Voters in Guam approved a ballot initiative Tuesday that would legalize marijuana for “debilitating medical conditions” such as epilepsy, HIV, cancer and glaucoma. The bill, which passed by more than 56 percent, makes Guam the first U.S. territory to legalize medical pot.
The decision marks the first victory in a flurry of marijuana-related ballot measures this Election Day. Residents of Florida will also vote on medical marijuana legislation, and voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., will decide whether to legalize pot for recreational purposes. Two Maine cities are also voting on full-scale legalization, and two New Mexico counties are mulling decriminalization.
“This is just the beginning of a very big day,” Tom Angell, chairman of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told HuffPost. “People all across the world are ready to move beyond failed prohibition laws, especially when seriously ill patients are criminalized just for following their doctors’ recommendations.”
Though the Guam initiative originally faced legal hurdles, the self-governing territory’s Supreme Court ultimately pushed it through to the ballot in September. A government commission will establish the program’s specific rules and regulations in the coming months.
As of Tuesday, 23 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have some sort of medical marijuana law on the books, and the country’s support of both medical and recreational pot continues to grow. A recent poll showed 88 percent of Americans think patients should be allowed to use cannabis for medical purposes, and multiple surveys over the past year have revealed a clear majority of respondents back full-scale legalization.