Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota passed measures legalizing either medical or recreational marijuana. With millions of dollars in support from the marijuana industry and groups pushing for marijuana legalization, voters approved all six pot initiatives that were on the ballot in 2020.

The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), is a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group pushing for marijuana legalization. In a celebratory article titled, “The Clear Winner of Election 2020: Marijuana,” the group reported, “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.”

Arizona’s Proposition 207, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, passed with a vote of 60% to 40%,  bringing recreational weed to the state. Lisa James, Chair of Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, wrote about the harmful impact of the measure, saying, “The marijuana industry wrote a self-serving proposition that puts kids and teens in harm’s way by allowing THC-laced candies, gummies, cookies, and other snacks. Then, they gave themselves the ability to market those items on all platforms that teens frequent, including social media.”

Mississippi voters chose between two ballot measures, and approved Initiative 65, amending the state constitution to allow medical marijuana treatment for more than 20 specified qualifying conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy or seizures, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn’s disease and HIV. It allows individuals to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at one time, and tax marijuana sales at the current state sales tax rate of 7%. It beat a competing, less-specific measure, capturing 74% of the votes.

Montana voters passed two initiatives that both needed to pass to legalize recreational pot in the state. The first, CI-118 amended the state’s constitution to allow the legislature or voters to establish a legal age for purchasing, consuming or possessing marijuana. The Marijuana Legalization and Tax Initiative, I-190, legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, imposes a 20% tax on marijuana sales and requires the Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses. It also allows for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.

Voters in New Jersey passed Public Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, adds the possession and use of marijuana for individuals 21 and older to  the state’s constitution. The initiative also allows the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.

South Dakota became the first state to pass both recreational and medical marijuana ballot measures during the same election. Initiated Measure 26 would establish a medical marijuana program for individuals with a debilitating medical condition. Constitutional Amendment A legalizes recreational marijuana and requires the legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp.

Marijuana companies and political action groups spent a combined $19.8 million to push the ballot measures in the five states. The ACLU New Jersey, the Service Employees International Union and Scott’s Miracle-Gro also pitched in for the cause.

They far outspent opponents, who raised $1.3 million to fight the measures which will negatively affect individuals, families and communities.

As we’ve previously reported, legalized recreational and medical marijuana lead to more youth and young adults using the drug; more pregnant woman and mothers smoking or ingesting marijuana; increased accidents from people driving under the influence; increased state spending; and more emergency room visits, calls to poison control centers, and deaths.

Related articles and resources:

The Allure of Legalizing Marijuana

Keeping Kids Away From Legalized Pot

Marijuana: The Big Picture 

More Marijuana: Bad News for Babies

New Study Shows that Marijuana Use During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Autism

The Surgeon General Announces New Advisory on the Dangers of Marijuana for Pregnant Women and Adolescents

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