In the media frenzy which bombarded TV screens, Twitter feeds and newsstands, one major legal revolution was taking place underneath our noses.
In the polling booths, voters in nine states were not only asked who their preferred choice of president was, but whether they supported the legalization of cannabis.
It was a major historic turning point that was disregarded by the not so small matter of Donald Trump becoming the forty-fifth president of the United States of America.
Ballot papers in California, Arizone, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all included the option to allow over-21 year-olds to smoke cannabis recreationally.
In Florida, Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas, voting took place to decide whether patients should have access to cannabis for medical reasons, to expand the terms of the existing law on legalization on medical grounds.
After votes came in California, Nevada, Massachussets all had clear wins, while at the time of writing, Maine’s votes are leading by just one point. Arizona was the only state in the group that voted against.
Florida and North Dakota legalized medicinal marijuana making its use legal in the majority of US states.
The drug will be offered in the management of a number of conditions including AIDS, hepatitis C and cancer.
California announced that the taxes on the sale and farming of marijuana would support social programmes, law enforcement and environmental protection.
The legalization campaigns in all states attracted their fair share of detractors. Opponents feared that decriminalizing cannabis would lead to the drug being promoted on TV and film and a yes vote would show a “reckless disregard for child health and safety.”
Meanwhile a huge number of patients who use cannabis every day to control their symptoms will be breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Many people are still relying on cannabis illegally to improve their health. While it still remains illegal in many states, there is a sea change taking place.
The states where medicinal marijuana is legal are as follows:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
Despite the drug being legalized in these states, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug on a federal level. This means, according to the DEA, that even a drug that isn’t a controlled substance is exempt from being treated a Schedule I substance for criminal prosecution. Obama’s administration had chosen not to enforce federal law in the states that had legalized it. However, with a new administration headed up by Trump, this may change.
However, Trump has stated his support of medical marijuana being legalized throughout the U.S. He is less open to recreational marijuana which he stated in a rally in Reno in 2015 that he would leave up to the individual states to decide.
While he is taking a seemingly progressive approach to the drug, the people who will most likely be in his inner circle, VP Mike Pence, Rudy Giulani and Chris Christie, are strong opponents.
Whatever your views regarding the new presidency, the next twelve months certainly look set to be very interesting times for America and cannabis.