ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Marijuana was on the ballot in four states this week, and voters in three of those states said “yes” to legalized cannabis use, USA Today reports.
On Tuesday, Michigan became the first Midwestern state and the 10th state overall to legalize recreational marijuana. The initiative created a system to regulate, tax and sell recreational marijuana to adults in the state.
Missouri voters also legalized growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. The measure that passed will tax marijuana sales at 4%, with the proceeds funding health care programs for veterans.
Under the new Missouri law, qualified patients who have approval from their doctors will receive identification cards from the state that allows them and their registered caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants and purchase at least four ounces of cannabis from dispensaries on a monthly basis. Physicians may recommend medical cannabis for any condition they choose, and state regulators will issue licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as cultivation, testing and infused product manufacturing businesses.
Utah became the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana use. The state has a complicated relationship with marijuana use because more than 60% of Utah residents are members of the hugely influential Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches followers to refrain from alcohol, coffee, tobacco and illegal drugs.
In North Dakota, voters rejected a proposal that would have established the most permissive recreational marijuana law in the nation. Measure 3, as it was dubbed, would have allowed residents to grow, consume and possess as much weed as they want, without any government oversight.
These ballot measures come at a time when the majority of U.S. states have already embraced some form of legalized pot. Nine states permit recreational marijuana use, along with the District of Columbia, and 29 states, along with D.C., permit some form of medical marijuana use.
Cannabis is still illegal under the federal government’s Controlled Substances Act, which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational; however, the laws are generally applied only against persons who possess, cultivate or distribute large quantities of cannabis.
“The victory in Michigan powerfully demonstrates the national reach of this movement,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “With such overwhelming public support for marijuana legalization, even including majorities of Republicans and older Americans, there’s only so long that the federal government can continue to hold out.”