There was at least one undisputed winner from Election Day 2020: legal cannabis.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota all legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, as voters in each state approved their respective ballot initiatives at the ballot box. That made a clean sweep for recreational pot in states where the issue was up for vote.
South Dakota also passed a medical marijuana initiative, becoming the first state in American history to enact both policies on the same day.
“This historic set of victories will place even greater pressure on Congress to address the glaring and untenable conflicts between state and federal laws when it comes to cannabis legalization,” says Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which was founded in 1995 and has played a role in 10 state-level legalization victories over the past eight years.
Heading into Election Day, 11 states had legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over, and 34 states had legalized medical marijuana. Now, there are 15 legalization states and 36 medical marijuana states in the country.
“With the passage of these initiatives, one-third of the population now lives in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 70% of all states have embraced cannabis for medical use,” says Hawkins. “This is not a partisan issue. And with more Republican senators representing states with medical marijuana and legal marijuana for adults, we’re hopeful that marijuana reform can serve as an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.”
“It’s also worth noting that the victory in New Jersey has the potential to accelerate reform efforts in neighboring states,” he adds.