Voters in four states have acted this November to legalize marijuana.
Although the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal controlled substance, voters in several states have just approved ballot measures to legalize marijuana for personal or medical use under state law.
It’s about time! An estimated 27.7 million American citizens used marijuana in some form in 2018, roughly 10.1 percent of the population. And a Pew Research Center study conducted last September found that 67 percent of Americans feel that cannabis should be legal and that 91 percent feel that it should at least be legal for medicinal purposes.
The 2020 Marijuana Measures
On November 3, 2020, voters in four states — Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota — approved statewide ballot measures to legalize marijuana for personal use. Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota approved statewide ballot measures to legalize marijuana for medical use.
As of November 2020, 11 states and the District of Columbia had already legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, and 33 states and the District of Columbia had passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana.
Following are the cannabis-related statewide measures that were on the ballot in 2020 and that voters approved (one of two alternatives in the case of Mississippi):
- Arizona Proposition 207: Marijuana Legalization Initiative
- Mississippi Ballot Measure 1 (Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A): Medical Marijuana Amendment (voters approved Initiative 65)
- Montana CI-118: Allow for a Legal Age for Marijuana Amendment
- Montana I-190: Marijuana Legalization Initiative
- New Jersey Public Question 1: Marijuana Legalization Amendment
- South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A: Marijuana Legalization Initiative
- South Dakota Initiated Measure 26: Medical Marijuana Initiative
The History of Cannabis Legalization in the U.S.
That these states have voted on legalization is a big deal. Marijuana was made illegal in the United States in 1927 under the Marihuana Act. Unlike hemp, which was federally legalized in 2018, marijuana still falls under the Controlled Substances Act of 1937 as a Schedule I substance — meaning it is illegal to possess, consume, manufacture, or distribute.
The following states and the District of Columbia have approved recreational marijuana use through ballot measures or legislative acts:
- 2012: Washington and Colorado
- 2014: The District of Columbia, Oregon, and Alaska
- 2016: California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts
- 2018: Michigan and Vermont
- 2019: Illinois
- 2020: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota
To date, a total of 35 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use: 20 through ballot measures and 16 through laws passed in their state legislatures. The following states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for personal use: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington state, and Washington, DC.
As cannabis continues to gain acceptance and legal status throughout the country, we expect that the market for CBD products — perhaps the largest part of the legal cannabis market — will continue to flourish.
Here at Crescent Canna, we’ve been working with local legislators and advocates to expand access to hemp and CBD in our home state of Louisiana. As research and investment in cannabis grow, and as more policymakers discover its potential, we look forward to more and more people learning about and benefiting from CBD and other cannabis-derived products.