USA TODAY - Voters across the country are deciding today whether to relax long-standing marijuana prohibitions for both medical and recreational use, a potentially dramatic expansion of legal pot across America.
About 60 million Americans live in states that are considering allowing recreational marijuana, and another 24 million Americans could find themselves in states with newly legal medical marijuana use, a smaller but still significant expansion of legalized pot around the United States. Already, half of the states permit some form of medical marijuana use, and more than half of all Americans live in a state that has approved medical marijuana. Four states — Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, plus the District of Columbia — have already legalized recreational marijuana
Today, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are considering legalizing recreational marijuana. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are asking voters whether to permit medical use for certain conditions, like cancer or chronic pain. None of those votes will change the federal ban on marijuana use, although legalization advocates say it may further pressure Congress, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FDA to act.
Lawmakers see marijuana taxes as a source of new revenue to close budget gaps, while entrepreneurs are considering the business case, with potentially billions of dollars in profits possible from this fast-growing Made-In-America industry.
Here’s a quick guide to the measures, listed first by recreational and then by medical.
Recreational marijuana proposals
What would California’s marijuana law do?
The California plan, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act or Prop. 64, allows residents to grow up to six plants at home and gives municipalities the power to allow or ban outdoor grows and marijuana stores. It requires commercial growers to comply with environmental regulations — many illegal growers today ignore laws governing water, pesticide and fertilizer use — and gives existing medical-marijuana providers a head start in getting business licenses. The measure also maintains existing prohibitions on youth use and driving while high. Critics worry it will open up television advertising to marijuana companies and goes too far in permitting people previously convicted of violent drug offenses to join the industry. Medical marijuana is widely available in California.
What would Arizona’s marijuana law do?
Prop. 205 would legalize adult recreational marijuana use, cultivation and sales, with a 15% sales tax to fund new state regulation, enforcement and education efforts. Medical marijuana is legal already in Arizona, and the recreational plan backed by the group “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol” expands use to adults 21 and older. The proposal would allow people to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants, and creates a state-regulated system of commercial growers and retailers.
What would Maine’s marijuana law do?
The ballot measure expands the state’s well-regarded medical marijuana program to recreational use, but it also permits the creation of “marijuana social clubs,” where people would be able to consume marijuana. Critics worry that Question 1 might increase the amount of impaired driving, in the way that bars can lead to more drunken drivers on the road.
There’s also concern that the measure requires marijuana-focused publications to be sold from behind store counters, a proposal that was struck down as unconstitutional in Colorado. Gov.
What would the Massachusetts marijuana law do?
Question 4 allows adults to grow up to six plants, possess 10 ounces of marijuana at home, and posses up to an ounce in public, although public consumption remains illegal. Gov.
What would Nevada’s marijuana law do?
Question 2 permits the personal possession of one ounce or less of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce or less of concentrated marijuana for individuals 21 years of age or older. Adults 21 and older could grow up to six plants for personal use if they live more than 25 miles away from a commercial marijuana store, but otherwise would be required to buy taxed and regulated cannabis. Nevada’s program would be open to anyone visiting the state, and supporters say the tourist-heavy market could be worth $390 million, with up to $1.1 billion in economic impact. Medical dispensaries would be granted an 18-month monopoly on recreational sales, and alcohol distributors would also have an 18-month monopoly on distribution.
Medical marijuana proposals
What would Arkansas’ marijuana law do?
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 legalizes medical use for certain specified conditions, including cancer, glaucoma and fibromyalgia, and requires a doctor’s recommendation. The law would permit at least 20 and up to 40 medical marijuana dispensaries, although cities and towns could ban them if they want. Taxes paid by buyers would fund regulation of the medical marijuana industry, and home-growing would remain illegal — all marijuana would have to be grown at a state-licensed cultivation facility.
What would Florida’s marijuana law do?
Amendment 2 permits the use of medical cannabis for specific conditions, including cancer,
Montana’s voters approved medical marijuana in 2004, but the state legislature changed the law to significantly curtail it. The new plan, Initiative 182, allows doctors to recommend marijuana use for specific conditions, including chronic pain or PTSD. Also known as the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, the plan permits the creation of medical marijuana cultivation facilities and bans law enforcement from conducting surprise inspections of them.
What would North Dakota’s marijuana law do?
Initiated Statutory Measure 5 permits the use of medical marijuana for specific conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma, and would be overseen by state health regulators. People living more than 40 miles from a state-registered medical marijuana cultivation facility would be permitted to grow their own, and patients could have up to three ounces at a time.
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