Weed Between the Lines: Marijuana in the 2020 Election

The orgy of partisan chaos that is the 2020 US election is still raging, but at this point, many results are clear. Among them is the legalization of recreational cannabis in four new states: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. South Dakota also approved a medical cannabis system, and so did Mississippi, although recreational use is still not approved in the southern state.

The 2020 election added four new states with legal
recreational cannabis: AZ, MT, NJ, and SD.

With these results, the American West further entrenched itself as the vanguard region for cannabis politics, with Idaho the only state in the region that does not permit at least some kind of cannabis use. The Northeast is gaining steam as well, as are heavily populated Rust Belt states such as Michigan and Illinois.

Voter-approved weed in all these places looks a bit different. While Arizona’s measure provides for the immediate establishment of recreational sales within the state’s existing medical system, New Jersey’s measure only directs the state legislature to pass laws regulating the plant. South Dakota\’s law is similar in that it only provides for the establishment of a medical marijuana system and directs the legislature to “[set] the standards for legalizing the use of recreational marijuana.” The cannabis tax in South Dakota would be 15 percent, comparable to the rate in Colorado, which legalized in 2012. In Montana, voters approved a measure that would tax cannabis at 20 percent, higher than Colorado but lower than Washington’s 37 percent (WA also legalized in 2012). Montana’s relatively high tax rate basically ensures that the black market – including products procured in other legal states – will be Montanans” primary source for ganja until further notice.

In the context of the presidential race, cannabis appears to have no party affiliation. South Dakota and Montana went deep red, while Arizona flipped blue and New Jersey, as usual, was deep blue. The 2020 election affirms that cannabis may be the only truly bipartisan issue left among the American electorate.

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