Voters have approved a ballot measure making Massachusetts the first state in the eastern U.S. to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Tuesday's approval marks a major national victory for proponents of legalized marijuana. Currently, using the drug recreationally is legal only in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
The statewide referendum passed despite opposition from top elected officials including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Many business and religious leaders also had come out strongly against legalization.
Voters on Tuesday also were deciding whether to allow recreational cannabis use in nearby Maine as well as in California, Arizona and Nevada.
On Wednesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said it was not a surprise it passed in Massachusetts.
“I’ve never been an advocate of that,” Malloy said. “On the other hand, of course, when multiple states move in a direction, you have to reexamine your own personal thoughts on the issue.”
“As our shared border will attest, we’re gonna have to take a look at those presumptions, quite frankly. But, would I begin any day by saying, you know, I think we need to do that? Would I have? No,” Malloy said.