'While Democrats and Republicans went toe-to-toe for control of Congress, voters across three states voted to relax marijuana laws, resulting in a huge victory for the grassroots decriminalization and legalization movement.
With medical marijuana already legal in Michigan for several years, voters passed a ballot proposal on Tuesday to legalize recreational marijuana possession with 55 percent in favor of the measure. The measure made Michigan the first Midwestern state, and the tenth state within the U.S., to legalize recreational cannabis.
Efforts in Michigan paid off thanks to a group called Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Although the measure passed by a relatively wide margin, legalization faced stiff opposition from a group known as Healthy and Productive Michigan which seeks to push local municipalities to prohibit sales by focusing on the federal ban on cannabis.
The new laws, which are set to take effect in roughly ten days, allow Michigan residents 21 and over to possess, use, buy, and grow marijuana. The next step in terms of organizational efforts will focus on expunging the criminal records of anyone with non-violent marijuana possession charges. Between 20,000 and 24,550 people are arrested on marijuana-related charges in Michigan each year, with charges disproportionately targeting young black males.
Missouri and surprisingly Utah also passed cannabis-friendly ballot measures on Tuesday.
Missouri residents endorsed Amendment 2, which favors the cultivation of medical marijuana which would result in a 4% tax on all transactions. Unlike Michigan, Missouri faced relatively no opposition.
Key legislators in Utah reportedly planned to pass medical marijuana legislation regardless of Tuesday’s results thanks to overwhelming support from the Mormon church.
Unfortunately, North Dakota’s Measure 3 didn’t win over enough voters to pass, with nearly 60% voting against legalization legislation similar to Michigan’s. Measure 3 also would have expunged the records of citizens charged with non-violent marijuana offenses.'
Read more: Despite Big Pharma’s Heavy Lobbying, Cannabis Legalization Efforts in US Make New Gains
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