U.S.: State Leaders Challenging Marijuana Election Results

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Political leaders in several states are acting to challenge election results regarding regulation of marijuana.

"Voters spoke clearly on election day. They believe that cannabis should be legal and that its sale ought to be regulated accordingly," said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. "Politicians should respect these outcomes, not undermine them."

Massachusetts voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Lawmakers are trying to move the date on which adults can begin growing marijuana from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified later time. They also want to delay retail sales of pot until late 2018.

Although Maine voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law's implementation. Gov. LePage said that he "will be talking to Donald Trump" about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and said that he "will not put this (law) into play" unless the federal government signs off on it.

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas made similar statements concerning voters in his state legalizing the use of medical marijuana. "I don't like the idea of implementing laws in Arkansas that violate federal law," the Republican Governor and former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration said. "This does not call for a state-by-state solution, it calls for ... a national solution."

In 2013, the Obama administration issued a memorandum directing US prosecutors not to interfere with statewide marijuana legalization efforts, provided those efforts did not undermine specific federal priorities. According to Gallup polls, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that states should be allowed to decide their own cannabis policies.

Donald Trump said during his political campaign that he supported the authority of individual states to regulate the use and dispensing of medical marijuana, but was less clear about whether he believed state lawmakers ought to be able to regulate recreational adult use of marijuana without federal interference.

On Election Day 2016, voters in eight states - Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota - approved statewide ballot measures this November regulating marijuana for either medicinal or social use.