As of right now, marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. However, more and more states are choosing to make it legal – either for medicinal or recreational purposes. In the most recent election, five states have decided to vote on making it legal.
Arizona already allows medical cannabis. However, more people want access to it. And, those who were once convicted of cannabis possession want their records expunged.
So, Proposition 207 was created, which will legalize the consumption for those 21 and over and allow adults to grow cannabis plants at their home. The votes showed that the majority of residents were in favor of this happening.
Mississippi has been looking to enter the game by addressing medical cannabis. Initiative 65 would allow doctors to recommend it for one of 22 qualifying conditions and place a 7% sales tax on it.
Initiative 65A would limit the use of medical cannabis to those with terminal illnesses. Nearly three-quarters of the voters were in favor of Initiative 65.
Montana has allowed medical cannabis since 2004. Now, they’re fighting for Initiative 190, which would not only legalize recreational cannabis but add a 20% sales tax to it. Initiative 118 would allow for a legal age to be established, which many believe would be 21. Both measures were approved by voters.
New Jersey has been fighting for the recreational use of cannabis for a while. Medical cannabis has been in place since 2010. There’s been a lot of resistance by the governors, so a public question was placed on the ballot to find out if people would approve an amendment to the Constitution to legalize cannabis. An astounding number of people said yes, they would want to legalize it.
South Dakota also wants to get in the game, though they’re taking an unconventional approach. Rather than starting with medical marijuana and adding recreational a few years later, they decided to jump in by trying to approve both.
Measure 26 would legalize cannabis for medical purposes while Amendment A would allow it recreationally for all adults. The results were close, but the majority of voters were in favor of both.
So, what does all of this mean?
It looks as though a lot more people around the country will have the ability to use marijuana recreationally. It could also mean a lot more tax money coming into states since most are choosing to add a relatively hefty sales tax to marijuana that will be used recreationally.
There are a few issues, still.
The states can choose to vote on this as much as they want. It still remains illegal on the federal level.
Until the federal government chooses to legalize marijuana, dispensaries aren’t able to use banks since they’re controlled on a federal level. To do so could risk being charged with aiding and abetting a federal crime or even money laundering.
Additionally, it can be difficult for dispensaries to accept credit cards for the same reason – federal law makes the sale of marijuana illegal.
There are going to be certain things that a person cannot do with cannabis regardless of it being legal in their state. This includes possessing (or using) marijuana on federal property, growing on public lands, and distributing to minors.
Various federal laws could kick in so that the crimes are severe. This is why it’s critical for anyone who decides to purchase medicinal or recreational marijuana to understand that it may be legal in their state but that it doesn’t give them carte blanche rights everywhere they go.
As for cannabis becoming legal on a federal law anytime in the near future, the House just recently passed legislation – though it will likely get hung up again in the Senate for as long as the GOP maintains the majority.
Will that change as majorities shift? Absolutely. Until then, everyone will have to use cautiously knowing that they’re going against federal law.