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Cannabis news outlet Marijuana Moment tracked six statewide cannabis and drug policy reform initiatives on the 2022 midterm election ballots, in addition to a number of local measures in states across the country. 

Cannabis legalization expands to 21 states

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Recreational cannabis is also legal in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

When asked, “Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1st, 2023, in the state of Maryland?”, 65.53% of Maryland voters said “yes.” As reported by Marijuana Moment, now that the measure has been approved by voters, it will trigger the implementation of a complementary bill that will set basic regulations for the adult-use cannabis program.

A similar initiative passed in Missouri with a smaller percentage (53.81%) of voters casting their ballot in favor of legalizing cannabis in their state. This initiative, which contained details regarding the particulars of implementing this legislation, received some criticism from some advocates such as the Missouri NAACP and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) for not including adequate provisions to ensure equity and restorative justice for those black and brown populations most adversely impacted by the failed War on Drugs. 

Local cannabis initiatives overwhelmingly pass

Voters in cities across Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin overwhelmingly passed local cannabis measures. In Texas, voters in Denton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen, and San Marcos passed the cannabis measures on their ballots. Already Austin voters strongly approved a marijuana decriminalization measure in May 2022, and San Antonio could get the chance to locally decriminalize marijuana in May 2023. Given statewide citizen initiatives are not permitted in Texas, cannabis policy changes are decided on at the local level. 

Ohio voters decided on decriminalization in Corning, Hemlock, Kent, Laurelville, Rushville, and Shawnee with every jurisdiction except Hemlock passing the reform. Also, Wisconsin voters in three counties and five municipalities across the state made their voices heard by voting yes to all nine local reform measures on the ballot.

In addition, six months after Rhode Island governor Gov. Dan McKee (D) signed a legalization bill into law. voters in 33 cities were asked to allow adult-use marijuana businesses and sales in their jurisdictions. Rhode Island voters in 25 cities approved this local ballot referendum.

Colorado says “yes” to legalizing select psychedelics

More than four years after Denver voted to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, voters in Colorado voted to legalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi. With an estimated 79% of the votes in 51.29% of voters said “yes” to “Prop 12 Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative Ballot Question.” With the passage of this initiative, Oregon and Colorado remain the only states where consumers can legally partake in select psychedelics.

Are red states becoming receptive to medical marijuana?  

Voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected legalizing cannabis in their respective states for adult use. However, all of the states with recreational marijuana on the ballot already voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Along those lines, except for Maryland, these states voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, thus pointing to a more relaxed attitude towards at least medicinal marijuana in decidedly “red states.” 

A referendum on adult-use cannabis in Oklahoma was certified too late to appear on the November 202 ballot, though this will be the subject of a special election to be held in March 2023. In a similar vein, the legalization of cannabis in Minnesota got a major boost with voters flipping the state Senate and giving Democrats majorities in both chambers while re-electing the pro-reform Democratic governor.

In national cannabis legislative news, following the news that President Biden will pardon some people convicted for simple possession of cannabis at the Federal level, the U.S. House Oversight Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee posted a notice on November 7, 2022, stating that a meeting titled “Developments in State Cannabis Laws and Bipartisan Cannabis Reforms at the Federal Level,” will take place on November 15, 2022.  Top cannabis reformers and the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama are expected to testify. So far there is no indication this meeting will be delayed should the Republicans regain control of the House.

As a freelance writer with dual MDiv/MSW degree from Yale Divinity School and Columbia University, I focus on the rise of secular spirituality, religious satire, spiritual health & wellness, faith...

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