Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada Approve Recreational Use of Marijuana

CNN/ Newswire | 11/9/2016, 9:25 a.m.
Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada have decided that marijuana should be legal to use recreationally, CNN projects.
Marijuana Allie Beckett

By Jen Christensen


(CNN) -- Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada have decided that marijuana should be legal to use recreationally, CNN projects.

On election day, voters in five states were asked to decide whether the recreational use of marijuana should be legalized and so far, three have said yes. Official results have yet to come in for Maine and Arizona.

Four other states voted whether marijuana should be used for medical reasons. So far, people in Florida and North Dakota have voted yes, according to their election results websites.

The number of adults who have smoked weed has nearly doubled in three years, according to a Gallup poll released in August.

It is the No. 1 illicit drug of choice for Americans, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use, although only one-third of users reported an addiction to the substance, unlike most all the other illicit drugs used.

Prior to the vote, it was legal to use recreational marijuana only in four states and in the District of Columbia. Colorado and Washington state voted to OK it in 2012. Alaska and Oregon voters approved it in 2014.

Medical marijuana is legal in half of US states and was on state ballots this year in Montana, Florida and North Dakota. It was on the ballot in Arkansas with two initiatives, but the results won't count for one of them, after the state Supreme Court struck the issue in October, due to invalid signatures.

For the states where recreational use is legal, it seems to have been a boost to the economy. The marijuana industry created more than 18,000 full-time jobs last year and generated $2.39 billion in economic activity in Colorado, according to an analysis from the Marijuana Policy Group.

There have also been some health consequences. Emergency rooms have seen a significant increase in adult marijuana-related exposure cases.

The number of calls to poison control centers involving Colorado children has gone up, as has the number of children who've been taken to the hospital for treatment due to unintentional marijuana exposure, studies show. There have also been more school suspensions, marijuana-related traffic deaths, pet poisonings and lab explosions.

Here's what was chosen at the polls.

California: Approved

The people of California voted to make the recreational use of marijuana legal.

Being the country's most populous state and the world's sixth-largest economy, the decision could have the biggest impact on the national scene.

In 1996, the state was the first to make medical marijuana legal.

The "yes" on Proposition 64 will now make it legal for people 21 or older to use it recreationally. There would be a 15% sales tax, and its cultivation will be taxed. The money will be used in part to study drug research, to study treatment and to help with enforcement of the law.

The state's two largest newspapers backed the measure, as did the California Democratic Party, while Republicans were against it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the Los Angeles Times Friday that she planned to vote in favor of it. That makes Pelosi the highest-ranking, sitting elected official in either political party to support legalizing a drug the federal government currently considers a Schedule 1 narcotic. A Schedule 1 narcotic is a drug with no currently accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. The category also includes heroin.