Cannabis reform may be stalled at the federal level, but the number of states that have legalized it in some capacity continues to grow. Heading into the 2020 election, 33 of them and the District of Columbia permit medicinal use. Eleven of these states, as well as D.C., have also legalized recreational use. On November 3rd, four more states — Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota — will vote on initiatives that would legalize recreational cannabis, while a fifth — Mississippi — will decide whether to allow doctors to recommend it to patients.
Polling indicates the measures will pass in all five states.
This shouldn’t be surprising. A Pew Research Center study conducted last September found that 67 percent of Americans feel cannabis should be legal, while 91 percent feel it should at least be legal for medicinal purposes. The issue is no longer just a liberal hobbyhorse, either. A majority of Republicans also believe cannabis should be legal, and as more conservative states continue to vote accordingly, it’s going be harder and harder for federal legislators to rationalize opposing reform at the federal level.
“Most lawmakers are going to respond for their constituents,” Steven Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, tells Rolling Stone. “That’s why the work [we do]around changing laws at the state level is really part and parcel of how we will win at the federal level. Every state that passes adult use means you’re going to gain members of Congress, you’re going to gain two U.S. senators. Even if they don’t become champions, they’re not going to vote no for something their constituents have come to embrace.”
The House of Representatives was set to vote on a federal decriminalization bill, dubbed the MORE Act, in September, but the vote was delayed until after the election. Though the bill would probably not have made it through the Republican-controlled Senate, it’s beginning to feel like it’s only a matter of time before the MORE Act or a similar piece of legislation is going to garner broad bipartisan support. This year’s ballot initiatives should help move the needle, as it’s looking like come November 3rd a few more Republican senators are going to find themselves representing constituencies that support legalization. More are sure to follow.
Read full article and see which states are voting to legalize cannabis this cycle, here: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/marijuana-election-guide-state-legalization-ballot-measures-1077510/