If nothing else, the political unrest in the United States over the last couple of years has encouraged many lackadaisical voters to take their constitutional privilege more seriously. In an unprecedented event, a record number of voters flocked to the polls yesterday to make their voices heard. Although it will likely be several weeks before the official figures are released, early estimates show more than 114 million voters cast their ballots in the 2018 midterms this year, a cool 31 million votes more than in 2014. In fact, experts estimate 2018 could see the highest voter turnout for a midterm election since 1970.
In an email to CannabisTech this morning, Patrick Vo, CEO of BioTrack THC, spoke of the victories and the overall impact voters have, stating “In the modern cannabis market, sensible regulation should be synonymous with legalization. In order to create an industry that the general public can support, implementing tools for supply chain oversight in this emerging industry is essential. That oversight enables product safety for consumers, eliminates potential diversion, and enforces accountability to all parties involved. By continuing to bring cannabis into the light, we are slowly eroding the long-standing stigma associated with cannabis. In states whose citizens have just approved adult-use cannabis, it’s a new era. In states whose citizens have just approved medical cannabis, they’re joining a growing majority. The clock is ticking for the federal government to develop a coherent and uniform approach that will allow cannabis businesses to operate transparently and protect public safety, as in any other industry.”
We certainly agree on one thing
Although political opinions vary from state to state, marijuana legalization appears to be providing a little common ground for voters regardless of political affiliation. While the Republicans like the economic implications and the growing global market, the Democrats love the compassion and vast medical potential presented by the plant. Meanwhile, the Libertarians believe drugs should be your individual decision anyway, and the Green Party – well, you don’t get much greener than cannabis and hemp.
On the Ballot
Four states had cannabis initiatives on the ballot this election. Each had unique qualities and exceptional circumstances. Additionally, Ohio and Wisconsin also had smaller initiatives and advisory referendums.
While many expected the conservative state of Utah to be one of the last states to legalize cannabis, Proposition 2 passed with more than 53% of voters supporting the initiative. Whether the Utah Senator who enjoyed a cannabis gummy on YouTube had much influence on the vote is unclear.
Joline Rivera, advocate and publisher of Stack Awards-shortlisted Kitchen Toke magazine, congratulated Missouri voters for approving medical cannabis by saying, “Missouri’s many medical cannabis patients will soon be able to access the previously prohibited medicine, and this is a victory for compassionate access and modern medicine. In recent years we’ve greatly expanded our knowledge of the health benefits of cannabis. While legalization is no longer unique to this country, it’s still encouraging to see more states changing their outdated drug policy.”
With three separate initiatives for medical marijuana on the ballot, at least one was sure to pass. Voters in Missouri took a philanthropic approach by voting for a program which includes a 4% retail sales tax with the proceeds going to aid veteran affairs. Additionally, physicians can recommend cannabis for any reason they see fit – there’s no predetermined list of conditions.
55 percent of voters in Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize adult-use for anyone over the age of 21. The state plans to apply a 10% excise tax on all recreational sales in addition to regular state taxes. The revenue is slated for implementing the program, as well as, fund schools, infrastructure, and research into the medical efficacy of cannabis for Veterans with PTSD and other conditions.
Dan Anglin, CEO of CannAmerica Brands, as well as, Detroit native and marijuana policy expert weighed in on the Michigan election in his statement, “As we celebrated the world’s first adult-use cannabis marketplace in Colorado in 2012, I distinctly remember hoping the same day would eventually come for my beloved home state of Michigan. And so today is not only a celebration of sensible drug policy in the Wolverine State—it’s a celebration of personal freedom.”
Likewise, Wisconsin voters had the opportunity to voice their opinion in 16 counties and two cities across the state with an overwhelming response showing support for a marijuana referendum. With 23 ballot initiatives related to cannabis, all of them passed by a wide margin, with more than 1 million voters saying yes to cannabis reform in the Badger State.
NoDak: The Sole Loser
Unfortunately, North Dakota gets the opportunity to remind us, that we can’t all be winners. In the only cannabis ballot initiative which failed, Measure 3 was too loosely defined to make voters comfortable with the change and rejected by nearly 60% of voters.
Clearly, the winds of change are sweeping across the nation in regards to cannabis policy. As individual states continue to show overwhelming support for reform, the biggest question on the horizon is low long can the federal lawmakers continue to ignore the will of the public?