The US cannabis industry will welcome Joe Biden’s ascent to the White House, but it’s far more interested in the fact that five new states voted to legalize cannabis during the 3 November 2020 US presidential poll.
New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana all voted to allow ‘adult-use’ marijuana, while Oregan went even further and legalized psilocybin as well!.
New Jersey’s the one the punters have been watching and there were no surprises there. Over 61% of its citizens favour complete legalization, and the state expects cannabis to generate US$400 million of sales in the next year and at least US$19 million in local taxes.
“Once New Jersey goes, it’s going to set off an arms race along the East Coast, putting New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania on the clock,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, a cannabis advocacy group in Hartford.
Those three states already permit medicinal marijuana sales and have been moving toward legalizing adult-use for several years, considering tax revenue, job creation and the will of the majority of residents in favour of full legalization. The legislative stars appeared aligned following the 2018 midterm elections’ blue wave, yet ultimately there weren’t enough yea votes in the respective state houses last year. Then the pandemic hit in March, keeping legalization bills in lockdown until next year.
Three additional states — Arizona, South Dakota and Montana — had adult-use legalization initiatives on their November ballots, and Mississippians voted to allow medicinal cannavis sales. That means medicinal marijuana will be legal in 38 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and adult-use in 14 of those, plus D.C.
The Democrats may be friendly towards the cannabis industry but they don’t favour complete legalization. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaigned for adult-use marijuana decriminalization, moderate rescheduling, federal medicinal legalization, allowing states to set their own laws and expunging prior cannabis convictions — though not federal legalization.
Trump had been cautious in his stance on marijuana. Deeply aware that 61% of US voters now support complete legalization, he did not want to scare them off. When pressed by the DC Examiner in Washington as to where he stood on cannabis, Trump replied with his usual lucidity: “We’re going to see what’s going on. It’s a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision. A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing states to make that decision.”