New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota All Vote to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
Four US states have just voted to legalize recreational, adult-use cannabis.
Alongside the US presidential election, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota all had recreational cannabis proposals on their ballots. All four measures have since been passed by state voters.
Once these policies are implemented, which could take years, the US will include 15 states (and the District of Columbia) that permit the use of recreational cannabis.
A big win for marijuana
In Arizona, voters approved the marijuana measure, Proposition 207, which will allow state residents, aged 21 or older, to possess up to an ounce (28 grams) of cannabis or a smaller quantity of concentrates. Retail sales could begin as early as next May, according to the Associated Press.
In New Jersey, voters approved Ballot Question No. 1, which proposed a regulatory framework for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and retail that would be available to adults 21 and older. State legislation to enact the market is expected to be passed quickly.
The state’s decision to legalize could pressure neighboring New York to follow suit. Adult-use cannabis legalization has been a high priority for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, but the policy was shelved in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m going to cheer on New Jersey,” State Senator Liz Krueger of New York told the New York Times, “and hope that it helps us beat them to the punch.”
In Montana, voters also passed ballot measures to establish a regulated recreational marijuana market for people aged 21 and older. Under the new proposal, half of the public revenue generated from cannabis sales will fund environmental conservation programs. Sales are expected to start in January 2022.
And in South Dakota, in a US first, voters approved recreational and medical cannabis legalization proposals on the same ballot. Under the adult-use proposal, those aged 21 and older will be able to possess and distribute up to one ounce of cannabis, and will be allowed to cultivate up to three plants for personal use. The measure should become law on July 1, 2021, and licensing regulations should be in place by April 1, 2022.
Voters in the state of Mississippi also voted to legalize medical cannabis.
Marijuana still remains illegal under US federal law. But, as the tally of states that have voted for recreational legalization now sits at 15, there is a growing disparity on the issue. These states are home to around a third of the country, and many more live in the now 20 other states that have voted to allow medical cannabis use. When added together, the majority of Americans live in a region with some form of legal cannabis access.