In those states where questions about drug policy reform were on the ballot during the US Election, results show an intriguing pattern: according to the figures, cannabis was a more popular topic than Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
While the two candidates fought in 50 states and a federal district, cannabis was only on seven ballots. However, figures indicated that the proposed drug policy reforms were common ground; political sympathy did not play a significant role in deciding to legalise the drug in all seven states.
Even solid Republican states, such as Montana or South Dakota, voted for adult-use. It should be noted SD also decided to legalise medicinal cannabis.
It is well reported that during the campaign, neither candidate endorsed cannabis legalisation or proposed a change in the federal policy.
When we looked at what would happen to the drug on the national level in the next four years, we found that apart from Mr Biden’s pledge to decriminalise cannabis, everything is thought to stay as it is now.
It is still a surprise that, in most cases, cannabis ended up outperforming both Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the US Election. Where it didn’t, cannabis still received more votes than at least one of the candidates.
In Arizona, where four years ago voters chose not to legalise adult use, 1,956,382 people voted for full legalisation. At the same time, Joe Biden, who is only the second Democrat nominee winning the state since 1948, received 1,672,143 votes.
Mississippi, a real Republican state, was an important one. Jay Czarkowsk of CannaAdvisors, when talking about the possible outcome of the cannabis vote in each state, said: “Regionally, Mississippi is equally significant as New Jersey. It’ll be the first ballot initiative for the Deep South. It’s significant for the states down there to follow suit.”
Well, cannabis made it to the South after all: 774,386 people voted ‘Yes’ to establish a “Medicinal Cannabis Program. It’s telling that Donald Trump, who won the state, got only 756,731 and Joe Biden 539,494 votes.
In Montana, although more people voted for Trump (343,602) than for legalising cannabis (341,031), Joe Biden was nowhere near (244,786).
New Jersey voted overwhelmingly for allowing adult use (2,637,630), while Joe Biden, who won by a landslide, only received 2,607,331. Donald Trump didn’t even reach two million votes.
In Oregon, in a landmark decision, voters decided to “decriminalise possession of all drugs and legalise psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes”. Only Biden got more votes (1,346,349) than either question about drug policy reform.
South Dakota said yes to medicinal and recreational cannabis, too. In this historically Republican state, Joe Biden had no chance even against cannabis.
Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell told CNN Business: “With every new state that passes or adopts an adult-use cannabis law, you’ve just got to think you have two more senators now in D.C. who represent states that have adult-use cannabis laws.”
More voices in the Senate might be just the beginning. It’s clear that future president Joe Biden will be under massive pressure to cooperate with the cannabis industry.
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Roland Sebestyen is a Hungarian journalist with over six years experience in the field. He has worked for some of the most popular, independent national newspapers in his country. In 2019 he moved to Sheffield to study on the NCTJ-accredited MA journalism course at the University of Sheffield. Roland is now a news and feature writer for Canex.