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Voter Ballot Initiatives Pass in 5 States in a Huge Win for Legal Cannabis

History in the making on election day! 4 states passed adult-use cannabis, and 2 passed medical. We provide info and an outlook on future drug policy reform.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Nov. 13, 2020 · 6 min read
Voter Ballot Initiatives Pass in 5 States in a Huge Win for Legal Cannabis

With historic wins for several states and a massive blow dealt to the drug war, policy reform makes significant progress - pointing to a bright future.

All of the drug policy reform voter ballot initiatives for 2020 have passed! A recreational cannabis market will officially be established in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana. This is a huge victory for cannabis advocates, as the deeply entrenched layers of the drug war are peeled back. Here’s a brief recap of the outcomes after election day, state-by-state. For deeper information on individual state markets, check out our pre-election coverage.


The Grand Canyon state officially joins other west-coast states with legal adult-use cannabis: Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. Lawmakers are now tasked with developing regulations for the recreational market, which must happen by April of 2021. Dispensaries should become operational at that time as well - right in time for 420. The passing of the adult-use market in Arizona could improve its already robust medical program as well.


Voters in Montana said yes to statutory initiative 190, thanks to impressive work by the activist group New Approach Montana. These dedicated activists managed to gather 190,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, despite lockdowns and other COVID-19 related complications. The Montana Department of Revenue will now be in charge of licensing qualifying dispensaries and establishing regulations for the legal cannabis market.

New Jersey

The majority of voters in New Jersey said yes to Public Question 2, approving an adult-use market. The Garden State legislature must now pass enabling legislation to implement the legal cannabis system. Governor Phil Murphy recently said he believed the state lawmakers would approve the ballot referendum. “God willing, it’ll pass. We’ll then work with the legislature to get that up and running,” said Murphy.


New Jersey will influence policymakers in neighboring states New York and Pennsylvania, both of which have the lucrative potential for legal adult-use cannabis markets. Governors in both states, New York's Andrew Cuomo and Pennsylvania's Tom Wolf, have come out in favor of recreational markets in their respective areas multiple times for years now - but both have failed to make anything happen. If New Jersey’s adult-use market is a success, lawmakers in New York and Pennsylvania will observe the potential tax revenue that legal cannabis brings - as both states are perpetually operating under-budget.

South Dakota

Voters in South Dakota officially made their state the first-ever to establish both medical and recreational programs simultaneously. This historic victory for cannabis and plant medicine will likely set a standard for other states who vote on legalization - proving that both can be done at the same time.


Almost 70 percent of voters in Mississippi said yes to ballot Initiative 65 - legalizing and establishing a medical program in the state. This passing of medical cannabis in Mississippi could influence neighboring southern states Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. Cannabis is still fully illegal in all three of these states at the time of this writing.

Oregon and D.C. Strike Back Against the Drug War

Psychedelic plants and hallucinogenic fungi like psilocybin are decriminalized in Washington D.C., placing them at a “low level of law enforcement priority.” Many mental health professionals are interested in research for administering micro-doses of mushrooms to help with issues like depression. There has also been some interest in utilizing mushrooms to help people recover from addictions. Oregon is now the first state to legalize mushrooms for mental health treatments in supervised settings.

"The American people on election day 2020 struck back against the antiquated, failed war on drugs."

Additionally, Oregon becomes the first state to legalize all. Illegal drugs in Oregon will now be decriminalized and treated as a medical issue - not a criminal one. Personal use possession of all illegal drugs that are scheduled on the controlled substances list will be punishable by a citation or a fine, and not an arrest. Offenders will also have the option to receive treatment and potentially avoid having the offense show up on their criminal record. In an ongoing opioid epidemic, this is how possession of drugs for personal use should be treated - offering people help instead of possibly ruining their lives.

The American people on election day 2020 struck back against the antiquated, failed war on drugs. After a challenging 2020, all of us in the cannabis community needed some good news, and these victories gave us just that. These victories are certainly ones to build on moving forward, with possible more states legalizing in 2022, 2024, and beyond.

HashDash - Cultivating Community and Supporting Legal Cannabis

We hope you found value in our content on voter ballot initiatives and are as excited as we are for the future of legal cannabis. Check back to our blog often, because we post fresh content every week! Connect with us on social media: @hashdash.com on all platforms.

HashDash is compiling an entire information database that will continue to answer your questions regarding all things cannabis, as well as where to find the best dispensaries in your area. Be sure to sign up for HashDash if you haven’t already to discover your cannabis matches. As always, thanks for reading, and happy consuming!

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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