U.S. News

North Dakota voters set to reject marijuana legalization measure

(Reuters) - U.S. efforts to legalize recreational marijuana use saw mixed results on Tuesday, as voters in Michigan approved a measure legalizing the drug while North Dakotans looked set to block it.

FILE PHOTO: A thriving marijuana plant is seen at a grow operation in Denver, Colorado December 31, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Michigan became the 10th U.S. state to legalize recreational pot use, according to CNN and advocates. Its proposal also levies a 10 percent sales tax on pot sales.

North Dakota’s Measure 3, which would have made it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to use the drug, was losing by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent with 357 out of 424 precincts reporting, according to the secretary of state’s website.

State laws allowing recreational use of marijuana have spread across the United States since Colorado voters approved one in 2012. Before Tuesday’s vote 20 of the 50 states allow it for medical use.

Marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law, which has presented roadblocks to businesses. Canada last month became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis.

“Marijuana has now been legalized for adult use in one out of every five states, so I think it’s safe to say federal laws are in need of an update,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group.

North Dakotans passed an initiative allowing the use of medical marijuana in 2016 but the state has been slow to approve dispensaries.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since voters approved its use in a 2008 ballot initiative.

In Missouri, a state constitutional amendment that would legalize the use of medical cannabis was leading 61 percent to 38 percent in early returns, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Utah also has a medical marijuana measure on the ballot, which was leading in early returns.

Utah’s medical marijuana legalization measure, which would allow privately owned dispensaries to sell cannabis, saw support drop in polls after state lawmakers said they had reached a compromise plan to instead allow patients to obtain cannabis from county health departments or a handful of state-approved pharmacies.

Governor Gary Herbert has said he would call a special legislative session to take up that proposed law later this month.

Missouri voters were confronted with three choices for permitting the use of medical marijuana - two that amended the state constitution and one that would do so by creating a new statute.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott