Image courtesy of CBS News
By Shannon Rose Miekka
Biden vs. Trump was not the only important choice on the 2020 ballot. Voters in 32 states decided on 120 statewide ballot measures this November, addressing issues including marijuana, police reform, sustainable energy, and election procedure.
Legalization of Marijuana
Eleven U.S. states have already legalized recreational marijuana, and this November, four more states joined them. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voted on recreational marijuana legalization initiatives, and two states on medical marijuana initiatives. All seven ballot measures passed.
New Jersey is now the first state in the mid-Atlantic to legalize marijuana, and South Dakota became the first state to approve both medical and recreational marijuana simultaneously. Mississippi also voted its medical marijuana amendment into law, but it has not yet legalized recreational use.
So personal use of marijuana is now legal in all four states, but what does this mean for criminalization?
Not every ballot measure addressed decriminalization. Arizona’s Proposition 207 permits the courts to vacate and expunge certain arrests, convictions, and sentences for marijuana. Thanks to Montana’s Initiative 118, those serving sentences for marijuana-related offenses can now apply for resentencing or expungement of their conviction.
Oregon, where recreational marijuana was made legal in 2014, passed the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative by a large margin. This measure will fund drug treatment centers with marijuana tax money, as well as reclassify the possession of certain drugs— including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines— from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation. Misdemeanors can carry up to a year in prison, whereas violations are usually punishable by fines and do not require jail time.
Puerto Rico Statehood
Last week, Puerto Rican voters were asked about statehood for the sixth time, but this time with a simple yes or no