Wave of ballots could see the recreational use of the drug legalized in nine states within three years
The move to allow the recreational use of pot across the USA is gathering pace following a wave of referenda across the country.
By the end of 2016 the drug could be legal in nine states if voters back the move in ballots planned for Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.
Earlier this week Oregon and Alaska joined Washington and Colorado in allowing people to smoke pot. Washington DC also backed the move – although Congress could, in theory, still reverse the decision.
The medical use of cannabis is already legal in 23 states and they were joined by Guam, the first American territory ease its cannabis laws, in a vote earlier this week.
In addition several towns across the USA also backed moves to allow pot smoking within their own boundaries.
Voters in South Portland, Maine backed the move – joining its neighbour Portland in doing so.
Similar local initiatives were backed in six towns and cities in Michigan – Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mount Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron and Saginaw.
Voters in two major conurbations in New Mexico – Alburquerque and Santa Fe – also overwhelmingly backed a change in the law.
In doing so the towns have set local police a quandary, with officers having to choose whether to continue to enforce state laws banning marijuana or local statutes which allow it.
“What we have here is a patchwork situation with police in some areas enforcing local ordinances and not arresting people with small amounts of marijuana and others still applying state bans,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst with Marijuana Policy Project.
Meanwhile in California, possession of up to an ounce of pot is treated in the same way as a speeding ticket with a fine – but no criminal record.
This is significant because even a minor criminal conviction can lead to problems getting a job, loan, student place or a home.
With many of the country’s older voters having been pot-smokers in the 1960s, there appears to have been a sea-change in the American public’s attitude towards pot.
Bill Clinton, for example, ran into trouble after admitting he had smoked pot as a student at Oxford – although he rather lamely added that he did not inhale.
Rand Paul, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is known to have a relaxed view on cannabis – having promoted an amendment to deny the Drug Enforcement Agency funds to pursue growers of legal medical marijuana.
Barack Obama made no attempt to deny he had smoked pot in his youth. Asked whether he had inhaled, he replied: “I inhaled frequently, that was the point.”
VIA The Telegraph UK