Though this recent election undoubtedly caused untold anxiety to many Americans, several states legalized recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.
This election cycle has been unique in many ways, in part because the two most unpopular candidates in American history battled for the privilege of being “figurehead-in-chief” of the US establishment. This electoral contest brought untold anxiety upon many Americans while also dividing friends and family. Despite the divisiveness that is sure to cause tempers to continue to flare over the next few weeks, some states have reason to celebrate. Marijuana initiatives were on the ballot in nine states. Voters in Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and Arkansas voted on medical marijuana while California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Maine voted on the recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21.
Almost all of these initiatives passed except for Arizona, where pharmaceutical companies donated insane amounts of money to keep marijuana use illegal in the state. Pharmaceutical companies and their political allies have led the charge to prevent the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use. This is largely because marijuana naturally treats a slew of serious conditions and illnesses, impacting these corporations’ abilities to garner profits on their patented and often very costly synthetic alternatives.
The situation in Maine, however, has still not been put to rest. It appears that recreational marijuana appears to have passed by a slim margin of 50.2% to 49.8% with 95% of precincts reporting. However, the race still has not been called, largely because of the efforts of Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, who has worked tirelessly to keep marijuana’s recreational use illegal, saying that it could be “deadly” for the state. The opposition to marijuana legalization in Maine was also led by law enforcement groups, as well as the state’s attorney general. It’s no secret that police departments benefit monetarily from marijuana’s illegal status as the practice of civil asset forfeiture allows police to take people’s property and money if they are caught with marijuana. Marijuana arrests also help private prison companies by keeping private prisons at or over capacity.
That’s why the passage of almost all these marijuana initiatives is the “silver lining” of last night’s election. Prior to last night, only five percent of US citizens had access to legal marijuana. That number has now jumped to over 20%, showing that the US is finally reaching the tipping point in putting an end to wasteful and unjust “War on Drugs,” which has wasted over a trillion dollar and led to the incarceration of tens of millions – all over the possession of a plant. Even though neither major party candidate running in yesterday’s election supports the legalization of marijuana, the people have spoken – showing that good things happen when Americans think and vote beyond the left/right paradigm.
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