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Four States Voting on Medical Cannabis, Five on Recreational Marijuana

24* states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis. That’s 54% of the U.S. population. This November, another 8% may join that total, as Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Florida have medical cannabis on their ballots. Governing lists polling data on some of these ballot questions:

  • Arkansas: 58% for, 34% against (one poll).
  • Florida: 70% for, 22% against (average of ten polls).
  • Montana: no polls, but opponents out-fundraising proponents $124K to $55K.
  • North Dakota: 47% for, 41% against (one poll).

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia, allowing less than six of the nation’s population to toke up in their home states. That percentage could jump to over 10% when five more states vote on recreational pot ballot measures in November:

South Dakota had a shot at voting on medical cannabis this year, but both Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Judge Mark Barnett found New Approach South Dakota’s ballot initiative petition lacked sufficient signatures to make the ballot.

*The source I consult counts 25 states. Montana passed a medical marijuana measure in 2004, but the Montana Legislature repealed it in 2011.


  1. Bob Newland 2016-09-03 09:31

    I understand that it is difficult to come up with an adjective to describe the re-legalization of cannabis for use by adults in an other-than-under-medical-supervision context. However, “recreational use” just doesn’t seem quite right, at least not unless one also refers to “recreational use of alcohol” or “recreational use of tobacco.”

    We refer to “social” drinking. Sometimes we say of someone, “she’s a social cigarette smoker,” meaning “she smokes on occasion, usually when she’s having a drink with friends.” So why not refer to “social use” of cannabis?

    I happen to believe that drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, ingesting cannabis, and ingesting methamphetamines all have a medical implication. After all, we use medicine to feel better, don’t we? No one ingests a psychoactive substance with the intent to feel worse, do they?

    Maybe no adjective is necessary. Maybe we should just say, “In some states there are ballot questions that will decide whether adults may legally ingest cannabis, whether or not they have a doctor’s recommendation.”

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-03 09:41

    “Social” use, “recreational” use—each adjective is still shorter than the sentence you provide at the end.

    I suppose either “social” or “recreational” is inadequate, in that I am also currently prohibited from growing marijuana and conducting scientific experiments with it.

  3. Bob Newland 2016-09-03 09:59

    Words have consequences. :–))

  4. bearcreekbat 2016-09-03 10:52

    The situation in DC is more complex:

    “A month after D.C. voted to pass the law, House Republicans inserted a clause into its budget preventing the city from using any funds to regulate legalized weed. . . . [If] Representative Andy Harris, the Maryland Republican who inserted the budget clause, . . . was bothered by the apparent hypocrisy of using the authority of the federal government to interfere in local affairs as a small-government conservative, he didn’t let on. When the City Council tried to move forward on implementation, they were threatened with fines or arrest. So the law that ultimately went into effect was the result of a weird sort of stalemate. Instead of a cannabis utopia, we got something more akin to status quo: You can have up to two ounces, grow up to six plants, and gift it to your friends, but not sell it, buy it, or smoke it anywhere but in a home where the owner permits it. If you’re on federal land, roughly a third of the city, you can still be arrested for possessing it. And if you’re a federal employee — and sometimes it feels like everyone in this city is or is partnered with someone who is — it’s still totally off limits.”

    Certainly the DC situation is an improvement over South Dakota style prohibitions, but it seems there is a long way to go before we can accurately say that it has be legalized in DC or before a DC resident can freely exercise that newly enacted personal freedom without fear of being arrested.

  5. Jenny 2016-09-03 15:04

    It really says something when even North Dakotans have become more tolerant and understanding on the medical benefits of cannabis use. We all know SD will become the last state in the Nation to legalize medical cannabis. Don’t expect the old farts in Pierre to ever legalize it for social use. That would be just too much of a good thing for their slave laborers.

  6. leslie 2016-09-03 16:35

    so in the meantime isn’t the medical community still saying there is no medicinal use? is the problem that no one will fund research?

    is big pharma involved in legalization in various states? that’s the obvious funding source and who will realize all the profits. that and insurance companies somehow(or maybe fossil fuel companies looking for a new prostitute or a fix to sell:)

    we can all see there is no stopping the momentum colo and wash have created, ect.

  7. Bob Newland 2016-09-03 19:03

    The DEA says there’s no medical use. They say that because the FDA has not approved cannabis as a medicine. The FDA says that because there are no FDA-approved studies that show its benefit. There are no FDA-approved studies because the DEA won’t allow FDA-approved studiers to conduct research.

    All this while everyone with a brain admits that the anecdotal evidence of cannabis’s benefits to a wide range of people with a wide range of adverse medical conditions is obvious.

