The legalization of marijuana is associated with a reduction in crime, as well as drug and alcohol use, according to a new study published by the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
“First-pass evidence is provided that the legalization of the cannabis market across US states is inducing a crime drop”, states the study’s abstract. “We exploit the staggered legalization of recreational marijuana enacted by the adjacent states of Washington (end of 2012) and Oregon (end of 2014). Combining county-level difference-in-differences and spatial regression discontinuity designs, we find that the policy caused a significant reduction in rapes and property crimes on the Washington side of the border in 2013–2014 relative to the Oregon side and relative to the pre-legalization years 2010–2012.
Researchers found that legalization “also increased consumption of marijuana and reduced consumption of other drugs and both ordinary and binge alcohol. ”
A new Gallup poll has found that 64% of adults in the United States support legalizing marijuana, up from 60% last year, and 50% in 2011.
This is this the highest level of support at the national level ever recorded by Gallup, which has been asking the question since 1969. It’s also the first time that a majority of Republicans support legalization (51%).
“It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing”, says Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. In the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works.”
Vermont’s full legislature has passed a bill to legalize marijuana, making them the first in U.S. history to do so.
Senate Bill 22, which has now been approved by both the House of Representatives and Senate, would legalize the possession and use of up to an ounce of cannabis for those 21 and older. It would also allow them to legally cultivate up to two mature, and four immature cannabis plants at a private residence. Although the measure doesn’t legalize cannabis retail outlets, it does establish a study commission to consider the regulation and taxation of marijuana for adult use.
Although there are eight states in the U.S. where cannabis is legal, passage of Senate Bill 22 marks the first time ever that a state’s legislature has approved a bill to legalize marijuana; all prior legalization laws were approved through voter-initiatives. The legislation will now be sent to the desk of Governor Phil Scott for consideration; Scott has the option of signing it into law, allowing it to become law without his signature, or vetoing it.
Companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Thursday would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and create a federal regulatory process for states that choose to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use.
Legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday that would end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
Bills filed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving states to determine their own marijuana policies, and impose federal regulations on marijuana businesses in states that choose to regulate marijuana for adult use. Wyden’s bill would also enact a federal excise tax on marijuana products. In the House, the tax is being proposed in a separate bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
Wyden and Blumenauer also filed marijuana policy “gap” bills that would eliminate many of the collateral consequences associated with federal marijuana convictions without removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012. Oregon and Alaska followed in 2014. In 2016, Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada joined the movement. Here’s a look at the five states most likely to be next, and by the end of next year.
Last year Vermont’s Senate became the first in U.S. history to approve a measure (Senate Bill 241) that would have fully legalized cannabis for those 21 and older. Despite also being supported by the state’s attorney general and governor at the time, it failed to pass the House.
However, proponents are taking up the issue again in 2017, with the added momentum of four additional states having legalized cannabis just a few months prior.
The state’s new Governor Phil Scott unfortunately doesn’t support legalization, but is at least open to the idea, saying “I can appreciate the discussion around ending the prohibition of marijuana.”
Voters favor legalizing the adult use of cannabis in the five states where the issue will appear on the ballot this Election Day. Here is a summary of the latest polling data.
ARIZONA: Half of Arizona voters intend to vote ‘yes’ in favor of Proposition 205: The Arizona Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act, according to an Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll. Forty percent of voters oppose the initiative. The Act allows adults age 21 and older to possess and to privately consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana (up to one ounce of marijuana flower, up to five grams of marijuana concentrate, and/or the harvest from up to six plants) and provides regulations for a retail cannabis marketplace.
CALIFORNIA: Numerous polls show strong support among Californians for Proposition 64: The Adult Use of Marijuana Act. In recent weeks, polling data compiled by the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Field Poll show the measure leading among voters by some 30 percentage points. Proposition 64 permits adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative language specifies that it is not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.”
MAINE: Fifty-three percent of voters support Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act, according to a September UNH Survey Center poll. Only 38 percent of respondents oppose it. The Act authorizes adults to obtain up to two and one-half ounces of cannabis from licensed facilities. Adults can also cultivate up to six plants and possess the harvest from those plants.
MASSACHUSETTS: Voters back Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act by a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent, according to polling data released last week by WBZ-TV. The ballot measure permits adults to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis and to grow up to six plants for non-commercial purposes. The measure also establishes regulations overseeing the commercial production and sale of the plant.
NEVADA: Question 2: The Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative leads among Nevada voters by a margin of 57 percent to 33 percent, according to Suffolk University polling data released last week. The initiative states, “The People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other businesses.”
For more information about these and other pending ballot initiatives, please see NORML’s Election 2016 page here.
While everyone is focused on the hype of the presidential election, the rest of us are waiting with baited breath for November 8th to see which states will take the step to legalize recreational or medical marijuana. There are a number of states that have marijuana legalization measures being voted on this November, as well as medical marijuana programs. Let’s look at the ballots we can look forward to.
Arizona votes for recreational use
Arizona is going to vote for Proposition 205, which, if passed, would legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana for those 21 and up. Legal-aged recreational users could possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their private residence. Marijuana sales would be taxed 15% and a new department, called the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, would be established.
