Today, November 3, 2020, is election day, and as people line up for their last chance to cast their ballots, some states have more than politicians to consider. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota will all be voting on whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and Mississippi will be voting on the legalization of medicinal use. These votes could potentially add to the list of 11 states that have already legalized recreational use and 33 states that allow medicinal use.
Proposition 207 in Arizona would legalize possession for those over 21 years of age. A similar proposition was on Arizona’s ballot during the 2016 election and failed, but polls this year predict a different outcome. Medical use is currently legal in Arizona and many, including current Governor Doug Ducey, think that that is enough.
Similarly, Montana and New Jersey are looking to expand past their current legalization of medical marijuana. Montana organizers worked after the state’s stay-at-home order was lifted to get enough signatures to get their two initiatives on the ballot. The first, Initiative 190, would not only allow the purchase and possession of marijuana, but it would allow people incarcerated for some marijuana-related offenses to apply for resentencing. This is an issue that many states overlook when legalizing marijuana. The second Initiative, 118, would amend the state’s constitution to permanently legalize the purchase of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. New Jersey’s question would also amend the state constitution which has become controversial as people who oppose the bill call the amendment to be “extreme” considering how it would be difficult to get it removed in the future.
As a state where any possession of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor, South Dakota will be voting on two forms of legalization. Measure 26 would institute a medical marijuana program and registration system, while Amendment A would legalize recreational use for all adults and encourage legislators to implement marijuana and hemp laws. All of these states are making it clear that the use of marijuana in the United States is starting to shed its stigma.
Many Americans dislike these changes but others believe it’s a step in the right direction, a step that would eventually lead to decriminalization, and further study and research about the effects of cannabis. No matter where you fall on the issue, be sure to get out today to exercise your right to vote.