Voters in nine states will decide next month whether to relax their laws governing medical or recreational marijuana use, with California potentially the most significant market.
Four states — Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, plus the District of Columbia — have already legalized recreational marijuana, and 25 states permit medical use. But this election has the potential to dramatically shift the conversation because so many Americans live in those nine states where relaxation measures are being considered.
California and its approximately 40 million residents represent a potential tipping point for a country where marijuana remains completely illegal at the federal level. California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are considering legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana in this election, while voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are considering whether to permit medical use for certain conditions, like cancer or chronic pain.
Although the presidential campaign continues to dominate headlines across the country, these marijuana ballot measures could have far-reaching consequences for our society.
A new poll released Wednesday by Pew Research Center shows a growing majority of Americans support ending marijuana prohibition: 57% of adults think marijuana use should be legal, up from 53% last year and 32% in 2006.
Analysts say the marijuana market could be worth nearly $8 billion by 2020, and entrepreneurs are rushing to fund greenhouses, invest in growing and harvesting technology, and create social media platforms to connect buyers with cannabis recommendations.