Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota Legalize Marijuana
Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota approve medical marijuana ballot initiatives
Washington, D.C. — Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota have legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, as voters in each state approved their respective ballot initiatives at the ballot box. South Dakota also passed a medical marijuana initiative and became the first state in American history to enact both policies on the same day. The Marijuana Policy Project was instrumental in the Montana and South Dakota campaigns.
“This historic set of victories will place even greater pressure on Congress to address the glaring and untenable conflicts between state and federal laws when it comes to cannabis legalization,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which was founded in 1995 and has played a central role in 10 state-level legalization victories over the past eight years.
“From the Badlands to the Jersey Shore, and from the Grand Canyon to Big Sky Country, Americans across the country have embraced the idea that marijuana legalization is the policy decision that best serves the interests of public health, public safety, and, most importantly, justice,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the Montana and South Dakota campaigns.
“With the passage of these initiatives, one-third of the population now lives in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 70% of all states have embraced cannabis for medical use. The federal government is out of step with a clear national trend toward legalization,” said Hawkins. “We can put an end to the social injustices and other harms that result from the criminalization of marijuana. While cannabis legalization is not the cure-all to end the war on drugs, it is a necessary step and would provide an opportunity for many long-oppressed communities to finally have a chance to heal.”
“Regardless of who controls the White House, the House, and the Senate, we should demand landmark federal marijuana reform in 2021,” added Hawkins. “This is not a partisan issue. And with more Republican Senators representing states with medical marijuana and legal marijuana for adults, we’re hopeful that marijuana reform can serve as an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. It’s also worth noting that the victory in New Jersey has the potential to accelerate reform efforts in neighboring states.”
Heading into Election Day, 11 states had legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over, and 34 states had legalized medical marijuana. Now, there are 15 legalization states and 36 medical marijuana states in the country.