Midterm Wrap-up: States That Legalized Cannabis

States that legalized medical cannabis in the midterms iStock / HighGradeRoots

Last Tuesday, American voters across the country showed up in droves, making the 2018 midterm election the most widely attended midterm election of all time and setting a new record: 100 million voters. Marijuana legislation was on the ballot in several states last week, including Michigan, Missouri, Utah, and North Dakota. All but North Dakota voted in favor of legalizing either medical or recreational cannabis. According to Brendan Kenny, CEO of Tilray, one of the nations largest cannabis companies, “I think people are waiting for the Berlin Wall of cannabis prohibition to topple over in the U.S. and I think [last week’s] election removed a few more bricks from that wall.”

Hand of a person casting a ballot at a polling station during voting.

iStock / bizoo_n

Medical cannabis has been legal in Michigan since 2008. However, since then, recreational cannabis has remained illegal in the state. Now, in 2018, with over a dozen cities already passing decriminalization laws, Michigan has finally decided to jump on board the legal cannabis train. On November 6th, residents of Michigan voted 56% in favor to make the use of recreational cannabis legal for adults over the age of 21, winning by a large margin of 12%.

Missouri, a historically conservative state, has long opposed any kind of marijuana legalization. Thanks to the last midterm election, however, things are about to change. Last week, residents of Missouri voted 66% in favor of making medical marijuana legal in the state. Medical patients in Missouri will now finally be able to access legal medical-grade cannabis. Unlike many other states, there will be no list of approved conditions included in the Missouri medical cannabis legislation; whether a patient qualifies to join the state’s medical marijuana program will be at the discretion of their doctor. Following the announcement that the ballot initiative had passed with overwhelming support, said Matthew Schweich, Marijuana Policy Project’s deputy director,

“Thanks to the unflagging efforts of patients and advocates, Missourians who could benefit from medical marijuana will soon be able to use it without fear of being treated like criminals.”

As with Missouri, up until this point, strong conservative opposition to legalizing marijuana has prevented medical marijuana becoming legal in the state of Utah. Thankfully, marijuana prohibition in Utah is officially over, for medical patients, that is. Last Tuesday, residents of Utah voted 53% in favor to legalize medical cannabis. Said DJ Shanz, director of the Utah Patients Coalition, the group that worked so tirelessly to put the medical cannabis initiative on the ballot,

“We’re excited that these sick and ailing patients will finally be able to find relief without being criminalized in Utah. This is a big message that Utahns are compassionate people.”

Sadly, North Dakota did not follow suit with Michigan, Missouri, and Utah; last week, North Dakota residents voted 59% against legalizing recreational cannabis. The bill would have made recreational use of cannabis legal without any regulation, making it one of the more unusual marijuana initiatives to have come up on the ballot, however, given North Dakota’s conservative history, it’s not that much of a surprise that such an open-ended proposal would be unsuccessful.

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