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Marijuana Embraced in Michigan, Utah and Missouri, but Rejected in North Dakota

By Christine Hauser

Marijuana initiatives appeared on ballots in four states in the midterm elections. In Michigan and North Dakota, initiatives gave voters the opportunity to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Missouri and Utah, voters chose whether to allow people who are sick to use the drug for medical reasons.

Here are the results of those initiatives.

Michigan voters legalized the sale and use of marijuana

Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana, and the 10th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to allow adults to possess the drug in small amounts for recreational use. Fifty-six percent of the state’s voters cast ballots in favor of the measure.

In doing so, voters endorsed Proposal 1, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which permits people who are 21 or older to possess and grow cannabis and related concentrates for personal use. It also licenses commercial production and retail sales of marijuana.

Advocates of legalization said the measure would curb arrests and redirect tax money. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which tracked the progress of the Michigan vote and the marijuana ballot initiatives in other states, said voters’ approval of Proposal 1 was a “resounding rebuke” of the state’s policy of prohibition and of its “racist application” of arrests.

In 2016, the Michigan police made over 22,000 marijuana-related arrests, the executive director of Norml, Erik Altieri, said in a statement on Wednesday. “That wasteful and harmful practice ends today,” he said.

North Dakota did not legalize recreational marijuana

A 2017 Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans — 64 percent — supported legalization of marijuana in some form. It remains illegal at the federal level.

But in North Dakota, 59.5 percent of voters gave a thumbs down to Measure 3, which would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for people who are 21 or older. It would have also established a process to expunge convictions involving marijuana.

Opponents of legalization said the proposal was too open-ended and did not have enough detail about how the drug would be regulated. “It will be the wild, wild West in North Dakota” if it passes, Robert Wefald, a former state attorney general and the chairman of North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, said in an interview in September as he spearheaded a campaign opposing Measure 3.

Medical marijuana is legal in the state for residents with qualifying conditions.

In Utah, a majority votes for access to medical marijuana

Medical marijuana was also on the ballot in Utah, after the Mormon Church joined lawmakers, the governor and advocates last month to back a deal that would legalize it in the conservative state.

The ballot initiative, Proposition 2, legalizes the use of medical marijuana for people with qualifying illnesses. As of Wednesday, just over 53 percent of voters had endorsed the ballot initiative. The state is poised to regulate the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to patients who have recommendations from a physician.

Voters legalized medical marijuana in Missouri

Missouri became one of the 33 states that have embraced medical use of the drug. Three competing measures on the ballot were related to the regulation of medical cannabis.

With 65.5 percent support, voters approved Amendment 2, which will legalize medical marijuana with a 4 percent tax. Revenue will be dedicated to health care services for veterans. Supporters said the amendment would operate through less bureaucratic procedures and carry a lower tax than the other options.

Justin Strekal, the political director of Norml, said on Wednesday that Missouri had a law allowing intractable epilepsy patients to possess CBD oil, a cannabis product, but that the state lacked a way for doctors to recommend or distribute it. “With the new measure, it is going to create a regulated marketplace for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana for patients to access with a physician’s recommendation,” he said.

Article source NY Times

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