Voters approved a series of statewide ballot proposals on Election Day legalizing the use and distribution of [cannabis] for either medical or adult-use purposes.
The results once again affirm that [cannabis] legalization is a uniquely popular issue with voters of all political persuasions — with majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans consistently endorsing legalization in national polls. The results also continue a multi-decade long trend of [cannabis] legalization advocates achieving success at the ballot box. Prior to this election, voters have decided affirmatively on 28 separate ballot measures legalizing cannabis (18 measures legalizing medical [cannabis], 10 measures legalizing adult use).
Commenting on the latest election results, NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “Despite this public consensus, elected officials have far too often remained unresponsive to the legalization issue. This dereliction of representation has forced advocacy groups to directly place the [cannabis]-related ballot question before the voters. These results once again illustrate that support for legalization extends across geographic and demographic lines. The success of these initiatives proves definitively that [cannabis] legalization is not exclusively a ‘blue’ state issue, but an issue that is supported by a majority of all Americans — regardless of party politics.”
He added: “The public has spoken loudly and clearly. They favor ending the failed policies of [cannabis] prohibition and replacing it with a policy of legalization, regulation, taxation, and public education. Elected officials — at both the state and federal level — ought to be listening.”
Specifically, voters approved the legalization of medical cannabis access in two states, Mississippi and South Dakota. In Mississippi, voters chose between two dueling initiatives — favoring a measure placed on the ballot by patient advocates and rejected a more restrictive alternative measure placed on the ballot by state lawmakers.
Voters legalized the possession of [cannabis] by adults in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and in South Dakota. The measures in Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota each permit adults to possess and cultivate [cannabis] for personal use and establish a regulated retail market. In New Jersey, voters decided on a public ballot question. Lawmakers must now enact enabling legislation in order to amend state laws to comport it with the voters’ decision.
In total, 15 states have now either enacted or have voted to enact adult-use legalization laws, while 36 states have either enacted or have voted to enact medical [cannabis] access laws.
NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of [cannabis] by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use [cannabis] responsibly are no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for [cannabis]-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.