Clear Election Winners: State Marijuana Reforms

November 4, 2020 – Voting measures to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona and New Jersey, as well as its recreational and medical use in South Dakota, are on track to be approved by voters , CNN screened on Wednesday.

Results are still pending for the Montana recreational marijuana measure and the Mississippi medical marijuana measure.

The initiatives are only the first step in the process, said John Hudak, deputy director of the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in state and federal policy on marijuana. CNN.

Once voters approve the measures, state legislatures will typically need to put in place regulations in each state. Currently, 11 states have fully legalized marijuana, CNN Noted.

In New Jersey, medical use is already legal. The effort to defeat the latest measure has been stalled due to the pandemic, according to Gregg Edwards, executive director of Don’t Let NJ Go to Pot, CNN reported.

“Now cannabis is going to appear in the New Jersey Constitution alongside freedom of association,” he said. CNN. “And once it’s in the Constitution, the likelihood of it going out is slim or almost zero.”

In South Dakota, two measures were on the ballot – one for medical marijuana and the other for recreational purposes – according to CNN.

Arizona law will allow adults 21 years of age and older to own, consume or transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis and create a regulatory system for the cultivation and sale of the drug. A similar arrangement failed in 2016, CNN reported.

In Montana, supporters of the measure had to wait until the end of the pandemic lockdown before they could gain support, CNN said.

In Mississippi, voters had to choose between two proposals to legalize medical marijuana. One would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for 22 different conditions, the other would only do so for terminally ill patients, CNN reported.

Despite these victories, supporters of legal marijuana say the battle is not over.

Matthew Schweich of the Marijuana Policy Project hopes these victories will be a tipping point.

“The reason there is a conversation in Congress is because of all the victories that have already taken place at the state level,” Schweich said. CNN. “If we can win New Jersey, Mississippi, South Dakota, Montana, and Arizona, that will send a very strong message to Congress that it is time to address this issue federally in 2021.”

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Jothi Venkat

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