California Legalizes Marijuana

California became the most populous state in the nation to legalize recreational use of marijuana Tuesday. Six years after rejecting a similar measure, California voters approved Proposition 64, which allows possession and use of marijuana by those 21 and over. While pot is effectively legal, non-medical marijuana must be sold by state-licensed businesses. The state has until Jan. 1, 2018 to begin issuing those permits.

Legalization advocates reacted with glee Tuesday. The news, which was not unexpected, was seen as a silver lining in an otherwise distressing night for progressives, at least at the national level.

“We are very excited that citizens of California voted to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition," said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn. "Proposition 64 will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of cannabis innovation, research and development.”

No on 64 spokesman Andrew Acosta said the initiative would benefit marijuana investors at the expense of children, local communities and the health care system. “It now falls on California’s elected leaders to tackle the myriad issues that were raised during this campaign – ranging from advertising to marijuana-impaired driving,” Acosta added.

The states of Nevada and Massachusetts also legalized marijuana Tuesday. Early Wednesday morning, a recreational legalization measure in Maine was similarly ahead, while Arizona voters appeared to be sticking with prohibition.