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New States Have Approved Use of Medicinal Marijuana

November 9, 2016

While voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada approved initiatives to legalize use of recreational marijuana use on Tuesday, several other states decided to pass medical marijuana provisions. Tuesday is considered the biggest victory for marijuana reform since 2012.

Voters in Florida, North Dakota & Arkansas have approved medical marijuana initiatives, while voters in Montana decided to roll back restrictions on their existing law.

Reformers were jubilant. “This represents a monumental victory for the marijuana reform movement,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement. “With California’s leadership now, the end of marijuana prohibition nationally, and even internationally, is fast approaching.”

Votes on medical marijuana in Florida and North Dakota were decisive. Florida's Amendment 2 passed with 71 percent support, according to the Associated Press, after it earned 58% of the vote two years ago, just missing the 60% threshold In North Dakota, the AP reports that 64 percent of voters approving of the medical marijuana measure.

The Florida amendment has the potential to be one of the more permissive regimes the US has seen. In addition to diseases like HIV, cancer and PTSD, this new measure allows doctors to recommend medical pot for “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” The 2014 measure allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for any illness they believed it would be useful for, the new measure requires they show the illness is severe — though the wording gives physicians considerable leeway in determining which conditions would meet those criteria.

With the passage of Amendment 2, Florida will become the first Southern state to enact a robust medical marijuana regime. Medical marijuana is already legal in 25 other states and the District.