The upcoming election may prove to be another turning point for cannabis reform. If voters approve a handful of state ballot initiatives, close to one-third of American adults will legally be able to consume recreational marijuana—based on the states that they live in.
Two of the states currently on the ballot are New Jersey and Arizona. Polls are looking good with the majority of voters in favor of recreational sales.
If these states pass, 16 million more Americans will have access to recreational cannabis. Considering currently legal states, that would give legal access to over 100 million Americans total.
However, New Jersey and Arizona aren’t the only states considering cannabis reform this year. Montana and South Dakota are also voting on recreational cannabis. And Mississippi will be voting on legalizing medical marijuana.
Mather Schweich, deputy director of Marijuana Policy Project, told Politico, “We’re now working in very red [conservative] states. If we win Mississippi, Montana, and South Dakota… it becomes more difficult for those senators to oppose legislation that allows their home states to implement laws the voters have approved.”
He also mentioned, “Every victory on the state level makes the federal-state conflict more untenable than it already is.”
Later this month, the US House of Representatives is set to vote on ending the federal prohibition of cannabis in the form of the MORE Act. However, many advocates aren’t too optimistic because, even if passed, it’s almost guaranteed to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Still, the fact that states are continuing with their legalization initiatives is a great sign. Due to the novel coronavirus crisis, 2020 was looking to be a bad year for changes in cannabis laws.
Advocates in North Dakota, Idaho and Nebraska were planning on collecting signatures for putting medical marijuana on the ballot, but social distancing has prevented such actions from being allowed. The same is true for Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Florida where legalized recreational cannabis efforts were being made.