Excerpted from a LifeHacker blog by Emily Price
The legalization of marijuana was on the ballot in four states during the midterm elections: Michigan, North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri. Michigan and North Dakota voted on whether to make marijuana recreationally legal, with Michigan passing the initiative and North Dakota ultimately voting no. Utah and Missouri voted on whether or not to offer medical marijuana, and both states approved the measures.
So, what does that mean for you? Here’s a rundown on what the votes mean in each state. Keep in mind these laws need to be implemented, so just because it passed doesn’t mean you can light up now. You’ll need to wait to see what dates each state releases for implementation in your area (think early 2019).
Michigan’s vote makes it the 10th state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreational use. With the new measure, marijuana will be regulated in the state like alcohol, meaning that it will be illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or use the drug.
Just like tobacco, leaseholders and business owners can decide if they’ll allow marijuana smoking in the business or property. So, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you can light up in your apartment or at the bar around the corner. Smoking in public, like on the street in front of that bar, will be illegal. Local municipalities can also choose whether or not to allow marijuana dispensaries or to set a number on the number of dispensaries that will be allowed in a particular area.
People who have been arrested for marijuana possession in the past won’t be pardoned under the law, but now anyone over 21 can have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of marijuana concentrate in their possession. Residents are also allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants and store up to 10 ounces of marijuana from those plants in their home, provided it’s locked up.
Marijuana sales in the state will be subject to a 10 percent excise tax.
In Utah you’ll need a doctor’s prescription if you want to buy marijuana, and medical marijuana cards are only available for people with certain qualifying conditions. For instance, HIV/AIDS patients, multiple sclerosis patients, and those with chronic pain and a risk of opioid addiction may qualify.
Utah medical patients still won’t be able to light up those joints. The measure prohibits smoking marijuana and instead only allows vaping and edibles. Purchases will be restricted to two ounces of unprocessed weed in a two-week period.
Doctors in the state are not allowed to own or work for a medical cannabis dispensary, nor are they allowed to write marijuana prescriptions for more than 20 percent of their patients. So, you’re not likely to see any marijuana-specific doctors popping up.
State officials will also be responsible for licensing medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.
Missouri had three weed-based initiatives on the ballot and passed Amendment 2, allowing marijuana to be medically available in the state. With the new law, residents will be able to purchase four ounces of cannabis from a dispensary each month provided they have received a state-issued identification card, which requires a medical prescription from their doctor.
Unlike Utah, Missouri doctors can prescribe marijuana for any condition or disorder they would like. State regulators will also offer licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries and other businesses. Medical marijuana in Missouri will be taxed at 4 percent with the money earmarked for military veterans.
Where is marijuana legal now?
Marijuana is now recreationally legal in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Each state has its own possession laws as well as tax structure for the drug.
Marijuana is medically available in some capacity in 31 states. Many states that do not allow medical marijuana do allow CBD oil, which is derived from marijuana plants without the presence of THC, the psychoactive component found in cannabis.