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How 2016's marijuana ballot measures could shape drug policy

It may seem hard to believe but we are now just a little over two months away from Election Day 2016. While Floridians will be called upon to decide who should hold offices at both the state and federal level on November 8, they will also be called upon to decide a host of ballot measures, including Amendment 2, which calls for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Interestingly enough, however, Florida won't be the only state in which voters will determine an important marijuana-related measure. Indeed, eights other states have measures on their ballots that could fundamentally change their respective stances toward marijuana and by extension, America's longstanding drug policy.

Voters in Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Arizona will vote on whether marijuana should be legalized for recreational purposes, while voters in Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas will, like Florida, vote on whether marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes.

According to policy experts, the outcome of the votes in these states could have a profound impact on the tenor of the national debate concerning the legalization of marijuana.

Specifically, a near or total defeat of these measures would likely strengthen the firm anti-drug resolve of the federal government and other opponents, who could argue that public sentiment is not inclined to support widespread use of the drug.

To the contrary, a near or total victory for these measures would likely embolden other states to take similar action, intensify the pressure on the federal government and even result in law enforcement retreating from its increasingly aggressive stance.

For those unfamiliar with Amendment 2 here in Florida, it would make Florida the first state in the South to legalize medical marijuana. While a similar measure failed to garner the necessary 60 percent of votes back in 2014, it still managed to score approval from 58 percent of voters.

As such, its supporters -- including high-ranking state politicians and the ACLU -- feel that there is a good chance it will pass in November.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you have been arrested for a marijuana-related offense -- possession, cultivation, trafficking -- consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can protect your rights and your freedom.    

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