The 2018 midterm elections represent a major victory for marijuana policy reform advocates and the legal cannabis industry. Voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure Tuesday that will make cannabis legal and regulated for adults, making it the first Midwest state to legalize cannabis and setting the stage for regulated businesses to replace the illicit market there. Missouri and Utah approved medical cannabis ballot measures as well, providing access to effective medicine for millions of people and firmly solidifying a supermajority of states with robust medical marijuana laws. Voters in Missouri supported their medical cannabis initiative in greater numbers than the winning Republican Senate candidate, Attorney General Josh Hawley.
“This election proves that U.S. voters are ready and eager for comprehensive cannabis policy reform at the state and federal level,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “This is no longer a third-rail issue. Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents, allow states to determine their own cannabis policies, and start treating this burgeoning legal industry fairly. ”
With dozens of supportive congressional candidates winning on Tuesday and Democrats about to take control of key federal committees, advocates are confident that marijuana policy reform legislation will be actively considered in the House in the 2019 session. Bills to allow banks to more easily work with the cannabis industry and to address unfair federal taxation of cannabis are expected to make significant progress next year.
Voters in 12 states elected gubernatorial candidates that publicly support making cannabis legal for adults last night. Governors-elect Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois all made marijuana policy reform a central issue in their campaigns.
Cannabis is now legal for adults in ten states and the District of Columbia, and 33 states have effective medical marijuana laws. Cannabis is legal in some form in 47 states.