Recreational marijuana has now been legalized in three additional states: California, Massachusetts and Nevada. On Tuesday, voters in those states Tuesday approved ballot referenda making the drug legal for residents 21 and older. And voters in four more states — Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota — approved referenda making medical marijuana legal.
Voters in Arizona rejected a measure that would have legalized recreational pot.
The historic measures bring the total number of states where recreational pot is legal to seven, joining Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado. The drug is also legal in the District of Columbia. More than 20 states have now legalized medical marijuana.
California voters' approval makes the state the largest market for cannabis, just four years after voters rejected a similar measure.
“We are very excited that citizens of California voted to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition," Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, told the Los Angeles Times. "Proposition 64 will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of cannabis innovation, research and development.”
Up to now, only Western states had legalized marijuana. Massachusetts is the first state to approve it on the East Coast.
“Massachusetts has taken an historic step forward by ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project told the Boston Globe. “Voters chose to control marijuana rather than to continue forcing it into the underground market. Hopefully, Massachusetts will establish a system that can serve as an example for neighboring states, and others around the country.”
Maine also voted Tuesday on a measure to legalize marijuana, but the results were so close that a final outcome has not yet been determined, the Portland Press-Herald reported. More than 4,000 absentee ballots are currently being hand-counted by the secretary of state's office. It is believed that those votes will determine whether Maine becomes the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana.