Marijuana legalization advocates saw mixed results as legalization votes were counted Tuesday, with voters in Maryland and Missouri approving recreational use for adults but Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota refused the offer.
Maryland and Missouri bring the list of states where recreational drug use is legal to 21. Maryland passed the vote easily, with nearly two-thirds of voters in favor. In conservative Missouri, the measure won 53 percent.
But recreational activities have not been expanded in three other states, including South Dakota, which passed a measure to create a recreational market by 2020 but was struck down by a state judge last year. This year’s referendum will allow recreational activities but not establish a commercial market.
South Dakota’s campaign received just 47.1 percent of the vote this year.
The Arkansas program received 43.7 percent.
North Dakota received 45.1 percent.
Despite the losses, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the advocacy group Marijuana Legal Reform, said Wednesday that the country’s momentum is still good at validation.
There is less turnover in midterm elections than in presidential years, which could explain the South Dakota results, he said.
And many Republican candidates ran on a “law-and-order” message because GOP voters have become less receptive to marijuana laws, he added.
“At least, it’s a temporary retreat; it will never stop our speed” he said. “We’re stronger today than we were yesterday because two more states have legalized adult use of marijuana and we’ve gone from 19 legal states to 21 legal states.”
In 2023 and 2024, many countries will agree to ratification, Armentano said.
The administration is targeting Ohio for a 2023 ballot measure while state lawmakers elsewhere will try to change the law through traditional legislative methods, he said.
Sunday’s results in Minnesota, where Democrats flipped the state Senate and controlled both chambers and the governor’s office last year, also made that state a target for lawmakers, he says.
However, the defeats in the independent states in the South and the West will show the limits of the ratification through the electoral process, which will be accepted in half of the states.
Since Colorado and Washington approved recreational activities 10 years ago, similar measures have been passed, but mostly in blue and purple coastal states.
A Colorado ballot measure to legalize psychedelic mushrooms was on the way to narrowing, with 51 percent of voters supporting the illegal product.