Cannabis and the Midterms

On Election Day, three of four cannabis voter measures passed, bringing adult-use legalization to Michigan, and medical cannabis to Utah and Missouri. There were also dozens of congressional, gubernatorial, and local results with implications for the future of cannabis in the US. 

And there was one shakeup in particular that could have big implications for the national cannabis industry. In Texas, Republican Pete Sessions, who has blocked cannabis-related amendments in Congress as chairman of the Rules Committee, lost to Democrat Colin Allred. With Democrats taking control of the House, and Sessions losing that committee seat, there is a path forward to at least discussion of national cannabis legislation. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of cannabis movement in Texas, and efforts to oust Rep. Pete Sessions.) 

Cannabis Wire reporters and editors were live tweeting results throughout the night and speaking with candidates and campaigns about what’s to come. We compiled all of that great coverage into a comprehensive Midterm Edition of Cannabis Wire’s morning newsletter, (which, if you haven’t already signed up, is a daily must-read for those keeping an eye on cannabis developments).

Below we’ve included a roundup of the the ballot measure results, with links to Cannabis Wire’s previous pieces so you can catch up on how these measures took shape.

In Michigan, voters passed Proposition 1 to legalize cannabis for adult use, making the state the 10th (plus D.C.) to do so. The measure gained support in the Midwestern state through compromise, like local control and protection of employers’ rights to drug test.

The adult-use cannabis industry will have an ally in Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, who defeated Republican Bill Schuette, the state’s attorney general. “I’ll work with everyone who wants to ensure we tax and regulate marijuana responsibly,” Whitmer told Cannabis Wire.

In Missouri, voters saw for the first time in US history three medical cannabis measures on a single state ballot. But only one, Amendment 2, the initiative sponsored by New Approach Missouri, passed.

“In becoming the 31st state to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients with serious and debilitating illnesses, Missourians showed that increasing health care treatment options for patients and supporting veterans are bipartisan Missouri values,” New Approach spokesperson Jack Cardetti said in a statement to reporters.

Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the dark money and wealthy backers behind two of the three measures—and what could be ahead for Missouri medical cannabis patients.

In North Dakota, Measure 3, which would have legalized cannabis, failed.

North Dakotans voted against a measure that would legalize cannabis for adult use and automatically expunge cannabis-related criminal records. The initiative, Measure 3, was sponsored by Legalize ND. The committee was spearheaded by David Owen, who according to the Grand Forks Herald is a biology student at the University of North Dakota.

Two opposition groups, North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, and Healthy and Productive North Dakota, a regional chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), spent hundreds of thousands to combat the measure, and were thrilled with the results.

“This is a great day not only for North Dakota but also the rest of America. We have stopped Big Marijuana from using our state as it has others in its constant attempts to become the next Big Tobacco,” Kristie Spooner, president of Healthy and Productive North Dakota, said in a press release to reporters. “We are indebted to our volunteers for showing voters why allowing marijuana in would have forever changed what we have built.”

In Utah, after substantial pushback from the Mormon Church and Drug Safe Utah, Prop 2 passed to legalize medical cannabis.

“Given the political theatrics we have endured this entire campaign, the disinformation, the propaganda, the lies and deceit from the opposition, I think we’ve done an amazing job,” Christine Stenquist, director of the advocacy group TRUCE told Cannabis Wire. “For a conservative red state that is so heavily dominated by a faith-based organization, we did really really well and I’m proud of us.”

Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the Mormon pushback against Prop 2, and just how big of a role faith played into the Prop 2 efforts.

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