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Electing Cannabis: what We The People said about cannabis in the last election

No matter if you’re satisfied with the results of the last presidential election, there’s one thing that I’m sure we can all get on board with: the people want legal cannabis (and hallucinogens) from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Recreational and medical cannabis gave the drug war the middle finger on November 3rd: Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Jersey legalized recreational cannabis. Mississippi and South Dakota legalized medical cannabis. Oregon legalized psilocybin therapy and decriminalized drugs, and Washington D.C. decriminalized psychedelics. Ok, so what does that mean, state by state?

Arizona: While medical use has been legal in Arizona since 2010, recreational use is now the law of the land. Prop 207 allows adults of 21 and older to possess, consume or transfer up to one ounce of cannabis, and a regulatory system for cultivation and sale will be created. Residents with prior cannabis convictions will have them removed from their criminal records (SO IMPORTANT). A 16% excise tax will be added to cannabis sales, which would bring in an estimated $300 million per year. Congrats, Arizona… welcome to the cannabis club, friends!

Mississippi: Mississippi legalized medical cannabis, and the fact that one of the most conservative states in the country is showing support for the devil’s lettuce is a significant step for weed. Initiative 65 will allow patients with one of 22 “debilitating medical conditions” to use medical marijuana, and up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana can be possessed at a time. Interestingly enough, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) is a fanatical opponent of any sort of cannabis legalization in the state, but 68% of the state disagreed with his backwards ways. Now, try to spell Mississippi while stoned… just remember it’s M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-“HIGH”.

Montana: There were two provisions on Montana’s ballot to legalize recreational cannabis: CI-118 and Initiative 190. Regulated recreational use has been approved by voters for people over age 21, with a tax rate of 20% for non-medical purchases. According to NBC Montana, the University of Montana has estimated that recreational cannabis will generate roughly $250 million in state revenue in the next 5 years. Stay High, Montana, just like those mountains!

New Jersey: New Jersey voters showed their overwhelming support for legalizing the recreational use of cannabis for adults of 21 and older. The recreational program will be overseen by the state’s already existing medical cannabis program. Governor Phil Murphy (D) has voiced support for the measure, and said that it is a good move in an effort to boost the state’s struggling economy. It is expected that this move could push neighboring states New York and Pennsylvania to embrace similar measures in the future, in order to stay competitive with New Jersey. Cannabis sales will have a 6.625% sales tax, with some municipalities charging an extra 2%. Stoned at the shore, New Jersey!

Oregon: In an unprecedented measure, Oregon became the first state in the country to decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs including cocaine, LSD, and heroin. The measure was backed by criminal justice reform groups with the goal of diverting people from incarceration by treating possession simply as a citation, and instead expanding access to drug treatment programs. The initiative will allow people arrested with small amounts of hard drugs to avoid going to trial, and possible jail time, by paying a $100 fine and attending an addiction recovery program. The treatment centers will be funded by revenues from legalized marijuana, which was approved in Oregon several years ago. While Colorado and California decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms in recent years, Oregon voters also approved a measure making it the first state to actually legalize the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms. Smooth moves, Oregon!

South Dakota: Both provisions on South Dakota’s ballot regarding cannabis—Measure 26 and Amendment A—passed in this election, making both recreational and medical marijuana uses legal for a conservative state that previously had no legalization precedent. South Dakota is the first ever state to approve both forms of cannabis use at the same time (APPLAUSE!). Measure 26 creates a medical cannabis program with a registration system for people with qualifying provisions; Amendment A legalizes cannabis for all adults aged 21 and older.

While over 50% of voters wanted cannabis legalization of both medical and recreational, the South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) opposed both provisions like a real chump… a dumb move, because Amendment A alone is estimated to bring in at least 31 million in net revenue in the next two years. Rock on, South Dakota!

Washington D.C.: Under Initiative 81, Washington D.C. voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics in the nation’s capital, including possession and use of entheogenic plants and fungi. All incidents related to hallucinogens will now be among D.C.’s lowest law enforcement priorities (as they should be). Nice work, Capitol City!

As states around the country continue to legalize, it’s important that we continue to have conversations about normalizing cannabis, ending the drug war, and releasing non-violent cannabis offenders from their sentences for a plant that is now recreationally legal in 15 states (plus Washington D.C.), and medically legal in 36. We’ve done good work here, guys… and there is still a lot more to do.

Heidi Keyes is the Founder of Puff, Pass & Paint, and Co-Founder & President of Cannabis Tours. Heidi writes about her experiences, sharing her advice, travel tips, and wisdom in Puff, Pass Ponder.


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