The landscape of cannabis policy across America changed dramatically Tuesday, November 6th, with major victories in key states. Full legalization efforts were successful in Michigan and medical marijuana legalization occurred in Missouri and Utah. In other cannabis related victories, many leaders were elected that have a positive attitude on legalization and include newly elected Governors Tony Evers in Wisconsin, J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, and Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico. Unfortunately, an adult use legalization measure failed in North Dakota.
Michigan’s Proposal 1 passed by double digits and the measure legalizes cannabis for adult use (over 21). The measure would go into effect in just 10 days of the vote being certified. That would mean legal adult use sales before month’s end. They become the 10th state, along with Washington, D.C, to legalize adult use and the first in the Midwest.
Missouri, after years of maneuvering and campaigning, overwhelmingly legalized medical cannabis use with a law that many experts consider to be one of the best medical cannabis laws in the nation. Amendment 2 allows for access to medical cannabis for patients with certain qualifying conditions. The system will allow physicians to make determinations on appropriate conditions for cannabis use and delegates the Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services as administrator over the access. The Drug Policy Alliance played a major role in drafting and funding Amendment 2. The measure passed with 66% of voters supporting the measure, which is the greatest margin of victory for a medical marijuana measure in any state ever. Two other proposals were also on the ballot, Amendment 3 and Proposition C, but they both failed.
Utah’s medical marijuana measure, Proposition 2, passed with strong support for such a conservative state with a 53% to 47% margin. The law allows those with qualifying conditions to get a medical marijuana card with doctor recommendation, but places restrictions on the doctors by prohibiting them from owning or working for dispensaries or making cannabis recommendations for over 20% of their patients. Patients living over 100 miles from a state licensed and regulated dispensary will be allowed to grow up to 6 plants. There has been noise of upcoming changes to the law, however, that could impact home grows, strip some of the qualifying conditions, and ban edibles as a method of administration. Smoking is already banned in the current language.
New Mexico’s new Governor-elect, Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, supported cannabis legalization in her platform. She understands that millions of dollars in tax revenue would come into state coffers and she wants law enforcement focusing on serious issues. She explained to KVIA ABC News, “I want our intelligence community and our law enforcement that are working statewide to deal with real drug threats, including the cartels.”
Billionaire J.B. Pritzker made cannabis a centerpiece of his campaign and won a decisive victory with 54% of the vote over Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, who garnered a mere 40%. His position centered around the racial disparity in cannabis arrests that plague the nation.
“We can begin by immediately removing one area of racial injustice in our criminal justice system,” Pritzker said after his primary election victory in March (watch video here). “Let’s legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.”
In Wisconsin, three term governor and recall election survivor Scott Walker was ousted by Democratic candidate and State School Superintendent Tony Evers. In the tight race, Evers made clear his support for both decriminalization of cannabis and medical marijuana but went even further by saying he wants to put a full legalization measure on the ballot to let the people of Wisconsin decide.
With a divisive White House, a divided Congress and a splintered electorate, one thing is clear … marijuana is wins.