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While Election Night was full of disappointment by the shellacking of the Democratic Party, progressives can applaud themselves for something. Last night, two states and the District of Columbia voted into reality the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. all passed measures to allow for personal marijuana use with restrictions in place. Florida had a measure to allow for medical marijuana on the ballot that failed because it didn’t get the requisite amount of votes to pass.

Alaska’s law, Ballot Measure 2, attracted many young voters to the polls in support of the issue. The passing of the initiative was still seen as a long shot by even the most ardent supporters, but last night’s showing proved otherwise. The state decriminalized the narcotic in 1975 and already allowed for medical marijuana use. This new law, however, will go into effect in 90 days and will be regulated by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development which has nine months to introduce fair use laws.

Oregon’s law, Measure 91, and its passage made it the third state to allow for the recreational use and sale of the leaf. The state will open storefronts where users over 21 will be allowed to purchase their wares. The state will use the tax revenue for schools, law enforcement and other government-related programs. Oregon’s law is also generous, with users allowed to possess up to eight ounces of the product.

D.C.’s law, Initiative 71, was a social media success and galvanized young voters in the Nation’s Capital. The measure passed easily but it is not without its restrictions. Like the other laws in place nationwide, users must be 21 and can only possess two ounces of the weed at a time. People can grow their own trees inside their homes as well without threat from law enforcement. But before citizens can fire one up, the measure must be approved by Congress in the next 30 days.

Guam passed a medical marijuana measure for patients with “debilitating conditions” only. California, which allows medical marijuana use, decriminalized the drug with its Proposition 47 law passing.

This doesn’t mean people can begin using the stuff in the street. It is intended for private use inside one’s home and smoking or using the drug on federal property is still prohibited.


Photo: O’Dea/CC BY-SA 3.0