California, Massachusetts and Nevada made history in the Nov. 8 election by voting for the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Experts are especially focusing on California, which is commonly seen as a trendsetter for the entire nation. Many wonder if this new legislation could mean an expansion of recreational marijuana across the country.
"This represents a monumental victory for the marijuana reform movement," said Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann in a statement, per the Washington Post. "With California’s leadership now, the end of marijuana prohibition nationally, and even internationally, is fast approaching."
California was the first state to vote for medical marijuana almost two decades ago, according to Yahoo! News. The vote began a nation-wide conversation about marijuana's possible health benefits.
Laws surrounding legalized marijuana are similar to those regarding alcohol. Only adults over the age of 21 can purchase the drug and smoking in public spaces will be prohibited. Additionally, it will be heavily regulated and taxed.
Opponents to the bill claimed that marijuana legalization could send the wrong message to children and create another big-tobacco type industry that is focused on selling Americans a harmful drug.
“We are, of course, disappointed that the self-serving moneyed interests behind this marijuana business plan prevailed at the cost of public health, safety, and the wellbeing of our communities,” said president of the California Police Chiefs Association, Chief Ken Corney, in a statement according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We will take a thorough look at the flaws in Proposition 64 that will negatively impact public health and safety, such as the initiative’s substandard advertising restrictions and lack of prosecutorial tools for driving under the influence of marijuana, and begin to develop legislative solutions," he added.
Massachusetts is the first state east of Mississippi to legalize marijuana, another indication that recreational marijuana is gaining momentum.
"Marijuana legalization has arrived on the East Coast,” said Tom Angell from marijuana reform group Marijuana Majority in an email to the Post. "What Colorado and other states have already done is generating revenue, creating jobs and reducing crime, so it’s not surprising that voters in more places are eager to end prohibition."
Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved medical marijuana legislation. Arizona also voted on recreational marijuana but the measure was defeated, according to the Post.