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California Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

They actually did it. Perhaps just as controversial as our presidential candidates was the idea that California could legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. This result was predicted before-hand, and the influence from this decision could be unprecedented, considering the impact California has on the United States economy as a whole. And California wasn't alone on this decision either – Massachusetts and Nevada legalized the drug on Election Day as well.

Before Election Day, the percentage of Americans living in states where the use of recreational marijuana was legal was only five percent. Now, with the addition of these three states, the percentage soared to 20 percent.

The fact that all three states voted "yes" on their respective propositions shows that the country's attitude toward the legalization of marijuana is collectively changing. In that respect, it is more important than ever that we ensure sooner rather than later that we have accurate ways of measuring the amount of the drug in a person's system when he or she is driving. A marijuana breathalyzer of sorts would help law enforcement better determine the level of punishment that should fit the crime.

The federal government is also feeling the pressure to start treating marijuana like alcohol insofar as allowing it to be regulated at the state level. The government is also being pressured to drop its war on drugs, a war that advocates for marijuana legalization believe the government is steadily losing as more states legalize the drug – especially for recreational purposes.

A Gallup poll was conducted back in October that found 60 percent of the nation supports the legalization of recreational marijuana, and that number is steadily climbing. This is the highest percentage ever recorded since Gallup started polling the issue nearly 50 years ago. However, despite the fact that a majority of the country is in favor of this legalization, public health experts warn that we don't yet know enough about the long-term effects of legalization on our communities to confidently support the legalization.

Such effects can include the impact the drug has on driving, as mentioned earlier, as well as whether or not usage of the drug increases in the younger sect, with children being exposed to "edibles" and more easily accessible forms of cannabis.

Those who oppose the legalization of marijuana believe that because medical marijuana is being welcomed more often in the U.S. (it is currently legal in exactly half of the states), people mistakenly believe that marijuana is actually good for you. These folks have called for more studies to be done on the long-term effects of marijuana, especially as it pertains to increased usage among the young, whose brains are still developing.

Now, people over the age of 21 who reside in California will be legally allowed to possess restricted amounts of marijuana for personal use. They will also be allowed to grow up to six of their own plants, so long as the plants are grown discreetly and are not publicly visible. Sales of recreational marijuana, however, will not be permitted until licenses are issued, a process that can take at least two years to finalize.