In elections viewed as a test of legalization’s popularity in even the most conservative corners of the nation, Maryland voters approved recreational marijuana while Arkansas and North Dakota voters rejected it.
Maryland’s legalisation referendum was the 20th. Missouri and South Dakota had legislation.
“By voting for legalisation, Marylanders have rejected the failed notions of the past,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, one of the nation’s oldest legalisation advocacy organisations.
President Biden’s attempts to decriminalise marijuana led to Tuesday’s elections. Biden pardoned hundreds of Americans for petty marijuana possession last month.
Biden’s statement may encourage marijuana projects, say advocates.
19 states had legalised recreational marijuana before the election, and surveys indicate resistance is easing. All states except Maryland voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
6 in 10 voters favour legalising recreational marijuana, according to VoteCast, a poll of more than 90,000 voters by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press.
Five states allow medicinal marijuana.
Arkansas, which approved medicinal marijuana in 2016, is included. More than 91,000 individuals in the state have medicinal marijuana cards.
In five states, legalisation efforts collected $23 million, mostly in Arkansas and Missouri.
According to the most current campaign finance disclosures, more than 85% of donations in these two states came from medical marijuana corporations.
In Arkansas, proponents produced commercials praising the measure’s employment creation. Opponents warned voters to “defend Arkansas from big marijuana.”
Jerry Cox, executive director of the Family Council Action Committee, claimed the marijuana business paid millions to get into the Arkansas Constitution. Now they know Arkansans oppose cronyism.
Traditional legalisation opponents and medicinal marijuana proponents claimed the Arkansas measure set too many constraints and would only help a few shops. Former DEA administrator and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson opposed the legislation.
David Owen, who spearheaded North Dakota’s legalisation attempt, wasn’t sure whether another would be made.
“Tonight wasn’t what we intended, but the people have spoken,” Owen added.
North Dakota’s plan would have let those 21 and older consume, possess, and grow marijuana at home. It would govern retail outlets, growers, and other marijuana enterprises.
Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Virginia-based anti-legalization group, helped battle the proposal in North Dakota.
Missouri’s plan would legalise recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older and erase records of nonviolent marijuana crimes, excluding sale to minors or DUI.
Maryland’s plan modifies criminal legislation and expunges prior marijuana possession convictions.
South Dakotans, including many Republicans, voted to legalise marijuana possession in 2020, but the legislation was knocked down because it included medicinal marijuana and hemp. This year, voters considered recreational marijuana alone.
Voters in Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal for over a decade, approved psychedelics on Tuesday. If allowed, Colorado would be the second state to do so.
Little Rock, Arkansas, Republican Melody Finley voted for legalisation because she feels cannabis may assist certain individuals.
Dance teacher Finley, 47, remarked, “If you can purchase booze, you can buy this.”
Rick Huffman of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, voted against legalisation two years after supporting it.
He responded, “I have a teen.” “I suppose it’ll happen, but I may wait till my kids are older.”
North Dakota Democrat Jeff Borgrud, 68, opposes legal marijuana.
Borgrud, a retired Navy veteran, sees no purpose for marijuana. “Medical uses are rare.”