The results are in as 5 states voted on recreational cannabis yesterday, with only 2 passing the ballot measures. We will now have over 20 states with recreational marijuana laws on the books thanks to Maryland and Missouri voters saying “YES” to legalized adult-use cannabis. South Dakota, North Dakota, and Arkansas all fell flat in their efforts to pass recreational measures.
A few things became clear this morning as election results poured in overnight. Recreational cannabis is very much still drawn among Democratic and Republican party lines, or Liberals and Conservatives. Red states tend to look the other way and allow medical use cannabis, but they also say no in voting ballots for recreational use. Yes, there are a few exceptions like Missouri that is a predominantly red state, but with neighbors like Colorado and Oklahoma creating billions in tax revenue from cannabis, it may have been more of a money issue than political one for Missouri.
North and South Dakota faced an uphill battle for recreational use for over 3 years now, and yesterday’s vote will most likely end hopes for rec use until the end of 2023 the earliest.
Maryland has strong blue and red areas of the state, but after the great financial success of their medical program was a shoo-in for approving recreational use, passing with an astronomically high 65.5%.
Another takeaway from yesterday’s results is that recreational cannabis use is a 50% proposition in America right now. Whether your state passes it or misses the vote, the numbers are in the low 50s either way. States approve or reject recreational cannabis at a 48% to 52%, 49% to 51% clip either way. Maryland being an outliner in supporting recreational cannabis. America seems to okay with medical marijuana as long as you have some qualifying condition and a doctor signs off on it, but recreational cannabis, smoking weed for fun just like having a beer or wine, is still 50/50 issue in America. Half of America, give or take a few percentage points here and there are for the use and right to use cannabis for fun and half of America still says no, that is too much.
What does this mean for Federal legalization? Not great news as a roughly 50/50 spilt down party lines will not encourage Republicans at the national level to compromise or be more open to Federal recreational legalization. They see that their constituents in red states generally vote against recreational weed, so why support it at the national level. They may feel voting for recreational use will turn-off some of their fans and voters, since the numbers show conservatives are still voting “NO” at the state level for recreational use legalization.
Some people in the cannabis industry will celebrate two more states adding recreational use and say it is a step-by-step process. I do not espouse to that thinking as coming back from elections every 2 years with one new medical state or one new recreational state put us as over 40 states with recreational cannabis in about 2060. It is time for the cannabis industry to stop being happy with minor victories and small steps. California legalized over 7 years ago, and Colorado almost a decade ago, the stats are there from everything from tax numbers to health studies, there is no reason not to full federal legalization and every state saying “YES” to recreational cannabis.