Kanna Knowledge hopes that election challenges and lawsuits have all been settled by the time you read this — but whether or not that happens, there is absolutely no argument how cannabis fared on election ballots nationwide. Spectacularly.
All five of the state ballot measures to legalize cannabis and decriminalize other drugs were passed — by large margins. This shows a highly positive shift in public acceptance, as some of these initiatives had failed four years ago. And the results point to cannabis legalization not being a blue state or red state issue, but purple; supported by Americans regardless of their party affiliations.
In the west, Arizona voters legalized recreational cannabis.by a 20 point margin, compared to the 3 point loss at the polls in 2016. Voters in Montana and South Dakota also approved legalization for personal use. (Oregon voters passed measures to approve the use of psychedelic mushrooms, and making possession of small amounts of hard drugs a violation punishable with a $100 fine instead of jail time.)
Down south, Mississippi voters approved the legalization of medical cannabis — choosing the more liberal alternative measure championed by patient advocates and rejecting the more restrictive alternative measure that state lawmakers had proposed. And on the eastern shore, New Jersey approved legalization of adult-use cannabis, immediately causing shock waves in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. The governors of both states have recently commented that they don’t want to see millions of dollars flow across their borders into the Garden State, and will be pursuing legalization options with state legislators.
Perhaps the most important takeaway for the industry is that legal cannabis is becoming the norm in most of America. This puts immense pressure on the federal government to deschedule and decriminalize cannabis, and the Biden-Harris win is seen as a key move toward that end.
The bipartisan MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement) was scheduled for a House vote earlier this year, but leadership chose to delay the vote to focus on COVID-19 efforts. Passage would have decriminalized cannabis at the federal level, expunged many prior federal convictions, and levied a 5% commercial cannabis tax to be invested in drug-plagued communities. This disappointed many cannabis advocates who were awaiting the first vote to lift prohibitions on cannabis since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has publicly committed to holding a vote by year end.