Cannabis Election Report

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Initiatives to legalize cannabis for either medicinal or recreational use were on the ballot in nine states in the November 8 USA elections. Eight states passed their proposals; only Arizona did not. Generalizing about the legality of the herb’s use in the United States is difficult, since every state law is unique in some way or another (quantity limits, limits on the number and nature of prescriptions, restrictions on possession, permission to possess and use but not to buy or sell, and other permutations), but here is a rough overview after the election.

In nine jurisdictions, both recreational and medicinal use will be allowed by state law:

1.    Alaska
2.    California
3.    Colorado
4.    District of Columbia
5.    Maine
6.    Massachusetts
7.    Nevada
8.    Oregon
9.    Washington

In 31 states, either state law will permit use under a doctor’s care, for a medicinal purpose, or the possession of it has been “decriminalized” (meaning that penalties have been eliminated or greatly reduced for possession or use of small amounts):

1.    Alabama
2.    Arizona
3.    Arkansas
4.    Connecticut
5.    Delaware
6.    Florida
7.    Georgia
8.    Hawaii
9.    Illinois
10.    Iowa
11.    Louisiana
12.    Maryland
13.    Michigan
14.    Minnesota
15.    Mississippi
16.    Montana
17.    Nebraska
18.    New Hampshire
19.    New Jersey
20.    New Mexico
21.    New York
22.    North Carolina
23.    North Dakota
24.    Ohio
25.    Oklahoma
26.    Pennsylvania
27.    Rhode Island
28.    Tennessee
29.    Texas
30.    Vermont
31.    Wisconsin

In the remaining 11 states, use will remain illegal under state law for any purpose:

1.    Idaho
2.    Indiana
3.    Kansas
4.    Kentucky
5.    Missouri
6.    South Carolina
7.    South Dakota
8.    Utah
9.    Virginia
10.    West Virginia
11.    Wyoming

Where some or all use or possession is illegal, state penalties vary greatly, from nuisance fines to much more serious penalties. Marijuana is technically a banned substance under federal law in all parts of the USA (it is classified as being as dangerous as heroin), although federal law enforcement authorities generally prosecute only cases where large quantities are involved.

Text by Edward Johns
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