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Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada legalized REC. About 25 percent of Americans now live in states that have legalized marijuana for adult use.

The results will put unprecedented pressure on the federal government to reform cannabis laws. As President Obama said in a recent interview with comedian Bill Maher, multiple states legalizing could make the federal prohibition “ untenable.”

In a night that was a stunning repudiation of the pollsters' art, the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots performed more or less as predicted. So far, of the five states that voted on REC, only Arizona, which has a thriving MED market, rejected it, by about four points. As of this writing, with 94% of votes in, Maine’s REC initiative appears to have the lead in a very close race.

All four states voting on MED approved it. In Florida, voters legalized MED with 71% in favor. In Arkansas, a MED initiative has a comfortable lead with most precincts reporting. North Dakota’s MED initiative passed with about 64% of the vote and Montana’s Initiative to expand MED access also passed comfortably.

Each of the MED states also voted for Donald Trump, who is now president-elect.

Trump is a teetotaler who claims to have never drank or used drugs. He has been consistent in his support for MED, and somewhat less consistent, in his support for states’ rights to regulate the plant as they choose.

Most directly worrisome to the cannabis world is that Trump has surrounded himself with anti-drug hardliners, who are out of step with the country’s, and the Republican Party’s, gradual acceptance of the plant.

Vice-president elect Mike Pence has voted to escalate the war on drugs in Mexico and in 2014, called for tougher sentences for possession, “I think we need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties,” he said.

Trump’s closeness to Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who was the only major Republican candidate to vocally endorse federal marijuana prohibition was also a source of alarm in the marijuana world.

Of late, Christie has been sidelined due to the “ Bridgegate” trial in which two of his former aides were convicted, and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and prosecutor, has emerged as another candidate for attorney general. The last time Giuliani’s position on marijuana has been through much scrutiny was in 2007 during his short-lived presidential campaign. "I believe the effort to try and make marijuana available for medical uses is really a way to legalize it,” he said at the time. “ There's no reason for it."

Throughout the campaign, neither Donald Trump nor Hilary Clinton wanted to talk much about pot, but Trump’s election creates the possibility of tensions between a newly emboldened industry and an administration filled with anti-drug hawks. Whether this stand-off will transpire, and what forms it could take, is anyone’s guess.

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Arizona already has a thriving MED market, with about 100,000 users allowed to access the drug, but the opposition had strong support from the state’s Republican establishment, as well as business interests. Opponents included an organization representing the alcohol industry and Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company which sells a powerful opiate painkiller and is developing cannabinoid drugs.


Ballotpedia page

Issue 6, which was less permissive than a 2012 ballot measure and another which almost reached the ballot this year, appears to have a safe lead. State surgeon general Dr. Greg Bledsoe, who opposed MED said he would immediately move to responsibly support the will of the people.


Ballotpedia page

Twenty years after California became the first state to legalize MED, Proposition 64 passed with 56% of the vote. The state now faces the challenge of regulating its multi-faceted and freewheeling industry, which has deep roots in the illegal market.

The initiative had support from the state’s Democratic party establishment, most major newspapers, and billionaires like financier George Soros and Napster founder Sean Parker. Opponents included law enforcement groups and some cannabis professionals who feel the law is overly friendly to big business.

Former Congressman and anti-legalization activist Patrick Kennedy said, “We will continue to hold this industry accountable, and raise the serious public health and safety issues that will certainly come in the wake of legalization,”


Ballotpedia page

Voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2 allowing the state to create a medical marijuana industry. While its exact form isn’t clear, Florida is expected to be more permissive than northeast states like New York that have legalized MED but not in smokeable form and only for a limited number of patients.

As a constitutional amendment, the vote required 60% to pass. A similar measure failed in 2014 with 58% of the vote.


Ballotpedia page

Opponents have not given up hope of defeating Question 1, even as it appears to lead with more than 90% of precincts reporting. Maine initially legalized MED in 1999.


The Commonwealth became the first state on the east coast to legalize REC, despite opposition from the state’s most prominent politicians, both Democrats and Republicans. Dispensaries could open as soon as January 2018.


Ballotpedia page

Montanans initially voted for MED in 2004, but early in this decade the state legislature created constraints that made it difficult for providers to operate – they were limited to three customers-- and for many patients to access MED in the vast state. The new restrictions survived court battles and were taking effect just as I-182 passed, creating a more feasible framework for an industry.


The state legalized REC with more than 54% of the vote. While Nevada is a small state by population, those in the industry believe Las Vegas will present a chance for visiting tourists to acclimate themselves to legal pot.

Question 2 overcame opposition from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who also contributed to the opposition in Florida and Massachusetts. It also won despite objections from the trade groups representing Nevada’s largest resort casinos, though in a statement, the group cited possible objections from the state casino licensing body about a federally illegal industry, not problems with the substance itself.

North Dakota

Ballotpedia page

Statuatory Measure 5 legalized MED with 63% of the vote, just short of Donald Trump’s total in the conservative state.


It looks like the proposed REC business bans in Pueblo, the Colorado industry’s secondary hub, failed. I wrote about the situation for the L.A. Times.

There were numerous local votes in Oregon on the industry’s status in communities. See the results here.

WeedWeek is looking for a critic to write short product reviews. For more info, see here.

Now, a personal announcement: I’ll soon be moving to L.A. to focus my reporting on the world’s largest legal market. WeedWeek will continue to include developments from everywhere they occur.

Here's the WeedWeek list of pot journalists on Twitter and the new list of cannabusiness people on Twitter. Both are works in progress. Recommendations welcome.

Want to reach a devoted audience of top cannabis professionals? Advertise in WeedWeek. Contact Adrienne Nascimento at  for details. 



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