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Medical Marijuana Gains in the 2020 Election

January 28, 2021 • • Medical Marijuana

Six new states recently legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Here’s what you can expect to see over the coming months and years.

  The 2020 election, in keeping with the rest of the year, was one for the books. One exciting development for medical marijuana advocates is that voters in every state where there were cannabis-related ballot initiatives overwhelmingly voted to advance legalization.

This brings the total number of states that have approved the recreational use of cannabis to 15 and the number that have greenlit medical marijuana programs to 36. Here’s a quick look at the gains made in legalizing medical and recreational marijuana in 2020.

Election Results for Marijuana Advocates

Following the election, Mississippi and South Dakota will now establish legal medical marijuana programs, and the possession and recreational use of cannabis is now legal in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota.

There are a few things about the results that stand out. In Mississippi, for instance, there were actually two initiatives on the ballot to approve medical cannabis, one of which was developed by patient advocates and the other by state lawmakers. The state lawmakers’ measure, which presented a more restrictive model for legalization, was the one ultimately rejected by voters.

New Jersey is also a notable exception. Whereas the measures in Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota allow adults to grow and possess cannabis plants for personal use outright (in addition to creating a taxed retail marketplace), New Jersey voters responded to a public ballot question. State lawmakers will now work to amend the existing laws so as to make the voter’s decision into state regulation.

In response to the measures’ success, Erik Altiieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said, “These results once again illustrate that support for legalization extends across geographic and demographic lines. The success of these initiatives proves definitively that marijuana legalization is not exclusively a ‘blue’ state issue, but an issue that is supported by a majority of all Americans.”

It’s worth noting that the majority of these ballot initiatives passed by significant margins — further evidence that the results reveal a gradual, decades-long trend toward
wider acceptance of marijuana use across age groups. In fact, the latest Gallup poll found that 68 percent of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana, an all-time high in the survey’s history.

Changing Perspectives on Marijuana over the Years

Gallup began polling public opinions about marijuana in 1969, at which point only 12 percent of the population supported legalization. When voters approved medical marijuana in California in 1996, that 12 percent had grown to around one quarter of Americans. Since then — especially in the wake of Colorado and Washington State legalizing recreational cannabis use — public opinions have continued to shift further and further pro-legalization. 2013 marked the first year that, per Gallup, the majority of Americans supported the movement.

Other ballot measures in the 2020 election demonstrate this in action. Oregon, for example, became the first state to decriminalize the possession and use of all drugs (in personal amounts), and will redirect the resulting cost savings into establishing rehabilitation and crime-prevention programs. Oregon voters also approved a ballot measure to legalize psilocybin — the hallucinogenic chemical active in psychedelic mushrooms — for therapeutic use. While distinct from marijuana legislation, these measures show the shifting perspectives on a number of drugs that have long been widely demonized.

An Ohio-Based Source for Medical Marijuana Care

If you have one or more of the
22 qualifying health conditions that allow you to get a recommendation for medical cannabis and are curious if the treatment is right for you, contact Lakewood Medical Center today. During your free consultation, our staff of certified physicians and marijuana specialists will discuss your health goals and guide you through your options. Find the relief you need and get back to living life to the fullest.