Ariz., N.J., S.D., Mont. Legalize Marijuana: 1 in 3 Americans Now Live in State Where It’s Legal

Voters in four states — Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota — approved ballot measures that legalized recreational marijuana use.

With the passage of these ballot measures, one in three Americans now live in a state where it is legal to use recreational marijuana, Politico reported. Eleven states and the District of Columbia had already completely legalized the drug, while another 27 have either allowed medical use or decriminalized marijuana possession.

On Tuesday, Mississippi voters also approved a ballot measure to create a medical marijuana program for people with debilitating conditions. And in Oregon, which had already legalized marijuana use in 2014, voters agreed to decriminalize small amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other hard drugs. Anyone found possessing these harder drugs will be given a violation, similar to a traffic ticket, rather than jail time.

The Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota state legislatures will now be responsible for drafting and passing a bill on how to execute the new policy, while it will be up to the Department of Health Services in Arizona, ABC News reported.

Purchasing marijuana in Montana will carry a 20 percent tax, and the Montana Office of Budget and Program Planning has estimated that legalizing marijuana could create about $38.5 million in revenue for the state by 2025, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

The decisive victories for marijuana advocates in these states, especially traditionally conservative ones like Montana and South Dakota, are promising signs that marijuana use could be legalized and decriminalized nationwide.

“Today, New Jerseyans spoke with a unified voice with a clear message: the time of cannabis prohibition must end,” ACLU New Jersey Executive Director Amol Sinha said in a statement. “… Unjust racial disparities have for decades defined enforcement of marijuana laws, and we must make sure that we now do everything in our power to ensure that racial justice defines legalization.”

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