With the US Elections dominating both the news and the majority of most water cooler conversations for the last few months, you could be forgiven for having missed another important potential change in the governmental system, also slated for November 8th: expanding legal access to marijuana across nine states. With five states voting for the legalization of marijuana and another four voting to legalize the use of medical marijuana, this could have a definitive effect for the medical marijuana industry; however, it’s best to be clear on exactly what effect it will have. The most important question on everyone in this state’s lips is, will you still need to apply for a medical marijuana card in order to consume MMJ in California? (Skip to the bottom to find out!)
The states that are voting on Proposition 64
The five states that are voting on the issue of legalizing the recreational use of cannabis are California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Nevada and Maine.
Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas are voting on whether to legalize medical marijuana, allowing their citizens to consume MMJ to treat physical and mental afflictions.
Montana already has medical marijuana laws in place; however, it is voting on whether it should ease restrictions on this existing legislation or not.
As California is often seen as the torchbearer of progression across the United States, many are looking to the Golden State to pave the way in the responsible implementation of legalized marijuana. However, there has also been a buzz around the possibility of Nevada making recreational marijuana use legal, chiefly because of Las Vegas. Many social media users are posting about their excitement regarding the potential for a ‘420 Vegas’, indicating that many newcomers to the herb will be using it as a party aid as opposed to for medicinal purposes.
What are the chances of it passing?
This all depends on which news outlet you read. The majority of the liberal and mainstream media are predicting that it will pass, whereas some right-leaning sites and magazines are claiming that it will fail, as a similar bill did six years ago.
The crucial difference between this bill and the one that was put forward in California in 2010 is: money. While the 2010 bill was written by the owner of a small medical marijuana store’s owner and backed by minimal funding, this 62-page ballot measure has been created by professional politicians, with Silicon Valley tycoons weighing in with their wallets.
If it’s purely down to the checkbooks, it will almost certainly pass, with financial support for the bill totaling almost $17 million, while opponents have raised only $2 million (the majority of which coming from Julie Schauer, a retired Pennsylvania art professor).
However, there is a lot of opposition to the bill, and not just from worried parents or traditional anti-marijuana campaigners. Many medical marijuana dispensary owners claim that it will have negative effects on the industry as a whole, as it will put small farmers out of business and the culture will become far too commercialized.
What the bill could mean for medical marijuana
As long as you have a California medical marijuana license, you can consume marijuana legally, anywhere in the state. If the bill passes, the use of marijuana for recreational purposes will be become legal for anyone over the age of 21. It will also allow adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. Any sales would be taxed under the Marijuana Tax Fund to help those with substance-abuse problems and other cannabis-related social issues, such as education and social awareness.
However, legalization will mean a huge increase in demand for marijuana and some critics argue that it will drive the prices up, creating a ‘Big Tobacco’ effect in the industry.
Interestingly, a lot of medical marijuana users are also either on the fence or against the bill passing, for a variety of reasons. There are concerns that it will flood the market with people just looking to ‘get high’ and that people who genuinely need it will be cast aside by growers looking to cash in.
However, any speculation is purely hypothetical and no one will no anything for certain until well after the bill is passed, if indeed it does get through.
Why you still need a medical marijuana card, whatever the outcome
If you’re wondering whether you still need a California MMJ card, the answer is a resounding yes, whichever way the vote swings. Should the government decide against legalizing marijuana, those using MMJ for medicinal purposes will obviously still need a medical marijuana card. If it’s a ‘yes’ vote, the wheels will be put in motion but it will take over a year to be put into effect. Plus, we all know how slow legislature really takes to be confirmed and there are an untold amount of obstacles that could hinder its progress even further. So either way, your California medical marijuana card will be vital to your continued use of medical cannabis for the next year.