Five states voted on adult-use cannabis legalization yesterday. Two of the five approved the measure. Maryland and Missouri voted in favor of recreational use, while Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota rejected cannabis legalization.
The results are an encouraging signal that even conservative portions of the country are becoming more tolerant of cannabis. There are now 21 states with legal adult-use.
Wana Brands CEO Nancy Whiteman said of the results, “Although cannabis-related ballot initiatives did not achieve a clean sweep in this election, it is clear that for the vast majority of America, the momentum is moving toward a complete end of cannabis prohibition.”
Missouri’s measure legalizes recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older and will expunge past arrests and convictions for nonviolent cannabis offenses. Minors and those driving under the influence of cannabis are not included in the expungements.
Whiteman is looking forward to Missouri’s legalization measure as Wana Brands already has a manufacturing partner, Clovr Cannabis, in the state.
She noted, “Not only will the passage of Amendment 3 help raise millions of revenue for critical veteran and mental health services, but Missouri residents with low-level cannabis offenses will be able to expunge these convictions from their record, finally addressing the inequities of the War on Drugs.”
Similarly, Maryland will automatically expunge past cannabis possession convictions.
Cresco Labs Co-Founder Joe Caltabiano released a statement saying, “Although the industry would have preferred that every state cannabis initiative has passed, one of the best outcomes of this election is that is increases the number of U.S. Congressional representatives who now serve voters that have declared their preference for a legal and regulated cannabis industry. With the success of the Maryland and Missouri ballot initiatives, any remaining excuses that further delay meaningful federal cannabis reform — particularly SAFE Banking — lack any merit.”
All five states that voted on the issue Tuesday have legal medical cannabis programs. Legalization campaigns raised $23 million across five states, with the majority in Missouri and Arkansas.
According to an Associated Press analysis, most of the campaign donations came from companies with medical cannabis licenses. Supporters will likely try again in Arkansas in 2024.
These ballot initiatives come on the heels of President Joe Biden’s recent announcement pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of cannabis under federal law.
Caltabiano urged other elected officials to consider their stance on prohibition in light of Tuesday’s election. “Our elected representatives should follow [Biden’s] lead and do the right thing for the hundreds of thousands of citizens they serve who are working in the cannabis industry.
“Federal reform, whether it comes in the form of full descheduling or SAFE Banking, will provide security for those workers, fairness for cannabis businesses, and confidence for the investors who need a clear roadmap to continue support of the industry’s growth.”