Watch CBS News

Live updates: Calif., Mass. voters approve recreational marijuana

Voting for recreational pot
More states vote to allow recreational marijuana 03:00

Legalization of recreational marijuana was on the ballot in five states this Election Day: California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona and Nevada.  

California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, giving a huge boost to the campaign to allow pot nationwide. Arizona rejected it.

Big Pot: The commercial takeover 33:24

In general, the proposals for recreational pot would treat cannabis similar to alcohol. Consumption would be limited to people 21 or older and forbidden in most public spaces. Pot would be highly regulated and heavily taxed, and some states would let people grow their own. 

Voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana measures.

State-by-state polls showed most of the measures with a good chance of prevailing. But staunch opponents that included law enforcement groups and anti-drug crusaders urged the public to reject any changes. They complained that legalization would endanger children and open the door to creation of another huge industry that, like big tobacco, would be devoted to selling Americans an unhealthy drug.

Check back here for live updates on each state with recreational marijuana on the ballot: 


California voters approved a ballot measure Tuesday allowing recreational marijuana in the nation’s most populous state, handing the legalization movement its biggest victory yet. 

Voters in nine states considered proposals to expand legal access to the drug, which is still forbidden by the federal government.

California was the first state to approve medical marijuana two decades ago. It was among five states weighing whether to permit pot for adults for recreational purposes. 

California’s vote means recreational cannabis will be legal along the entire West Coast, giving the legalization movement powerful momentum. That could spark similar efforts in other states and put pressure on federal authorities to ease longstanding rules that classify marijuana as a dangerously addictive drug with no medical benefits.


The vote was extremely close, but on Thursday the Associated Press reported the Main initiative passed.

Both Maine and Massachusetts previously voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and to authorize medical marijuana programs.

Initiatives on the ballot in Maine and Massachusetts would regulate and tax marijuana in ways similar to alcohol. But there are differences in the way the two New England states would proceed under the respective measures.

In Maine, recreational marijuana would be regulated by the existing state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Maine would allow people 21 years of age or older to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six pot plants in their homes. Massachusetts would allow an individual 21 or older to possess 1 ounce of pot outside their home and up to 10 ounces inside their homes, and to cultivate up to six plants for personal use.

Maine’s proposal calls for a flat 10 percent sales tax on retail marijuana.


Voters have approved a ballot measure making Massachusetts the first state in the eastern U.S. to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

In Massachusetts, the licensing authority for recreational marijuana would be a new three-member Cannabis Control Commission, appointed by the state treasurer. The commission would be advised by a Cannabis Advisory Board with 15 members appointed by the governor.

The Massachusetts proposal calls for a 3.75 percent surcharge on retail sales of marijuana, on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax. Local jurisdictions could also add up a 2 percent tax, creating a combined maximum tax of 12 percent on pot products.


Arizona voters have rejected legalized recreational marijuana following a multimillion-dollar campaign to defeat it.

Proposition 205 failed Wednesday after opponents poured millions into fighting recreational pot for adults in the conservative state on the border with Mexico.

The measure drew donations from local businesses and out-of-state magnates such as casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who contributed $500,000.

Supporters of legal pot said it would have eliminated black markets, freed up police and raised money for K-12 schools.

Opponents said legalization would increase drug trafficking because growers in Arizona can sell to states where it’s illegal. They warned of an increase in teen use and deadly car crashes tied to marijuana.


The marijuana legalization movement scored its biggest victory yet Tuesday as voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada approved recreational pot, making the drug fully legal in the nation’s most populous state and giving it a toehold in the densely populated Northeast.

The law would allow possession and use by adults of up to an ounce of marijuana and impose a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales, with revenue earmarked for education. Businesses that have medical marijuana certification would be the first to be eligible for licenses. 

Proponents said legalizing pot could generate $20 million a year in tax money for Nevada schools.

Opponents, including Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, billionaire casino magnate and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson and many of the state’s top elected Republicans called legalization a threat to Nevada children.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.