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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Recreational Marijuana use will be legal in 21 states after ballot measures pass

Legalization ballot proposals were tallied on Tuesday, with Maryland and Missouri voters legalizing recreational use for adults, while Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota voters rejected the plan.

Maryland and Missouri will make marijuana usage for recreational purposes legal in 21 states. The referendum in Maryland was handily approved, with approximately two-thirds of voters in favor. In more conservative Missouri, 53% of voters supported the initiative.

In contrast, recreational usage was not extended in three other states, including South Dakota, where a 2020 ballot initiative to establish a recreational market was invalidated by a state court in 2018. This year’s vote would have legalized recreational usage without establishing a commercial market.

This year, South Dakota’s proposal garnered just 47.1% of the vote.

The initiative in Arkansas garnered 43.7%.

North Dakota earned 45.1% of the vote.

Despite the setbacks, Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the Public Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said on Wednesday that national momentum remained backed by legalization.

In midterm elections, participation is often lower than in presidential years, which might partly explain South Dakota’s outcome, he added.

Moreover, many Republican candidates campaigned on a “law-and-order” platform, which may have dissuaded Republican voters from supporting marijuana legislation, he noted.

“At best, it’s a minor setback; it won’t stop our momentum,” he said. We are in a better position today than we were yesterday, as two more states have legalized marijuana for adults, bringing the total number of legal states to 21.

Armentano predicted that additional states will likely support legalization between 2023 and 2024.

He said that the group is targeting Ohio for a ballot initiative in 2023, while state lawmakers in other states would seek to modify the legislation via the more usual legislative route.

The results in Minnesota on Tuesday, in which Democrats flipped the state Senate and will control both legislative chambers and the governorship next year, made that state a plausible target for legalization activists, he added.

However, the setbacks in more conservative states in the South and Midwest may demonstrate the limitations of legalizing by ballot initiative, which is only permitted in approximately half of the states.

Since Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use a decade ago, similar initiatives have overwhelmingly passed, but mostly in blue and purple coastal states.

A Colorado ballot initiative to legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms also seemed on course to barely succeed, with 51% of unofficial results in favor.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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