Despite Americans' statistical lack of enthusiasm for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Green Party still has little chance of getting nominee Jill Stein into the White House. But another kind of green is poised to have a big election day this year: recreational marijuana.
Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington might soon have some company in the ranks of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will vote on recreationally legalizing pot on ballot measures this year on election day in November. The states would determine individually what the parameters of legalization would be — California has signaled that recreational pot would be legal for adults over 21 and subject to a 15 percent sales tax.
In addition to those states, four other states — Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri — will have ballot measures this year to make marijuana legal for medical use. The eight ballot measures will be the largest swath of voters weighing in on the issue of marijuana legalization in history.
"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN.
There is more good news for pro-legalization supporters. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, an avid advocate of marijuana legalization, is getting a lot of attention for a third party presidential candidate thanks to Americans' dissatisfaction with the major party nominees. Johnson is currently trying to hit the 15-percent mark in the polls to qualify for the presidential debates. Were he to hit that mark, he could champion the cause of legalization on a bigger platform than a full-fledged supporter of legalization has ever been able to do.
As for Johnson himself, the candidate says he has given up marijuana consumption — he says he likes to consume marijuana edibles — to focus on his presidential campaign and would further abstain if elected president.
"Marijuana products, from a medicinal standpoint, directly compete with legal prescription drugs that kill 100,000 people a year. There has not been one documented death due to marijuana. So [it's] a whole lot safer and arguably as effective," Johnson told International Business Times in June. "On the recreational side, I have always maintained that legalizing marijuana will lead to less overall substance abuse because people will find marijuana as such a safer alternative than everything else that's out there — starting with alcohol. The campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado was a campaign based on: Marijuana is safer than alcohol."