There is no doubt that the 2020 Election brought us into uncharted territory—the wide-spread use of mail-in ballots has the nation on the edge of their seats as the proceedings drag on for days. While the U.S. waits for a final call on House and Senate seats, as well as the next President of the United States, the cannabis community has rejoiced in a number of states passing legislation that opens the door for medical marijuana programs and legalizing recreational use of the substance.
Following the election on November 2nd, Mississippi and South Dakota became the 35th and 36th state to adopt medical marijuana programs:
The medical marijuana program coming to South Dakota is due to the inclusion of Measure 26 on state ballots. Election results show that voters resoundingly supported the program, which will allow individuals with qualifying conditions the ability to apply and register for Medical Marijuana cards.
Though SD residents showed up and voted in support of the measure, Governor Kristi Noem (R), strongly urged people to vote “No,” both in regards to a medical marijuana program and full legalization (discussed later in this article).
When Mississippi residents received their ballots, they were asked to contemplate dueling proposals to legalize the substance and choose between the two, Initiative 65 or Initiative 65A.
Initiative 65, a constitutional amendment, would give physicians the opportunity to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with qualifying conditions, establish a regulatory program for businesses to grow and sell medicinal marijuana, and a taxation rate of 7%. Initiative 65A confines the use of medical marijuana to those who are terminally ill and the Legislature would determine the regulatory framework.
As in South Dakota, voters overwhelmingly supported the establishment of a medical marijuana program. The adoption of medical marijuana programs, especially in South Dakota and Mississippi where voters lean conservative, further demonstrates that people all over the country are beginning to accept the medicinal benefits of medical marijuana.
On Tuesday, Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota each passed legislation permitting adult-use of recreational cannabis. Now, 15 states have legalized recreational weed.
In 2016, Arizona voters failed to pass a provision that would legalize recreational marijuana by less than 3 points. But, on Tuesday, the state showed it just needed some more time to consider it, with 56% showing support for legalization in an October Monmouth University poll. Arizona residents voted in favor of the state’s Proposition 207, which will allow adults aged 21 and over to “possess, consume or transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis and create a regulatory system for the drug’s cultivation and sale.”
Launching the recreational program should be easier for Arizona since the state already has a medicinal marijuana program in effect, unlike New Jersey. Opponents of the proposition believe that recreational use is unnecessary since the MMJ program is already serving those who really need it.
Montana lawmakers placed two initiatives on the ballot, much like the MMJ initiatives in Mississippi. Initiative 190 proposed that adults would be allowed to have and purchase marijuana for recreational use at a 20% tax. Additionally, those serving certain cannabis-related charges to apply for resentencing or record expungement. Initiative 118 asked voters for their thoughts on amending the state’s constitution to increase the legal age to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis to 21.
Both initiatives passed. The state has a long-standing history with marijuana, establishing their medical marijuana program 15 years ago.
Voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly chose to support recreational marijuana, allowing for adults 21 and up to possess, sell, and use the substance. However, the state has some hurdles to cross before residents can take advantage of the constitutional amendment because marijuana is still considered illegal in the state until legislators decriminalize it.
Once up and running, the personal market in the state will be regulated by the commission that oversees medical marijuana.
As promised, last but not least is South Dakota who not only legalized medical marijuana in the state, but also recreational marijuana. Historically, states take a multi-step process when it comes to legalizing the substance. Medical marijuana is, for most, an easy concept to get behind as it brings people relief.
This is the reason why most states begin with a medical program, establishing a system first, before pushing for recreational use. The legislators and voters in South Dakota decided to skip that prolonged process, advocating for access to marijuana across the board, all at once.
The appearance of marijuana on ballots all across the country demonstrates an incredible push towards an acceptance and desire for legalized marijuana. While many Americans are still glued to the news, patiently awaiting for election results, the 420 community can, and should, be celebrating this win.
Though marijuana is not yet legal in Pennsylvania, you still have the opportunity to become enrolled in the state’s MMJ program. To apply for a card and meet with a doctor, visit https://thegreenerinstitute.com/schedule to get started today.