Ballot issues seeking to legalize medical and recreational marijuana use in various states continued this year. Prior to the 2018 elections, 31 states and Washington D.C. had legalized medical marijuana, while 16 states had passed recreational marijuana laws. On November 6, voters in four states voted on ballot issues legalizing one or the other. Three out of the four approved some type of legalization, one rejected it. Here's the breakdown:
Proposal 1 – Recreational Marijuana (Passed 57% - 43%)
- Legalizes recreational use and possession of marijuana for persons 21 years and older.
Three competing laws that legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
Measure 3 (Failed 59% - 41%)
- Legalizes recreational use of marijuana for persons 21 years and older.
Proposition 2 (Passed 53% - 47%)
- Legalizes the medical use of marijuana for individuals with qualifying medical illnesses.
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and there exists a vague “truce” between the federal government and states that have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, whereby federal law enforcement will only prosecute marijuana activity that would be illegal under state law. These types of laws are getting more popular in recent years. Most voters are generally uninformed about the medical dangers of marijuana, or its potential impact on society. But we are learning more from the experience of states that have legalized medical and/or recreational pot. Colorado was among the first to legalize both medical (2000) and recreational (2013) marijuana, and the unforeseen consequences the state has experienced include increased police actions, increased traffic accidents, increased illegal drug activity, deaths from overdoses, and increased marijuana use by minors. Also, surrounding states have been impacted by the illegal importation of marijuana from states where it is legal, and the U.S. Postal Service reports increasing illegal attempts to transport marijuana through the mail.
Focus on the Family provides several resources that explain the dangers of pot legalization. These include: