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But why are we talking about cannabis laws again? Because there were many cannabis victories on Election Night. Seven cannabis referendums passed in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Montana.
South Dakota and Montana both had two cannabis referendums on the ballot for separate issues.
Adult-use initiatives passed in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, with the latter approving a medical initiative.
Cannabis victories have made it legal for adult-use in 15 states and D.C. Thirty-six states now have legal medical cannabis.
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) noted that with 67 percent of the vote, New Jersey gained the largest cannabis victory, surpassing California in 2016. It’s also noteworthy that with a possible tax rate of eight percent on cannabis sales, it would have one of the lower tax rates in the country for cannabis, which would greatly stimulate its market.
“New Jersey is going to have a huge impact,” said NCIA Media Relations Director Morgan Fox in terms of the increase of the cannabis market.
He noted that the landslide victory shows how support for reform is growing overall, especially among conservatives.
Representation in Congress of states with cannabis increased by 29 Members of the House and eight Senators.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll support reform in Congress, but it increases the chances they will and creates consequences if they don’t,” Fox said.
In terms of federal policy changes, the uncalled races make it difficult to determine what will happen.
“During the most divisive election in modern U.S. history, Americans demonstrated unity around at least one issue; cannabis policy reform,” said NCIA co-founder and CEO Aaron Smith.
With the passage of the adult-use initiatives tonight, nearly 34 percent of Americans live in states with adult-use cannabis.
“These state-level victories will mean tens of thousands of fewer arrests and new jobs, much-needed tax revenue, and increased public safety,” said Smith.
Congressional representation of states where cannabis is legal for adults will increase by 29 representatives and eight senators.
“This is the future of American politics no matter what your party is,” Fox said. “People are sick of the War on Drugs, and they’re increasingly willing to voice that at the ballot box.”
“It should be a wake-up call to members of the GOP who don’t yet support policy reform,” Fox said.
The estimated value of the combined cannabis markets of the five states that approved initiatives is expected to reach more than $3.1 billion by 2025, according to Arcview Research.
“There is still a lot of work to do, but the wind is at our backs,” Smith said.
All vote counts were completed at 3:30 a.m. EST.
Cannabis Victories in Arizona
In Arizona, an adult-use initiative passed with 59.7 percent support after voters defeated a legalization measure in 2016. Proposition 207 makes possession of up to an ounce of flower, and up to five grams of cannabis concentrate legal for adults 21 and older. It allows adults to grow up to six plants at home in an enclosed, locked area out of public sight.
Retail licenses will be limited to no more than one per every ten pharmacies in the state. The AZ Department. of Health Services will be required to promote business ownership and industry participation by people from communities most harmed by prohibition.
A portion of cannabis tax revenue will be used to provide resources for a newly-created Justice Reinvestment Fund. A 16 percent excise tax will be applied to the non-medical market in addition to a transactional privilege tax, which is currently 5.6 percent.
Cannabis victories occurred in South Dakota as voters approved a medical cannabis initiative by 69.2 percent and an adult-use initiative by 53.4 percent. Measure 26 allows qualified patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and would permit home cultivation, with the regulatory structure being determined by the Department of Health.
Amendment A will legalize possession of up to an ounce for adults age 21 and older and permit them to grow up to three plants if they live in a jurisdiction with no licensed cannabis retailers. The Department of Revenue will determine regulations. A15 percent sales tax will go to schools and the general fund.
Fox noted that South Dakota is a conservative state that set a precedent by legalizing adult-use without first approve medical cannabis.
“We look forward to building on this progress as we continue to work with Congress to end the conflict between outdated federal laws and the growing number of states with regulated cannabis markets and help undo the racially and economically disparate harms caused by prohibition,” Smith said.
Cannabis victories occurred in Montana where adult-use was approved by 56.9 percent, along with an initiative that set the legal age for cannabis at 21 and older. Initiative 190 allows adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis flower and up to eight grams of concentrate and permits home cultivation of four plants per person or eight per household.
The MT Department of Revenue will develop market rules. Only existing medical cannabis businesses will be able to participate in the adult-use market for the first 12 months the law is in effect. Sales tax is set at 20 percent, with revenue going to environmental conservation, substance abuse services, local governments, and the general fund. Initiative 190 also allows people convicted of cannabis crimes to apply for resentencing or expungement.
Mississippi voters supported the more comprehensive of two medical cannabis options. Voters there approved an advocate-backed medical cannabis initiative over a much more restrictive alternative proposition offered by lawmakers
Initiative 65 will allow qualified patients to purchase or possess up to two and a half ounces every 14 days but does not allow home cultivation. The Department of Health will regulate and license production and dispensaries. It may tax sales by no more than the state sales tax rate to cover program operating costs.