YES WE CANNABIS | The marijuana movement had a huge Election Day

Sheena Shiravi
Nov 7, 2018

And then there were 10!

The Midwest will open its first recreational cannabis market after Michigan voters made it the 10th U.S. state to legalize adult-use marijuana. Utah and Missouri, meanwhile, approved statewide medical-marijuana measures Tuesday, making them the 32nd and 33rd states with some form of legal sale.

North Dakota floated an adult-use cannabis measure with no medical-marijuana foundation, and 59% of voters rejected it. The conservative state was not expected to pass Measure 3, however, and a complete sweep of all four states with major cannabis legislation on the ballot would have been a big surprise indeed.

Overall, Tuesday was a huge win for cannabis.

Michigan was huge. A foothold in the Midwest should go a long way to create additional pressure for other states in the region – which has been slower to adopt cannabis legalization – to end prohibition. And the addition of two more traditionally red states to the medical market is further proof that cannabis legalization is an increasingly bi-partisan issue whose barriers are crumbling fast.

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“Democrats regained control of the House, while Republicans extended their Senate majority,” writes Marijuana Moment editor Tom Angell. “But one clear winner in the midterms elections was marijuana.”

Those gains come on the heels of wins in June, when Oklahoma voted to legalize medical marijuana, and January, when Vermont became the first state to legalize through the legislature (as opposed to a ballot initiative). And to the north, Canada just opened its nationwide adult-use market last month, becoming the first G7 country (and largest) to do so, while Mexico’s Supreme Court recently struck down that country’s prohibition laws.

Other small victories.

Nothing is more powerful than the domino effect of states ending prohibition, but there were other cannabis issues being decided Tuesday, and most broke in favor of legalization.

Illinois: Democratic Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker won 54% of the statewide vote after making legalization a pillar of his campaign. Illinois currently has medical marijuana.

Minnesota: Democratic Governor-Elect Tim Waltz has spoken strongly in favor of legalization in his state, which has a restricted medical market.

Ohio: Several cities approved local decriminalization measures, though the state already has a medical marijuana market.

Wisconsin: With no legal market to speak of, 14 counties strongly approved reform policies by way of non-binding advisory questions addressing legalization and decriminalization. And new Governor-elect Tony Evers (D), who ousted staunch cannabis opponent Scott Walker, says he wants a full legalization measure put before voters.

The tide is turning.

Federal prohibition still stands, of course, though there is growing sentiment that change is on the horizon. A recent Pew Research poll showed 62% of Americans overall support legalization (Gallup has that number at 66%); among Millennials, it jumps to 74%.

And one of the biggest opponents of cannabis in the federal government, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions (R), lost his re-election bid to Colin Allred (D) and is on his way out. Sessions wasn’t just a regular “no” vote – he opposed every marijuana measure that’s ever crossed his desk – he was also chair of the House Rules Committee, which gave him the power to personally block several pieces of legislation before ever going to a vote.

Sessions, who has represented Texas’ 32nd district since 2003, will wrap up his lame-duck term in January.

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