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.
- Hawaii lawmaker resigns from Republican Party to join Democrats
- Mexico drug war investigators unearth 47 more skulls in mass graves
- Justice Dept delivers documents on wiretap claim to Congress
- After fleeing to US, some asylum-seekers run north to escape Trump crackdown
- Fire at Guatemala shelter kills 22 girls, police blame arson
- Father of slain soldier who criticised Trump says travel rights reviewed
- US House panel to probe possible Russia-Trump campaign collusion: Democrat
- 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
- One killed in blast near Dhaka airport; police rule out 'suicide attack'
- Security forces mount raid on Sylhet building
- 'Send in the SWAT!' - militant suspect tells police surrounding Sylhet building
- Donald Trump greets Abdul Hamid, Sheikh Hasina on Bangladesh’s Independence Day
- Not consulted by Centre on Teesta, state's interests come first: Mamata
- Ex-husband of slain bank employee Arifa caught in Tangail
- BNP, Jamaat lawyers dominate in Supreme Court Bar Association election
- Islamic State 'claims responsibility for attack' at Dhaka airport roundabout
- Bangladesh Bank building catches fire
- Final phase of smart NID distribution from Apr 10