Calif., Mass., Maine., Nev. and Fla. pass legalization laws
Ben Mehic, Managing News Editor
643,121 people were thrown behind bars for marijuana law violations in 2015, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. The results of Election Day could alter the lives of those who support marijuana legalization – at least in some capacity – forever.
On Nov. 8, nearly 20 percent of states made decisions on policy regarding marijuana. The legalization of recreational marijuana was on the ballot in five states – California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona and Nevada. Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota decided whether or not to allow the drug’s use for medical reasons.
The outcome of the election, specifically in California, could set the stage for the drug’s future in the United States, according to Associate Professor of Government and Politics Luke Perry. He believes that federal legislation could follow the states that legalize recreational marijuana.
While some support the drug’s legalization for social purposes, government officials that lean towards legalizing the drug are more in-tune with the economic factors. According to Colorado’s Department of Revenue, marijuana reached $700 million in sales last year.
“Some states are strapped for money and it led to both parties looking at this more as an economic issue than another type of issue,” Perry said.
New York’s adoption of the policy has been moderate, according to Perry, with the state only allowing the drug’s usage in a very limited capacity. Perry believes that Governor Andrew Cuomo could run for president one day and calculated what could fill out his portfolio. So far, legalizing marijuana in all capacities hasn’t been a priority for the New York leader.
Dorian Orellano, a senior, said he was disappointed that New York hasn’t pushed the drug’s legalization.
“It’s interesting that it’s on most ballots, but it’s a shame that New York’s marijuana laws are so limited,” Orellano said. “It’s something that creates issues in society that aren’t necessary. To throw people in jail, it wastes resources and ruins people’s lives over something that grows in the ground.”
Cooper Deck, a sophomore, said that he knows several people who smoke marijuana on a regular basis and don’t fit the stereotypical idea associated with the drug.
“It’s extremely important and it’s a huge problem that some states still haven’t decriminalized it,” Deck said. “There’s people rotting in jail because they’ve smoked weed. It’s ridiculous.”
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