The marijuana industry got a boost on election night. Voters in several statesto legalize recreational pot. Campaigns spent millions to support or oppose the effort.
At SPARC, a medical marijuana dispensary, an election night party ended in the early morning. The crowd that gathered was celebrating what they see as a victory over the war on drugs, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.
Before midnight, those celebrating at SPARC needed a medical certificate to legally use marijuana. After midnight, with the passage of Proposition 64, recreational marijuana became legal in California.
“I think we can expect to see the industry grow and thrive,” SPARC CEO Erich Pearson said.
Pearson said his organization provides medical marijuana to some 20,000 clients. But retail sales may not be permitted until January 2018. It will be legal to possess, it will be legal to grow, but you will not be able to buy it, he said.
The approval of Proposition 64 launches the state on establishing a system for moving marijuana from the black market to the retail market.
Gavin Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, was a leading supporter.
“California will move forward to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use,” he said to cheers.
Last night voters in Nevada and Massachusetts also approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use, joining four other states and the District of Columbia. A similar measure was defeated in Arizona and votes are still being counted in Maine.
“Look, it was a big night for those that believed that we have been on an incarceration binge for the last 40 years,” Newsom said. “Those that believe that criminalizing people’s behavior as it related to personal choice and drug use somehow is going to solve the problems.”
But under federal law, marijuana remains illegal everywhere.
“People at the grassroots level at states across the country are saying nuts to that, and we’re taking matters into our own hands, we want to legalize it and I think Washington at some point is going to have to listen,” said Zev Yaroslavsky of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Under Proposition 64, those convicted of marijuana-related crimes in California can now apply to the court to have their records cleared. But until rules for retail sale get worked out over the next year or so anybody expecting to legally buy marijuana in California still needs a medical certificate and go to a dispensary.