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2020 elections: 5 states pass legal marijuana measures, potentially growing industry by $9 billion

The once widely controversial issue of marijuana legalization has been decidedly eclipsed by this year’s divisive presidential race, though voters in five states broadly adopted legalization measures Tuesday. Recreational or medical use, or both, were on the ballot in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota.

Marijuana legalization in the additional U.S. states is estimated to grow the industry’s size by $9 billion, according to cannabis market firm New Frontier Data.

Arizona — Proposition 207

Voters said “yes” to Proposition 207 in Arizona supporting legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older, along with a 16% excise tax on the drug. Currently, the state permits only medical use, and outlaws recreational use and possession.

Image Credit: David Foster
Image Credit: David Foster

Mississippi — Ballot Measure 1, Initiative 65 & Initiative 65A

Mississippi voters asked to weigh in on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes said yes to the initiative and chose one of two medical marijuana legalization options that offered patients broader access to the drug. Recreational use will remain illegal in the state and was not up for consideration.


As a first step, under Ballot Measure 1, voters were asked to decide whether to legalize medical use. Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A were additional issues pending the outcome of medical legalization. Voters chose Initiative 65 which means Mississippi will allow use for 20 medical conditions, as well as cap quantities that patients can possess at 2.5 ounces. A vote for 65A would have meant more limited medical use.

Montana — I-190 & Constitutional Initiative 118

Adult recreational use was legalized under Montana’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or I-190, and Constitutional Initiative 118. The measures will legalize purchase and use for those 21 and older. Possession of the drug would be capped at 1 ounce, or less than 8 grams of concentrate.

New Jersey — Question 1

New Jersey voters legalized recreational use, saying “yes” to Question 1, after the vote failed in the state legislature, which means the state’s constitution will be amended to permit those who are 21 and older to use and possess marijuana, as well as to permit marijuana to be cultivated, processed, and sold in New Jersey.

South Dakota — Constitutional Amendment A & Measure 26

Voters in South Dakota supported Constitutional Amendment A to amend the state’s constitution to allow purchase and possession and distribution of up to one ounce of the drug, for those 21 years old and older.

Measure 26 also passed, requiring the state to form a medical marijuana program for use, possession, and home cultivation of plants for people with qualifying medical conditions.

The state legislature is required to draft and pass new laws to establish a state medical marijuana program by no later than April 1, 2021.

This story was updated with election results on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Read more:

Prop 22 explained: What’s at stake for Uber and Lyft in California’s most expensive ballot race

Elections 2020: Here’s who workers at America’s biggest employers are backing for president

What is Section 230, the controversial internet law Trump wants to dismantle?

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance and former litigation attorney.

Follow Alexis Keenan on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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