According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 53% of Americans are in support of legalizing pot. The 2016 election cycle is projected to establish a precedent for the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana, especially considering its sharp rise in favorability among voters from just 32% in 2006. Legislation can easily be dangerously oversimplified, or overcomplicated with the use of political jargon. However, it is vital to success of the will of the people to investigate specific attributes of statutes and get involved at a local level.
The state agencies responsible for regulation, allocation of tax revenue, and determining licensing qualifications are critical to forming legal precedent to build the future of federal marijuana policy upon. Variations in state policies are reflective of distinct characteristics found in local infrastructures and influences the construction of pot laws nationwide. Marijuana policy progression at the state level is integral, and shifts on a federal level, as local changes in these laws are used as a testing ground for the evolution of state policy.
Approval of the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative would result in the legalization of one ounce or less of marijuana, which is accompanied with a growth in funding for municipalities. Revenue derived from a 15% excise tax on wholesale purchases would be used to fund operational and enforcement regulations as mandated by the Department of Tax. Additional revenue would then be allotted to the State Distributive School Account to strengthen public education. The department is also responsible for both the issuance of licenses, as well as determining qualifications and establishing a ceiling for the number of permits distributed.
California’s medical marijuana industry is estimated to be worth a booming $2.7 billion, which is expected to skyrocket further should their initiative to legalize recreational cannabis gain approval. While implementing a 15% sales tax in addition to cultivation taxes on flowers and leaves, they are also setting a precedent to establish a legal dichotomy for medical and recreational marijuana. (The state first legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1996 according to Proposition 215, prior to the passage of Senate Bill 420 in 2003.)
California is host to the sixth largest economy in the country and according to a study by Cooper et al., marijuana sales are estimated to reach figures between $15.9 billion and $20.2 billion per year in sales revenue. Proposition 64 prohibits the distribution of licenses to corporate and large-scale marijuana companies for five years. This attempt to deter monopolization of the market is proposed with plans regarding employer’s rights, marijuana sales venues, and operating motor vehicles under the influence.
The results of the 2016 election will determine subsequent rulings on the passage or failure of rulings in regards to marijuana, economics in the industry, and civil policies. Measures regarding cannabis are already on the ballot for Nevada, Florida, Maine, and California. States such as Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma are not guaranteed to have marijuana reform on the ballot, as they are still compiling signatures for consideration. However, the expansion of pot law this year will certainly increase access to cannabis for both patients and recreational users.