Voters in several states approved marijuana ballot measures in yesterday’s historic midterms.
Voters in three states across America approved far-reaching marijuana measures in Tuesday’s midterm elections, representing a significant victory for the cannabis reform movement.
The three new markets could generate an estimated $2 billion in cannabis sales, according to estimations from Marijuana Business Daily.
Additionally, the results could have big consequences for future cannabis policy. While the election in 2016 was seen as a watershed year for marijuana legalization, this year’s results push the country further toward its tipping point on federally legalized marijuana.
Michigan Green-Lights Recreational Use
Michigan voters decisively approved Proposal 1, a ballot initiative that legalizes recreational marijuana.
The Marijuana Legalization Initiative, approved with 55.8 percent of the vote, permits adults 21 and older to buy up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana, and keep up to 10 ounces at home. It also allows them to personally grow up to 12 cannabis plants. The ballot measure also legalizes hemp production.
“Voters in Michigan sent a resounding rebuke to their state’s failed policy of prohibition and elected to follow a new, more sensible path of regulation and legalization,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.
“Instead of arresting thousands of citizens a year for possession of a plant, Michigan will now be able to prioritize law enforcement resources towards combating violent crime, honor personal freedom and civil liberties, end the racist application of weaponizing prohibition laws against communities of color, and collect tax revenue that was previously going to black market elements and put it towards important social programs such as education and infrastructure development,” he added.
Proposal 1 allows for licensing of businesses to grow, process, test, transport, and sell marijuana. It imposes a 10 percent excise tax and 6 percent sales tax, with revenue going to local governments, education, and infrastructure expenses. Individual municipalities will have the right to keep use illegal and ban commercial markets.
A recreational marijuana market is expected to generate $262 million in annual tax revenue for Michigan by 2023.
Meanwhile, Michigan voters also chose Gretchen Whitmer for governor. Whitmer had voiced support for the state’s legalization proposal. She had emphasized the importance of implementing a marijuana system properly should the proposal pass.
Michigan joins nine other states, plus Washington, D.C., where recreational marijuana is already legal — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, and Vermont.
Missouri and Utah Say Yes to Medical Marijuana
Missouri and Utah voters yesterday approved ballot initiatives to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
With three medical marijuana measures to decide on, Missouri voters approved one while rejecting two other competing initiatives.
Gathering the support of 65.5 percent of voters, Missouri approved Amendment 2, which allows qualified patients who have obtained an approval from their physician to legally purchase at least four ounces of cannabis from dispensaries per month, and personally grow up to six cannabis plants at home.
The new law also applies a 4 percent retail tax on medical cannabis sales, with revenue going to cover costs related to implementation and regulation, and services for military veterans.
“Thanks to the unflagging efforts of patients and advocates, Missourians who could benefit from medical marijuana will soon be able to use it without fear of being treated like criminals,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told Forbes. “We hope lawmakers will implement the measure efficiently and effectively to ensure qualified patients can gain access to their medicine as soon as possible.”
In Utah, as of this afternoon with 76 percent of precincts reporting, 53.2 percent of voters approved Proposition 2 to legalize the medical use of marijuana for people with qualifying illnesses. Sponsored by the Utah Patients Coalition, the new law allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to legally grow, buy, and consume cannabis.
Support for Proposition 2 had dropped slightly from 70 percent in the spring after the Mormon Church became more vocal in its opposition. Mormon leaders expressed concern that the proposal lacked “proper controls” to ensure only legitimate use of medical marijuana.
With approval of the measure appearing inevitable, church leaders worked behind-the-scenes with the Utah Patients Coalition and lawmakers to craft a more conservative medical marijuana bill.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he intends to call a special session to revise Proposition 2, regardless of it passing, to add more stringent regulations and safeguards than are currently in the ballot initiative.
With the addition of Missouri and Utah, there are now 32 U.S. states that allow full marijuana for medical use.
Voters Replace Anti-Marijuana Official
One of Congress’ most powerful and vocal marijuana prohibitionists, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, lost reelection to Democratic challenger Colin Allred.
As chair of the House Rules Committee, Sessions had prevented federal amendments protecting legal marijuana from advancing to the floor for consideration. Allred had expressed support for expanding legal access to medical marijuana, particularly for veterans.
With the removal of Sessions, marijuana reform bills have a greater chance of advancing.
North Dakota’s Marijuana Legalization Measure Fails
North Dakota’s Measure 3, a measure that would have made it legal for adults to use and possess marijuana, failed to pass with 59.5 percent of voters rejecting it.
Measure 3 would have removed marijuana from the controlled substances list and automatically expunge marijuana convictions from criminal records.
Polls had indicated the adult use initiative would have a challenging time. It was only two years ago that North Dakota voters approved a medical marijuana initiative.
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Despite federal prohibition, the legal cannabis industry continues to quickly grow and expand, as support for legal access reaches an all-time high, and legalization reaches more states.