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As part of an outcome of this year’s gripping election season, several states have implemented new laws that increase legal access to medical and recreational marijuana.
Recreational marijuana was voted to be legalized in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada on Election Day. Meanwhile, residents in Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives that further extend the drug to patients with certain medical conditions. Under these new state laws, adults who choose to use marijuana recreationally in these states won’t face harsh legal consequences. And for many patients, medical marijuana helps relieve their medical conditions without the side effects associated with some medications.
While many are rejoicing over the drug’s decriminalization in these states, it’s important to remember that marijuana is still widely recognized as an addictive substance by health professionals. It’s possible to become dependent on marijuana, which can lead to personal life consequences and health complications.
See our breakdown of each state’s new marijuana laws below.
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Floridian voters approved Amendment 2 on Tuesday, broadening access to medical marijuana beyond the current cannabis oil restriction. The state also increased the number of medical conditions that qualify for the drug, including: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
An overwhelming majority of North Dakota voters approved Measure 5, permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Patients with prior physician approval and a valid identification card can possess and obtain the drug from state licensed dispensaries. A vast number of patients can qualify for the drug if they suffer from the following medical conditions, including: cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, cachexia, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, fibromyalgia and hepatitis C.
The passage of Initiative 182 marks a new beginning for marijuana dispensaries in the state of Montana. Back in August, Montana’s dispensaries were forced to close their doors by a state Supreme Court order, leaving thousands of registered patients with no legal way of obtaining the drug. Under the new initiative, Montana’s dispensaries will re-open to patients. The state Supreme Court order, which restricted marijuana providers to a maximum of three patients per year, will be repealed and replaced by a new limit of 25 patients per year.
With voter approval of Issue 6 on Tuesday, qualified patients in Arkansas can legally purchase and possess medical marijuana. At-home cultivation will not be permitted under the new law; however, state legislators will be licensing up to 40 state dispensaries and up to eight marijuana cultivators. The new law will be taking effect on Nov. 9, 2017, and state legislators will have 120 days – following the law’s enactment – to introduce program regulations. Qualifying medical conditions will also be determined at that time.
Golden State voters approved Proposition 64, making California the most populous state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The new law would permit Californian adults 21 years and older to possess, purchase and use up to one ounce of cannabis, and allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. Prop 64 will also allow retail sales of marijuana and impose a 15 percent tax.
The passage of Question 4 will legalize marijuana in Massachusetts for recreational use starting Dec. 15, 2016. Under the new law, adults in Massachusetts aged 21 and older can possess, purchase and use up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as cultivate up to 12 mature plants.
Maine’s new recreational marijuana law will allow people to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, effective mid-December. The law will also permit cultivation, but with certain limits – no more than six mature plants (fully flowered) and 12 immature plants (seedlings) at any given time.
In Nevada, a majority of voters chose yes on Question 2 – a decision that extends the recreational use of marijuana to adults over age 21. As of Jan. 1, Nevada residents can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and can purchase from a licensed marijuana retail dispensary. People can also grow up to six plants in their home – but only if they do not reside within 25 miles of a marijuana retail location. Only currently licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to apply for recreational sales licenses.
Many people are satisfied with the new marijuana laws being put into place. However, as marijuana’s legal medical and recreational use gains traction, some people question the implications the drug’s acceptance may have on society. Studies show that states with medical and/or legalization laws have higher rates of marijuana use than states without those laws. This means that there are more people who could develop negative patterns of abuse in the future. Before using marijuana legally in these states, it’s important to understand the risks associated with a marijuana dependency, like:
If there ever comes a time when you or someone you love becomes dependent on marijuana, we’re here to help. Treatment and therapy can help you or your loved one get back on the right track.
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