Maryland voted to allow recreational marijuana use during Tuesday’s midterm election — even though the issue lagged in early results in three of the four other states where it was on the ballot.
Electoral action in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota gave voters a chance to legalize marijuana in the 2022 election. The Associated Press
“A big part of the reason we saw that explosion [cannabis] Legislative ballot initiatives and their success are due to a fairly dramatic shift in views on the issue,” said John Hudak, associate director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.
More than two-thirds of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, compared with nearly 50% a decade ago when Colorado and Washington first legalized recreational cannabis.
Only 13 states ban marijuana outright, with no legal medical or recreational uses. It remains illegal under federal law.
Here’s how the effort went on election night:
Marylanders overwhelmingly supported legalization AP reports.
“Statewide polls have consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of Marylanders support the legalization of cannabis, and the outcome of this referendum has never been in doubt,” said Paul Armentano, associate director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in a press release. “Now it’s up to legislators to quickly pass rules to oversee a regulated cannabis market as voters demand.”
The passage of this amendment triggered supplementary legislation that would overturn convictions for conduct that became legal under the new law, provide grants to better support minority-owned businesses and women in the cannabis industry, and criminal penalties for possession of 2.5 Eliminate ounces of marijuana.
The purchase and possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis is now legal for those over the age of 21, and adults can also grow two cannabis plants for personal use.
The implementation of the referendum will take time. Possession of marijuana becomes a civil offense on January 1, 2023, with legalization for up to 1.5 ounces coming six months later.
“This legalization will help right the wrongs of the drug war and, you know, help affected communities,” Maryland Marijuana Justice President Kris Furnish told WOBC. “It was an attack on blacks and browns from day one and it has been to this day.”
What is the future of cannabis at the federal level?
Despite promises by Democratic leaders to legalize marijuana at the federal level, the issue remains deadlocked in Congress.
President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order pardoning more than 6,000 people charged with federal marijuana possession. The President also asked the Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review marijuana classification under federal law. It is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
And Hudak isn’t optimistic that state-by-state changes surrounding marijuana legalization will change much at the national level. “The idea that the number of states enacting legal cannabis will suddenly change something in Congress just hasn’t materialized in cannabis policy in the United States,” Hudak told TIME. “We have three-fourths of American states that have legalized medicinal cannabis that have not changed federal medicinal cannabis policy.”
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