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Polling in recent years has indicated that more Americans than ever are approving of cannabis legalization, both for medical and recreational use. Election Day 2016 was resoundingly reflective of the country’s position on the issue. With a total of 9 states having cannabis legalization measures on the ballot, all but one of them wound up passing the measures.

Approved recreational measures

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The result has ensured that access to cannabis among consumers and medical patients will increase substantially in the coming years – with even more encouraging changes likely to follow.

A total of five states had measures on their respective ballots that would allow for the legal use of recreational cannabis. Four of the measures wound up gaining passage, with California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine all being met with voters’ approval.

The biggest prize of the night was almost certainly California. The Golden State – which passed its measure by a margin of 56 percent to 43 percent – will grant access to legal recreational cannabis to a staggering 38.8 million people and will likely revolutionize cannabis business and policy in America.

Taken in sum, all of the states that allow for access to recreational cannabis now encompasses one-fifth of the nation’s adults aged 21 and over.

Approved medical measures

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The evening was also a victory for proponents of medical cannabis. Every single state with medical cannabis measures on the ballot – a list that included North Dakota, Florida, Montana, and Arkansas – wound up passing their measures.

While Florida technically already allowed for the limited use of medical cannabis, the new measure, an amendment to the state constitution known as Amendment 2, which passed by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent, significantly expands the number of medical conditions that are eligible or medical cannabis.

29 states now allow for access to cannabis in some form, meaning the the tipping point has already been reached. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the nation, including the federal government, eventually follows suit.

…And the one that got away

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Perhaps the only bummer of the evening, depending on how you view the other stuff that occurred, was the outcome of Arizona’s vote on whether to approve a ballot measure legalizing the use, cultivation and sale of recreational cannabis.

The ballot initiative ultimately wound up falling by 5 points, 52 percent to 47 percent. The measure would have allowed for individuals 21 and older to possess and use recreational cannabis, and would have allowed individuals to grow up to six cannabis plants in their homes.

 Election Day 2016: A Great Day for Cannabis

Stephen Calabria

Stephen Calabria is a journalist currently living in New York City. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post, Deutsche Welle, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.
 Election Day 2016: A Great Day for Cannabis
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