California voters approved Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, by a vote of 56% to 44%. Voters in Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada also approved legalization measures. Medical cannabis had a big night, too. Voters approved or expanded medical cannabis laws in Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas and Montana.
Proposition 64 legalizes the adult use, possession and cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes in California. It also creates a process for licensing and regulating adult use businesses, including cultivators, product manufacturers and retailers by 2018.
Some medical cannabis patients will get an immediate benefit from Proposition 64. The new law says that patients who have a Medical Marijuana ID Card from their county are exempt from paying sales tax on medical cannabis beginning today. However, the initiative imposes a new 15% tax on cannabis and medical cannabis beginning January 1, 2018.
Proposition 64 immediately lowers or eliminates penalties for most cannabis-related crimes, enhances patient privacy and protects legal patients from discrimination in parental rights. The initiative also prohibits cities and counties from banning the personal indoor cultivation of up to six plants. This provision overrides existing local bans on cultivating medical cannabis indoors for personal use.
You can read more about Proposition 64 and medical cannabis patients on the ASA blog.
While cannabis and medical cannabis reform have historic momentum in the United States, the election of Donald Trump as President injects some uncertainty into the federal politics around these issues. We must harmonize federal law with the laws of the twenty-nine states that allow medical cannabis. It remains to be seen whether or not the new Administration will erect obstacles to that effort.
ASA calls on our members and friends to remain vigilant in protecting the ground we have gained and in pushing for federal reform. If you have not done so already, please join ASA so that we can keep working together.