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A woman smokes a marijuana cigarette during a legalization party at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Ontario, October 17, 2018. (Photo by Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

culture | 01.01.2022

Why America Is Inching Closer To Cannabis Legalization

The stigma around cannabis is dissolving at breakneck speed.

Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to approve the adult use of recreational cannabis. There are now ten states and the District of Columbia that have fully legalized the recreational consumption of the plant. Medical cannabis is legal in 33 states after Missouri and Utah approved medicinal marijuana laws. The only ballot loss on the night for advocates of the plant occurred when North Dakota voters failed to pass a measure legalizing recreational use. Possessing, selling or using marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
North Dakota’s Measure 3 required the expungement of all marijuana-related convictions. The North Dakota Association of Counties opposed the measure, saying the state is still struggling to implement the 2016 bill that legalized medical use. In Utah, politicians were prepared to permit the medical use of cannabis even if Proposition 2 failed. The Governor, key politicians, and the Mormon church were those said to be backing the initiative.
It is obvious the gateway to recreational cannabis begins with a medical program. Once governments have the framework installed and the infrastructure necessary for inspection and taxation, politicians become comfortable with cannabis because politicians want to create jobs and revenue. More than politicians it is clear voters are experiencing the therapeutic benefit, constituents insist on more access. Every state that has legalized for adult use first had a medical cannabis program.

Cannabis Legalization is a Global Trend

Last week Mexico legalized cannabis. Mexico’s Supreme Court set a binding precedent that ends the prohibition on cannabis cultivation, possession, and use. Canada legalized adult use cannabis on October 17 of this year. Now both of America’s neighbors have effectively legalized the plant.
The unknowns are fading even though our federal government refuses to allow medical research and clinical trials. There is some scientific research that provides accurate information on what the risks of cannabis may be, but more research is immediately needed. Patients and people have taken matters into their own hands around the world, and soon the data will be abundant.
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Double Dutch Soda medical marijuana is pictured at Cultivate in Leicester, MA on Nov. 7, 2018. Cultivate will be one of the first pot shops set to start selling recreational marijuana. It currently sells medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts are likely just days away after state regulators said they had cleared two licensed cannabis testing laboratories to officially begin operations. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

How States Voted On Cannabis Issues in the Midterms:

Michigan Proposal 1: Passed- In Favor 56.8%, Opposed 43.2%

Adults 21 and older are legally allowed to purchase, possess and use cannabis including edibles. This permits up to 12 plants for personal consumption in home grows. Anything over 2.5 ounces must be kept in a locked container. A 10% tax on the retail sale of cannabis and edibles is also instituted under this proposal. The tax revenue generated will be allocated to the districts that have cannabis businesses, and the money is to be spent on clinical trials, schools, roads, and municipalities. Several current violations were changed from crimes to civil infractions.

Missouri Amendment 2: Passed- In Favor 65.5%, Opposed 34.5%

This establishes a medical cannabis program for patients with qualifying conditions and imposes a 4% sales tax on the retail sale of medical cannabis. The use of the tax is to regulate the cannabis facilities and to provide health care services for military veterans.

North Dakota Measure 3: Failed- Opposed 59.4%, In Favor 40.6%,

This would have removed cannabis and THC derivatives from the list of schedule I controlled substances. It also would have eliminated prosecution for any non-violent cannabis-related activity for residents over 21. Lastly, this measure would have created an appeals process for an individual to expunge a criminal record and would have established no limit on the home plant count of recreational home grows.

Utah Proposition 2: Passed- In Favor 53.2%, Opposed 46.8%

This establishes a medical cannabis program for certain illnesses. A patient may grow up to six cannabis plants for their medical use. It also authorized the state to license facilities that grow, process, test and sell medical cannabis.

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