  8. grudznick 2016-09-03 19:23

    The Dakotans in the more barren rectangle have gotten soft and pale the past few years and now that they had a taste of the Bakken they are hooked on the demon weed.

  9. grudznick 2016-09-03 21:16

    Toking up is bad for people. It is bad for the tokers, but that is not what matters. It is bad for the people the tokers might go all psychotic on and crash cars and things. If you are addicted and must toke up the demon weed, do it at home and in private and stay there for the full week for it to leave your system so the rest of the public is protected.

  10. Mark Winegar 2016-09-04 05:15

    There are two distinct issues relating to cannabis and its derivatives. One, should South Dakota legalize recreational use? And two, should the state legalize medical use. I find the latter has greater merit of consideration. Dr. Amy E. Thompson reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 23/30, 2015), “So far, evidence suggests that marijuana may be an effective treatment for chronic pain, neuropathic (nerve) pain, and muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia.” Therefore, I would like to see this issue examined by the FDA and in the state legislature based solely upon medical science.

  11. Bill Dithmer 2016-09-04 15:32

    “so in the meantime isn’t the medical community still saying there is no medicinal use?”

    No Leslie, far from it. The silence of the medical practitioners in public reflects not how they perceive pot and its relationship to the healing arts, and more about other peoples perception of the law. In other words, what they aren’t saying in public speaks volumes about their beliefs. Believe me, if they thought cannabis use was a threat to the health of this countries population, they would be speaking out.

    The laws against research in this country has hurt the medical marijuana cause, but couldnt stop it completely. While the whys and hows are still in their earliest forms here in this country, that research has been ongoing in other countries. And while they still dont know the why and how it works, there is no question that it does work.

    My pot use has never been a secret kept from my drs. Why anyone would try to do that is beyond me because of blood panels and UAs and any lie just undermines your credibility in their offices. In thirty years of medical marijuana use I have “never” had a medical professional tell me to stop using it.

    That brings us to this moment, and my real reason for writing. Those of you that have gone to the Dr. Because you were feeling like crap, but couldnt get the answers you want will know what I’m talking about. You others not so much until it happens to you.

    For me, it was my heart. 10 years ago I had a heart attack. There was very little damage and stints were pot in. Two years later we did the same thing. Between those to event I had many normal EKGs, only showing the damage from my first attack, nothing else.

    When we moved to Mo, I continued to have problems and kept getting clean EKGs and stress test. Last Sunday I felt bad enough to go to the ER in Cameron. The same thing again except for a new spin, low heart rate and low blood pressure. It would have been normal for anyone else but not me. That ER Dr. saw something nobody else could see, a hidden heart problem that would never be seen on any EKG, or stress test or anothe heart cath. It was the same thing that killed my dad when I was two years old.

    When we did the heart cath this time it was with new technologies that helped them find the invisible killers that were doing their thing in my heart.

    At some time or another, every day for the last ten years, I would feel like I was going to croak. Every time we went to the Dr. they couldnt find anything. It was nobodies fault, the technology just wasnt avalable before now.

    Im writting this to tell anyone reading that your body doesnt lie. If your sick keep looking for answers. Not just for your heart but any sickness. In my case we know there are thousands of people walking around with the same thing I have, but it could just as easily been another health problem that went undiagnosed problem. My point is keep asking questions, they might save your life.

    I need to go to the hospital for some miner body work. I should be home in a couple of weeks so dont be jumping for joy at the prospect that your rid of me, im a tough SOB to kill and there are a lot more stories and music to write.

    While we were getting ready for my next hospital visit, the nurse swabbed my nose to test for flesh eating creepy crawlers, and gave me a cup to pee in. I made it clear that I smoked pot for my headaches she just looked at me and said, “why should that make any difference?” The times they are a changing!

    Folks, if you dont get the answers your looking for, you need to ask another Dr. You owe it to your family to make your and their quality of life as good as you can.

    Until I get back here to bitch again, try some common sense and love. We’re all on this rock called earth together maybe we should start acting that way. In the space of ten hours last Wednesday i learned how insignificant politics really are in this world.

    Now more then ever before, .08+1

    The Blindman

  12. Spike 2016-09-05 02:06

    Good to know your thoughts Mr. Dithmer.

    May you live long and prosper.

    This rock is a better place sir, because you are on it.

  13. John 2016-09-08 20:11

    The evidence is in. Want to reduce US youth marijuana use? Legalize it.

    The doubting Thomas’s didn’t believe the evidence from Portugal, Amsterdam, etc., etc. Now the evidence is in from the US. Legalizing it stops making it “cool”; makes it look more like a vice; like a waste of money.

    So, what excuse will the policing, prosecutorial, prison industrial complex invent next?

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