California’s referendum to legalize marijuana in the world’s sixth-largest economy passed Tuesday night. So did voter measures in Massachusetts and Nevada. Maine’s referendum was still being counted early Wednesday morning, and Arizona’s was poised to lose. Three other states passed medical marijuana reforms, and a fourth appeared likely to do so. This means that in eight states (plus Washington, D.C.) weed will be legal for recreational purposes, and in sum, 28 will have some kind of legalization on the books.
It’s a good thing that a large chunk of America will soon be able toke up at their leisure, because for the next four years, we are really going to need it.
The conventional wisdom about the 2016 ballot measures was that their approval would make federal legalization truly inevitable—millions of Americans are already using marijuana within the letter of state law. This has created a $6 billion industry, and those figures are only likely to continue to multiply. While the Obama administration has continued to go after some growers and sellers, it has largely allowed state legalization to take its course. The state policies certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re ultimately good and just: Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of marijuana-possession arrests every year, and they disproportionately affect (read: ruin the lives of) poor minorities. Treating marijuana more like alcohol and less like heroin changes that.
Of course, now all that could go up in smoke. If it wanted to, a Trump administration could undo the progress marijuana regulation has made in an instant. As one reform advocate told the Washington Post: “The prospect of Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie as attorney general does not bode well.” Sure doesn’t! But what policy implication of a Trump presidency does?
Someone pass me some of the strong stuff.