According to an article published recently in investment journal The Motley Fool, three states have already indicated that they will be voting on proposed legislation to decriminalize the use of Cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes in November this year, while more than ten other states between them have a total of over 40 Cannabis related ballot measures in progress that are currently being tracked by Ballotpedia.
Of the three states that have so far committed to a vote this year, residents of Nevada and Maine will be voting on whether or not to join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational Cannabis usage, while Floridians will decide on the legalization of the use of Cannabis and Cannabis derived products for medical purposes.
How many states have already legalized Cannabis in some form?
The list of states that have approached the legalization of Cannabis has grown steadily since Oregon started the ball rolling by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of Cannabis in 1973. By 1981 a total of 11 states had passed legislation that decriminalized the possession of Cannabis to some extent, thereby laying the foundation for future legalization.
San Francisco legalized medical Cannabis as a city in 1991, and since California weighed in as the first state to legalize medical Cannabis in 1996 when Proposition 215 was signed into law, the list has grown to include 20 states that have legalized Cannabis for medical purposes.
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Cannabis and Industrial Hemp – status under federal law
Although federal legislation regarding Cannabis has not been changed, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, the 2014 Farm Bill and other proposed legislation have paved the way to the legal farming of Industrial Hemp for fiber and oilseed production. Hemp seed oil – made from Industrial Hemp seed and containing no psychoactive ingredients – has found its way onto the legal market, and is sold as a health supplement and for culinary purposes, while biofuel, animal feed, cloth, paper and many other products are starting to make their presence known in industry. Non-psychotropic High CBD oil extracted from Industrial Hemp is also attracting attention as potentially being of great medical importance, and is being recommended for use in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments in the states where Cannabis and Cannabis products are legally available. As awareness of the possibility of using medical Cannabis products that do not produce the infamous “high” of Marijuana spreads, these products may yet prove to be a solution in some of the more conservative states where there is concern that legalization of Cannabis or its products will lead to an increase in drug abuse.
The Federal Government is facing growing pressure to legalize Cannabis nationally
The changes that have been happening in state legislatures as more and more states look to the legalization of Cannabis itself are placing increasing pressure on federal authorities to legalize Cannabis nationally. The federal government has already gone so far as to indicate that it will not enforce federal laws against the use of Cannabis in states where local law has changed.
In view of the amount of states introducing ballot measures for legalization this year, it is quite possible that 2016 will prove to be a watershed and that next year could kick off with more than half of the states in the Union providing controlled access to medical Cannabis.