 44% voting no. As of 12:01 a.m. on November 9, marijuana use is fully legal in California. There’s a $100 fine for smoking in public, and 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 will become legal on January 1, 2018.