December 14, 2016

The 2016 Election marked major gains in the movement for recreational marijuana legalization, scoring victories in California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada. California led the way by a 12-point margin, as over 5 million people voted “yes” in the Golden State. The only loss on Election Night was in Arizona, where the effort lost by 4 points.

Another bright spot was the approval of medical marijuana initiatives in four states: Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana, as well as Florida, where voters approved medical marijuana by a staggering margin of 3,881,943 votes.

The DKT Liberty project is proud to have helped support these initiatives.

Here are the vote totals:

Arkansas: Medical marijuana
53.0% Yes (582,076)
46.9% No (514,363)

Arizona: Recreational marijuana
51.9%   No  (1,061,378)
48.0%   Yes   (981,509)

California: Recreational marijuana
56.0%   Yes    (5,059,136)
43.9%    No    (3,964,378)

Florida: Medical marijuana
71.2%   Yes    (6,498,859)
28.7%   No     (2,616,916)

Massachusetts: Recreational marijuana
53.5%    Yes     (1,745,945)
46.4%    No      (1,513,304)

Maine: Recreational marijuana
50.1%    Yes      (378,288)
49.8%    No       (375,668)

Montana: Medical marijuana
57.6%    Yes     (284,530)
42.3%    No      (209,137)

North Dakota: Medical marijuana
63.7%     Yes    (215,420)
36.2%      No    (122,233)

Nevada: Recreational marijuana
54.4%     Yes      (602,400)
45.5%     No       (503,615)

The victory for full legalization in California was a game-changer for the nation. Historically, California has often led the way in policy changes. Ethan Nadelman who heads the Drug Policy Alliance said: “The California initiative, with its extensive sentencing reform and other social justice components, its sophisticated licensing, public health, and tax revenue allocation provisions, its endorsements by the statewide medical and nurses associations as well as environmental and civil rights groups and more, will represent the new gold standard for how to legalize marijuana responsibly.”

Now, citizens who potentially faced years in jail are sometimes facing days. Omar Figueroa, a Sebastopol attorney specializing in cannabis, said one of his clients was looking at up to nearly five years in prison for felony transporting of pot and possession for sale, as well as a related probation violation. After Prop. 64, Figueroa said Sonoma County prosecutors agreed to an infraction charge, with no jail and no probation.

Commenting on the election results, Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project said: “Most voters do not think otherwise law-abiding citizens should be criminalized for using a product that is much safer than alcohol. They want marijuana to be sold inside regulated, taxpaying businesses, not on the streets, where sales enrich cartels and drug dealers. There is a general consensus that law enforcement should be fighting serious crimes rather than enforcing failed and deeply unpopular policies.”

As a result of this election, 21% of US Citizens–68,042,000 people– now live where marijuana is legal. The latest Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans favor legalization of recreational marijuana. Twenty-eight states plus the District of Columbia now permit medical marijuana. A CBS News Poll shows 84% of Americans favor legalization of medical marijuana.

The DKT Liberty Project will continue to support marijuana legalization as part of its efforts to end the government’s effort to “win” an unwinnable war against substances which themselves do far less harm than the efforts to suppress them.