Voters OK Marijuana in 5 More States

Oregon votes to permit sale of psychedelic mushrooms. 

November 05, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Voters in five states, New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, Montana and Mississippi, have approved ballot measures to legalize marijuana in some form, ABC News reports.

A majority of New Jersey and Arizona residents voted yes on ballot measures to make recreational marijuana use by adults legal. Voters in South Dakota approved marijuana for medical use, and Mississippi voters approved an initiative to establish a medical marijuana program for patients with debilitating conditions. Voters in Montana okayed two initiatives to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. South Dakota has approved a ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, Oregon voted to permit the sale of psychedelic mushrooms.

With the dip in the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cannabis sector appeared to be a positive route for retailers, so long as it continued to be legalized in more states. The District of Columbia and 11 other states allowed legal recreational marijuana use prior to Election Day.

But don’t expect to see retail marijuana stores pop up in the next few months. The initiatives are only the first step in the process, said John Hudak, deputy director at the Brookings Institution and a specialist in state and federal marijuana policy. After the measures are approved, the individual state legislatures must set up regulatory structures.

South Dakota had two measures on the ballot. Measure 26 will establish a medical cannabis program and registration system for individuals with qualifying conditions, while Amendment A will legalize cannabis for all adults and require state legislators to establish medical cannabis and hemp laws, reports CNN.

By approving both measures, South Dakota successfully bypassed a traditionally multi-step process. Many states have followed a multi-year path toward full legalization, starting with decriminalization, followed by medical use and then full legalization. No other state has ever completed multiple steps at the same time.

In Arizona, the approval of Proposition 207 will allow adults 21 and older to possess, consume or transfer up to one ounce of cannabis, and it requires the state to create a regulatory system for cultivation and sale of the drug. 

Montana had two initiatives on the ballot. Initiative 190 will allow adults in the state to possess and buy cannabis for recreational use and defined a 20% tax on recreational cannabis. It will also permit anyone serving sentences for certain cannabis-related acts to apply for resentencing or records expungement. Initiative 118 would amend the state's constitution to establish 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume cannabis.

Mississippi had two dueling proposals to legalize medical marijuana. The state's unique ballot structure asked voters whether they would approve either Initiative 65 or Initiative 65A, or were against both. Initiative 65 would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis for patients with any of 22 qualifying conditions, including cancer and multiple sclerosis, and would establish a regulatory program for businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis. Those products will be taxed at a 7% rate. Initiative 65A will limit the smoking of medical cannabis to people who are terminally ill and would leave the regulatory framework up to the legislature.

In Oregon, voters approved a measure to permit the sale of psychedelic mushrooms by 56%, reports Measure 109 allows for the growth, administration and sale of psilocybin mushrooms in licensed facilities, with the Oregon Health Authority regulating the program. The measure includes a two-year developmental period before the implementation of the new program. 

The NACS Crack the Code Experience, which runs through December 4, offers a multifaceted look at the cannabis category. Education sessions such as “Canna-venience Case Studies,” “CBD-infused Foodservice: History of Hemp,” “CBD-infused Foodservice: Legal and Regulatory Status of Hemp/CBD,” “CBD-infused Foodservice: Consumer Trends in the Sale and Use of CBD” and “Cannabis in the Age of COVID” go over essential knowledge retailers need to know as they enter this new and emerging category. Register now and get access to these sessions, along with 50+ education sessions, virtual showrooms and online networking within the convenience and fuel retailing industries.