California, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, giving a huge boost to the campaign to allow pot nationwide. Six more states also voted on marijuana measures.
Overall, the results were hailed as historic by legalization activists, given that California is the most populous state. Massachusetts became the first state east of the Rockies to join the movement.
Voters in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota approved measures allowing marijuana use for medical purposes. Montanans voted on whether to ease restrictions on an existing medical marijuana law.
Florida, where the pot measure was backed by 71 percent of the voters, and Arkansas became the first states in the South with full-scale medical marijuana programs, which exist in 25 other states.
Collectively, it was the closest the U.S. has ever come to a national referendum on marijuana, which remains prohibited under federal law.
“These votes send a clear message to federal officials that it’s time to stop arresting and incarcerating marijuana users,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project.
The outcome will more than triple the number of Americans living in states where recreational pot is legal. The jurisdictions where that’s already the case – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia – have less than 6 percent of the population.
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