In a stunning pro-legalization victory, California voted to legalize marijuana on Tuesday as did Massachusetts Maine and Nevada. Things certainly have changed in the United States, in more ways than one with the passing of this election cycle. Although I am still reaching for my Tums after last night's election.
Prior to yesterday's vote, cannabis was legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as Washington DC. Personally, it did not surprise me that California passed Prop 64 but it has shocked me that Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada legalized cannabis. More surprisingly, more limited medical marijuana props passed in the conservative states of Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota.
A Washington Post article received a quote from Ethan Nadelman, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This represents a monumental victory for the marijuana reform movement. With California’s leadership now, the end of marijuana prohibition nationally, and even internationally, is fast approaching.” Well, that at least, sounds very positive and affirming to me, and I need that this morning.
RELATED: ABOUT PROP 64: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
So, if you're in California, you may be questioning what happens next. Now that we have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, how does this change the way you acquire and consume your cannabis today and in the near future? In the short term, absolutely nothing has changed in how you buy and consume your cannabis.
Prop 64 has passed, but over the next year to two years, the regulations that make up the new laws will need to written and approved. After they are approved there will be a progressive roll out, it does not happen all at once. Law makers generally say that all new regulations will be written and approved by January 2018, but many, many more people seem to think that this process may take upwards of two years. It may possibly take even longer for some parts to take effect.
So, here's what this means for you, for the next year or two at least:
- You will still need to have an annual doctor's consultation and a marijuana letter of recommendation in order to purchase cannabis.
- During this time, you will still be purchasing your cannabis from a medical marijuana dispensary or delivery service.
- Until the laws are rolled out, you may still purchase medical marijuana with a valid doctor's letter of recommendation if you are 18 or older. After the roll out, you will need to be 21 or older.
- Cannabis is still federally illegal, and this will not change for the foreseeable future. States that legalize marijuana have no effect on the federal laws.
The sale of recreational marijuana will begin once all new recreational dispensaries are licensed. This is a huge task at the state level and one of the reasons why this effort will take at least two years to implement. In addition, they will need to iron out how cannabis will be taxed, distributed and regulated. For the near term at least, it is business as usual!