The general election last week showed great strides for all in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana. Arizona, Montana, Mississippi, New Jersey and South Dakota all voted for the legalization and taxation of marijuana.
New Jersey, Arizona and Montana voted to legalize recreational use of cannabis while Mississippi voted for the legalization of medicinal marijuana use. South Dakota voted for both recreational and medicinal use in the same election.
Now, 35 states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana; 14 states and D.C. now allow recreational use while 20 states allow medical use only. Possession laws and cultivation standards vary from state to state.
A study done by the Pew Research Center shows that two-thirds of Americans believe weed should be legalized either recreationally or medically.
“In addition to asking respondents about whether marijuana use should be legal in general, the Center asked a separate group of respondents about legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use,” said Andrew Daniller of the Pew Research Center. “Nearly six-in-ten Americans, 59 percent, favor legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, while another 32% say it should be legal for medical use only. Only 8 percent say it should not be legal.”
The votes made in favor of legalizing marijuana last week reflect that the nation may be warming up to the traditionally taboo plant.
“Money is an undercurrent everywhere, as many state budgets face big shortfalls as a result of the drop-off in consumer spending during the pandemic, forcing a search for alternative tax sources,” said New York Times writer Kirk Johnson in his article, In the Pandemic, a Shifting Ballot Debate on Legalizing Drugs.
The lack of revenue is especially visible in states like Montana. With so much of its tourism revenue taken by the pandemic, it needs a different tax income to stay consistent. The general election showed that Montanan voters, who are predominantly Republican, saw weed taxation as a good alternative.
In addition to the states that legalized marijuana use and business, Oregon voted to decriminalize the possession of small doses of “heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone, and a few other hard drugs,” according to The Associated Press.
The changes in legalization will undoubtedly affect revenues and the war on drugs in the United States. The future of legalization cannot be predicted but continues to persist.