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Election 2016: Voting on Whether or Not to Legalize Marijuana

Perhaps just as controversial as the actual candidates running for President this year is the proposal of the legalization of marijuana. In addition to voting for their choice for who will move into the White House after President Obama leaves office, five states will also be voting on whether or not to legalize marijuana in their state. Those states include Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

To be clear, these states will be voting on whether or not marijuana should be used recreationally. Three additional states will be voting on whether or not marijuana should be used for medicinal purposes in their state, and those states are Florida, Montana, and North Dakota.

Federal law still considers marijuana to be an illegal drug, but according to a Gallup poll that was conducted in August of 2016, the amount of adults in the U.S. who smoke weed has just about doubled over the course of the past three years.

In 2014, the National Survey on Drug Use found that marijuana is the top street drug being used by Americans. One-third of those polled also claimed they were addicted to the drug.

As it stands right now, it is legal to use recreational marijuana in four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington), as well as in the District of Columbia, and about half of the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Some states, like Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, allow for the sale of CBD for medical purposes only. CBD is an extract of marijuana that does not contain the psychoactive THC that makes users high.

Those in favor of legalizing marijuana cite the fact that the legalization of recreational usage of the drug has boosted their economies. Colorado's marijuana industry created over 18,000 full-time jobs in 2015 and led to a nearly $2.5 billion increase in economic activity.

However, emergency rooms in Colorado have seen an increase in the marijuana-related cases that come through their doors. Children in particular have been affected by the drug, with calls to poison control centers increasing as a result of children's exposure to marijuana. Similarly, more children have been taken to the hospital for treatment after being exposed to the drug, and there has also been an uptick in school suspensions for those children who bring the drug with them to school.

Additional problems that have resulted from the legalization of marijuana in Colorado include traffic deaths resulting from marijuana usage, increased poisonings of people's pets, and even explosions in laboratories.

California is anxious to see what happens insofar as how people vote on their "Proposition 64." If the majority vote is a "yes," this can significantly change the landscape on the legalization of recreational marijuana as a whole for the United States due to the size of the state and the impact that such a move could have on not just the state's but the country's economy. The law would make it legal for people over the age of 21 to use marijuana recreationally, and the drug would be taxed at a rate of 15 percent.