Between the presidential election, governors’ races, and down-ballot contests, this year’s election features a lot of important choices. Among those, voters in five states will have a chance to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical uses.
In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters could legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. In Mississippi and South Dakota (in a ballot initiative separate from the full legalization measure), voters could also legalize medical marijuana.
If all these measures are approved, the United States would go from having 11 states in which marijuana is legal to 15. Counting by population, that would mean more than a third of Americans would live in a state with legalized marijuana, up from more than a quarter today.
The ballot initiatives represent a massive shift in drug policy. A decade ago, zero states had legalized marijuana. Then, in 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational use and sales.
Despite the success of state measures, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. But since President Barack Obama’s administration, the federal government has generally taken a hands-off approach to states’ marijuana initiatives. [Read more at Vox]