The movement to legalize marijuana, the nation’s most popular illicit drug, will take a giant leap on Nov. 8 if California and four other states vote to allow recreational cannabis, as polls suggest they may, the New York Times reports. The map of where pot is legal could include the entire West Coast and a block of states reaching from there to Colorado, raising a stronger challenge to the federal government’s ban on the drug. Massachusetts and Maine also have legalization initiatives on the ballot next month that seem likely to pass. Arizona and Nevada are voting on recreational marijuana, with polls showing Nevada voters evenly split.
The passage of recreational marijuana laws in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington stae over the past four years may have unlocked the door to eventual federal legalization. A yes vote in California, which has an economy the size of a large industrial country’s, could blow the door open, experts say. “If we’re successful, it’s the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana,” said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco. “If California moves, it will put more pressure on Mexico and Latin America writ large to reignite a debate on legalization there.”