In yesterday’s election, Alaska (52-48%), Oregon (54-46%), and the District of Columbia (69-31%) all passed ballot initiatives that legalize marijuana under state (district) law. This comes on top of the 2012 legalizations in Colorado and Washington.
Florida’s medical marijuana law failed, but only because it was a constitutional amendment and therefore needed 60 percent support to pass; 58 percent of voters endorsed the measure.
Two big tests remain for marijuana legalization. In 2016, another 5-10 states will consider legalization (plausibly Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont). If legalization is successful in most of these states, the pressure for federal legalization will ramp up.
In January 2017, the country will have a new president. That person could order the Attorney General to enforce federal prohibition regardless of state law. That seems unlikely if more states legalize and public support expands.
But until federal law explicitly legalizes marijuana, the risk of interference continues.