In a year where we all could use some good news, cannabis supporters got it this Election Day, with adult-use legalization initiatives passing in four states, and medical passing in one state. Additionally, Oregon and Washington D.C. dealt huge blows to the War on Drugs.
Here’s everything you need to know about these historic victories for legal cannabis:
Spearheaded by activists with the group Smart and Safe Arizona, a significant majority of voters in the Grand Canyon State said yes to Prop 207, legalizing recreational cannabis. People age 21 and older will legally be able to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis flower and a maximum of 5g of concentrates while being allowed to grow six plants, according to AZ Central. Business owners hope recreational sales to be operational by April 2021.
Montana voters passed statutory Initiative 190, effectively legalizing the sale and possession of recreational cannabis. Voters in Montana have the organization New Approach Montana to largely thank for the victory, as activists collected an impressive 130,000+ voter signatures earlier this summer to qualify the initiative—during the midst of COVID-19 restrictions. The MT Department of Revenue will be tasked with the regulation and licensing of the recreational market.
A majority of voters in New Jersey answered yes to Public Question 1, approving a referendum to legalize recreational cannabis. The adult-use cannabis market is now in the hands of the legislature in the Garden State, but Governor Phil Murphy (D) repeatedly came out in support of legalization well before election day even saying it “can’t fail.”
The New Jersey governor was right, and this landmark passing will influence surrounding East Coast states—most notably those with large cities and potentially lucrative markets like New York and Pennsylvania. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf have both spoken out several times in favor of legal recreational cannabis markets in their respective states—but neither have made that happen.
With voters approving both Amendment A to legalize an adult-use cannabis market and Measure 26 to establish a state medical program, South Dakota has officially become the first state ever to pass both at the same time. This unprecedented win for legal cannabis is one that other states will likely emulate in upcoming years, perhaps as early as 2022 and 2024. The transition that states are now making from having only a medical program to legalizing a recreational market is certainly remarkable, especially considering it took a pioneering state like California 20 years to do so.
Mississippi citizens overwhelmingly approved of a medical cannabis program in their state, with more than 70% of voters saying yes to Initiative 65. And until recently, despite being a state with no legal program whatsover, the University of Mississippi was the only approved research grow facility in the US. And now, the people of Mississippi will have access to what has been growing at the university for years.
Oregon became the first U.S. state to decriminalize all drugs, with voters approving a measure that would emphasize funding for treatment over punishment. This monumental victory in Oregon is a major success in pushing back against the antiquated, failed War on Drugs, which has gone on for too long, ruining millions of lives and costing billions of taxpayer dollars in its wake. Much like California got the ball rolling with medical cannabis in 1996, this historic approval in Oregon could signify the pealing back of many layers of hurt.
If that wasn’t enough, votes also approved the use of medicinal psychedelic mushrooms.
Voters in D.C. approved Initiative 81, effectively decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi, such as ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. Law enforcement will place the policing of those possessing these substances at a low priority.
A Celebration for Cannabis Supporters
In a year of struggle and division, citizens in the above states have spoken—and the majority of We the People are in favor of cannabis prohibition to end, once and for all. As we move toward another voting season in 2022 then 2024, these monumental victories will no doubt have a huge influence on voters and lawmakers in states that have not yet legalized plant medicine.
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