Voters approved a series of statewide ballot proposals on Election Day legalizing the use and distribution of marijuana for either medical or adult-use purposes.
The results once again affirm that marijuana 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 marijuana 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 marijuana, 10 measures legalizing adult use).
Commenting on the latest election results, NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altiieri 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 marijuana-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 marijuana 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 marijuana 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 marijuana 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 marijuana 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 marijuana access laws.