Now that Election Day has come, the nation's supporters of legalized marijuana surely have new questions on their minds. California was one of the states where the question of whether to legalize recreational use of the drug was on the ballot. Now that it's been legalized in the state by vote, you can legally possess a certain amount of weed in California.
The measure stated that adults over 21 could posses up to an ounce of the stuff, and people would be allowed to grow up to six plants. For those who supported the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative and other similar ballot initiatives across the country, this is a major success.
California has long been a pot-friendly state, as they were the first ones to pass a law allowing marijuana for medical purposes in 1996. Since then, the state tried to legalize pot for recreational purposes once in 2010, but the initiative failed by seven percentage points. This year, however, the proposal had broader support, and since 2010 voters have watched as four other states (Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon) legalized marijuana without having the sky fall down on top of them. The strongest arguments in favor of the initiative were the potential $1 billion in increased tax revenue and the huge expected decrease in public safety costs, as possessing the drug would no longer be a criminal offense.
California was not the only state to bring this question to the people this year. It was in fact only one of eight, and many hailed this election as a huge potential win for proponents of legal marijuana. As of Tuesday evening, results from Massachusetts, Arizona, Maine, and Nevada were too close to confirm. If recreational use of the drug is legalized in those states, however, it would mark a significant turning point in the battle to legalize pot for recreational use nationwide.
There was clearly a lot of popular support for this measure, with about 600,000 signatures originally supporting the proposal and polls in the weeks leading up to Election Day pointing to a victory for the "yes" campaign. An LA Times poll on marijuana legalization found that 58 percent of people supported it, as opposed to only 34 percent who were against it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, young people surveyed among that number were the most in favor of the measure, with 67 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 saying that they would vote for legalization. Even just levels of support like that shows that something is afoot, and perhaps California's steps will trigger an avalanche of support for marijuana legalization in the coming years.