Where Cannabis Legalization Won in 2020
Recap of each state initiative, the results, plus how the wins will affect issues like inequality, rehabilitation, and more.
Cannabis legalization emerged a big winner after the 2020 election! Legislation passed in all states which had cannabis on the 2020 ballot.
Arizona – Recreational Cannabis
Arizonans turned out this year to pass the Safe and Smart Act (Prop 207), which legalized recreational cannabis sales in the state for those 21 and over. The act passed 59% to 40%.
Along with legalizing recreational sales, Prop 207 will provide “social equity” licenses for individuals to open dispensaries in communities historically impacted by cannabis laws, as well as allow those previously convicted of cannabis-related crimes to have records expunged.
Recreational sales could begin as early as March.
Montana – Recreational Cannabis
Results show that Montana is ready for recreational cannabis in the state. Voters passed MT 190, legalizing recreational cannabis, by 56% to 43%.
Justice reform advocates, health professionals, and conservationists celebrated legalization, as half the revenue generated from sales of recreational cannabis will go to environmental programs, veteran services and substance misuse treatment, as well as allow those previously convicted of cannabis-related crimes to have their records expunged.
Traditionally a Republican state, Montana’s vote on Tuesday shows that cannabis legalization efforts are gaining bipartisan support.
New Jersey – Recreational Cannabis
The Garden State resoundingly voted in favor of recreational cannabis legalization on November 3rd.
Results for New Jersey Public Question #1 – The New Jersey Marijuana Amendment – were lopsided: 69% of residents voted ‘yes’ to recreational legalization versus 33% ‘no.’
Criminal justice reform was also a big winner with passage of the amendment. Along with legalizing adult-use sales, the amendment downgrades or dismisses currently pending cannabis-related charges, as well as provides an online portal for individuals to expunge previous cannabis-related crimes.
Additionally, at least 25% of dispensary licenses will go to individuals in “high-impact zones” — municipalities with the highest incarceration rates of marijuana arrest and crime.
South Dakota – Medical and Recreational Cannabis
Like New Jersey, South Dakotans came out massively on Election Day to vote for both recreational and medical cannabis. Recreational cannabis passed 54% to 45%, while medical cannabis passed 69% to 30%.
Approving both initiatives makes South Dakota the first state to pass both recreational and medical cannabis at the same time.
There is more to celebrate with cannabis legalization passing in South Dakota on Tuesday. The amendment mandates half of the tax revenue generated from recreational cannabis sales will go to public education, while the other half will go to the state general fund.
Mississippi – Medical Cannabis
Mississippi became the latest state in the South to legalize medical marijuana this year. 68% of residents voted ‘yes’ to allowing medical cannabis, with 74% voting to pass Initiative 65 rather than 65A.
The difference between Initiative 65 and 65A became a flash point in the battle to legalize medical marijuana.
The former allows medical cannabis use for those who qualify, including individuals with ALS, cancer, epilepsy, HIV and Parksinson’s. The latter, medical cannabis advocates point out, was alternative legislation proposed by the state legislature that provided no framework for individual usage nor timeframe for implementation.
Nevertheless, results from Election Day show there was no confusion at the ballot box on whether to legalize medical cannabis use in the state.
Oregon – Decriminalized All Drugs
Oregon voters passed the ambitious Initiative 110 on Election Day to decriminalize all drugs. Tuesday results show I-110 passed 58% to 41%.
While much has been made of Oregon decriminalizing drugs, less attention has focused on cannabis’ crucial role in Initiative 110.
Revenue generated from the state’s cannabis tax, implemented by I-110, will support addiction treatment, including health assessments, harm-reduction efforts, plus housing and 24/7 rehabilitation centers.
Supporters of Initiative 110 also project savings generated from fewer drug arrests and incarceration costs, which will further support the new state fund for treatment.