In a changing attitude, voters in California, Nevada and Massachusetts have endorsed the recreational use of marijuana in state-wide polls. The votes, which took place alongside the presidential election, legalise the growth and consumption of cannabis for those over the age of 21.
Leading up to the election, recreational marijuana use was legal in four states: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, along with Washington, D.C.
Results in Maine are not yet know, while Arizona rejected legalising recreational use, reports BBC. Meanwhile, people in Florida and North Dakota legalised medicinal use of the plant.
California was by far the largest of five states with ballot measures seeking to legalise the use of marijuana for the sheer pleasure of its intoxicating effects, and approval there would extend legalisation to the entire U.S. Pacific Coast. Approval in the state alone, home to 39 million people, would put nearly a fifth of all Americans in states where recreational marijuana is legal, according to U.S. Census figures.
Legal marijuana is among the fastest growing industries in America, with some analysts suggesting that sales could reach $22 bn by 2020.
Opponents, however, had said the proposition opened the way for promotion of the drug on shows watched by young people, exhibiting ‘reckless disregard for child health and safety’.
Tuesday’s victories could encourage other states and congress to pursue similar reforms, said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It emboldens legislators to take on the issue and treat it more seriously.”