The restrictions that come with Proposition 205 would include not being allowed to smoke or use marijuana in a public setting, prohibition on the use of it by those under the age of 21, and not being allowed to possess more than an ounce. Breaking these rules would result in a $300 fine and community service. Support Arizona with the legalization of recreational marijuana and vote yes at this link here.
Arkansas hesitates; medical or home grown
Arkansas has two initiatives on the line, but only one will be chosen. Both have to do with medical marijuana, and the one with the most votes (assuming they both are voted “yes” by a majority of the state’s voters) would be the one put into action.
The Medical Marijuana Amendment would not allow any home cultivation of the plant, while the Medical Cannabis Act would allow registered patients to grow. The Medical Cannabis Act would have all the tax revenue go back into the medical marijuana program, while the Medical Marijuana Act would divide it up among a variety of state funds. The Arkansas Department of Health would handle the rules and regulations in both cases, but for the Medical Marijuana Amendment, there would also be a Medical Marijuana Commission created. Vote yes n the Medical Cannabis act so patients can grow their own marijuana at home. Vote at this link here.
California legalizes recreational marijuana
Also known as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative is trying to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of California. At the moment, only medical marijuana is legal. This law, if passed, would establish a 15 percent sales tax and would also tax people who are cultivating their own marijuana. Support the Adult Use of Marijuana act at this link here.
Florida votes for medical marijuana
Florida has an initiated constitutional amendment on their ballot, called Amendment 2 or the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative that would legalize medical marijuana for people who have qualifying medical conditions. These conditions include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. It needs a whopping 60 percent of the vote to win because it’s a constitutional amendment. Florida currently only has a CBD law in place, meaning there is some access to low-THC marijuana in non-smokable form. Support Amendment 2 at this link here.
Maine might legalize recreational use
“Question 1,” officially called the Maine Marijuana Legalization Measure will be included on Maine’s ballot as an indirect initiated state statute. This one has everything to do with recreational marijuana. If the “yes” vote wins, adults age 21 and up will be allowed to consume and possess marijuana in Maine, and certain regulations and taxes will apply to those looking to grow their own marijuana. Support Maine at this link here.
Massachusetts citizens can grow marijuana
Massachusetts’ Question 4 will ask voters whether they want its law to look upon marijuana in a similar way to how it looks on alcohol. At the moment, only medical marijuana is allowed in Massachusetts. With a “yes” vote, people over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess, use, and grow marijuana — this means one ounce in public, and ten ounces in their private residence will be allowed. Six plants can be grown at a time as well. A tax would be added to retail marijuana, and the revenue would go back into the Marijuana Regulation Fund. Vote yes at this link to support Massachusetts.
Montana finally legalizes medical marijuana
Montana’s voters actually approved the Medical Marijuana Act I-148 in 2004, but it was repealed seven years later by the Montana State Legislature. This new vote, the Medical Marijuana Initiative I-182, would amend the 2011 decision and would also repeal the three-patient limit that currently exists for marijuana providers. Support Montana at this link.
Nevada votes for recreational use
Nevada is looking to legalize recreational marijuana this November with their initiative known as Question 2. If voters vote for it, Nevadans will be allowed to have up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use (as long as they are at least 21 years old). The revenue that taxes bring in will go to elementary education in Nevada. Vote yes and support Nevada at this link here.
North Dakota and medical marijuana
North Dakota’s Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (“Initiated Statutory Measure 5”) will allow the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, glaucoma, and epilepsy, among others. It will also pave the way for the state to define regulations regarding cultivation, dispensation, and use of medical marijuana in general. Patients would require a special identification card with their details to receive and use medical marijuana. Help North Dakota legalize medical marijuana by clicking this link.
In just two and a half months, five states – 10% of the entire U.S. – will be voting to legalize recreational cannabis for everyone 21 and older. An additional four states will be voting for legalizing medical cannabis, making almost 20% of the U.S. voting on some for of cannabis legalization.
Having five states vote for legalization in one election is a huge deal, considering it’s taken over 70 years to get where we are now; four states with legal cannabis. Below is a breakdown of the recreational legalization measures being voted on this November 8th (less than three months):
Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan last week certified a marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot, setting the stage for a national election that will see the issue go directly to the voters in five states, including California, the nation’s most populous.
Four states have already legalized marijuana at the ballot box, Colorado and Washington in 2012 and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana—but not commercial sales—in 2014.
But those states combined only have a population of about 17 million people. Winning California alone would more than double that figure and winning all five states would triple it. If all five states vote for pot, we could wake up on November 9 with nearly a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization.
This is going to be a transformative year for the United States. Not only are we set to vote in a new president for the first time in eight years this November, but we could also see the most rapid expansion of marijuana ever, with eight states now set to vote on recreational or medical cannabis initiatives or amendments this fall.
What’s at stake
The expansion of the cannabis industry was initially put in motion 20 years ago when California approved a compassionate use law for medical marijuana. Today, half of all U.S. states have approved a medical marijuana law. The two most recent approvals came from Pennsylvania and Ohio, which used the legislative process to pass medical cannabis laws.