Voters could legalise marijuana for quarter of all Americans
Published: 2016-11-08 18:54:55.0 BdST Updated: 2016-11-08 18:55:21.0 BdST
Nearly a quarter of Americans will live in areas where recreational marijuana use is legal if voters approve initiatives on Tuesday permitting the recreational use of cannabis in California, Massachusetts and three other states.
With pot already legal for use by adults in four states and the District of Columbia, a win for legalised marijuana in California alone would make the entire West Coast a cannabis-friendly zone, completing a geographical march begun in Washington state and Oregon.
Potential victories in Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine would fill in much of the rest of the West and extend recreational use to the Northeast. Opinion polls show voters favouring the initiative in all five states.
In addition, measures to legalise medical marijuana or expand its use are on the ballot in North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas and Florida.
Twenty-five states already have legalised cannabis in some form, whether medical or recreational, or both.
In California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed 55 percent of likely voters supported a ballot initiative that would authorise the state to tax and regulate retail cannabis sales much like it does alcoholic beverages.
That was similar to the numbers favouring legalisation from opinion polls in Massachusetts and Maine. Slimmer majorities or pluralities also point to legalisation in Arizona and Nevada.
Approval by California alone, America's most populous state with 39 million people, would put nearly a fifth of all Americans living in states where recreational marijuana is legal, according to US Census figures. That number grows to more than 23 percent if all five state measures pass.
Backers of legalised marijuana sales have tried for decades to win support at the ballot box, with little success until the past few years, starting with victories in Colorado and Washington state in 2012.
Experts say the latest initiatives include more sophisticated regulatory mechanisms aimed at keeping cannabis away from children and banning the involvement of criminal gangs and drug cartels. Public opinion has rapidly swung toward favouring legalisation.
"It's changed in the minds of these voters from being like cocaine to being like beer," said University of Southern California political scientist John Matsusaka.
Legalisation by even a few of the states where measures are on the ballot could prod the federal government, which still classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin, to begin rethinking its laws and policies, Matsusaka said.
Any unauthorised use or reproduction of bdnews24.com content for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited and constitutes copyright infringement liable to legal action.
- 75 years later, Japanese Americans recall pain of internment camps
- Trump controversies: Michael Flynn, the travel ban and others
- Hundreds of immigrants arrested in 'routine' US enforcement surge
- Safe on US soil, new arrivals breathe sigh of relief
- Some nations affected by US immigration order may stay on list
- How Trump's abrupt immigration ban created confusion at airports, agencies
- First days of Trump era signal America's deepening political divide
- White House vows to fight media 'tooth and nail' over Trump coverage
- White House accuses media of playing down inauguration crowds
- Trump attacks civil rights leader who questioned his election win
- Bangladeshi man killed in New York by landlord over rent dispute: Police
- BNP is a terrorist organisation: Canada court
- Former BNP leader Tanbir Ahmed Siddiky's son Irad arrested
- Big fashion brands pull out of Bangladesh garment summit over worker rights concerns
- Gas prices bubble up: Bangladesh households hit with over 50% monthly rise for stoves
- Astronomers find seven Earth-size planets where life may be possible
- Awami League's plot behind Canada court's verdict: BNP
- Hasina taunts Khaleda for stepping onto main altar of the Shaheed Minar
- Kabori’s memoirs at Ekushey Book Fair
- PM Hasina's official visit to India in April