The ideological tug-of-war between centralized, federal power and self-governing states predates even the American constitution. Most of the country’s landmark social advances — abolition, women’s suffrage, civil rights, marriage equality — have been litigated at the state level before being upheld by Congress and the president, by the courts, or both. In recent years, marijuana legalization has begun to follow this path, especially as the public discourse expanded from the medical properties of the drug to its consequences in the justice and penal systems. A series of successful ballot initiatives in Tuesday’s election push the cause further toward nationwide victory.
In California, Proposition 64 legalizes marijuana for recreational use. It also makes those serving prison sentences for marijuana-related offenses eligible for resentencing. Snoop Dogg, perhaps the country’s foremost marijuana lobbyist, tweeted enthusiastically about the victory; on the other hand, the Canadian maple leaf emoji is a foreboding sign for the presidential race.