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Marijuana reform went 8 for 9 on the ballot; is it at a tipping point?

in Peter by

After marijuana amendments passed in eight of the nine states where it was on the ballot Tuesday, now nearly a quarter of all Americans live in states where recreational use of marijuana is legal.

Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved recreational marijuana amendments last week, giving nearly 50 million more Americans the right to use marijuana.

Additionally, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota voted in favor of medical marijuana amendments, while Montana residents voted to roll back restrictions on their medical marijuana laws put in place by their state Legislature.

Arizona was the only state where marijuana failed on the ballot in 2016. The southwestern state already has medical marijuana laws on the books, but voters shot down a measure to legalize recreational use.

Once these amendments go into effect, eight states will have fully legalized marijuana, including the whole of the west coast, while 28 states and the District of Columbia will have legalized medical marijuana.

Marijuana’s ballot success this year could have pushed the drug past the tipping point when it comes to how the federal government enforces drug laws.

The new amendments also will mean an additional 68 members of the U.S. House of Representatives will come from states where recreational marijuana is legal, 53 from California alone.

President Barack Obama said the swing toward marijuana legalization — both for medical and recreational use — may make strict drug policies untenable for federal law enforcement agencies.

“You’ll now have a fifth of the country that’s operating under one set of laws and four-fifths in another,” he said in an interview with Bill Maher. “The Justice Department, DEA, FBI, for them to try to straddle and figure out how they’re supposed to enforce laws in some places and not in others … that is not going to be tenable.”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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