Cannabis Industry Reacts as Adult-Use Legalized in 2 More States

Five states had ballot measures to consider.

Voters were taken to task in five states on whether to approve recreational marijuana, and the results were mixed.

Three states rejected the ballot measures before them:

However, Maryland (65.5%) and Missouri (53.1%) both approved adult-use cannabis.

While those in the industry hoped for a clean sweep, or even a majority grab, many view the results as meaningful developments while federal reconsideration of the plant’s legality gears up.

Troy Datcher, CEO, The Parent Company

Troy Datcher, CEO, The Parent Co.

Today, Maryland voters overwhelmingly voted to repeal the failed policy of cannabis criminalization, which has resulted in the disproportionate incarceration of people of color, particularly in Maryland’s urban communities, for generations. I’m encouraged that Question 4 mandates automatic expungement for eligible cannabis offenses and contains robust resentencing provisions for those that were unfairly criminalized by the decades-long War on Drugs in Maryland.

The fact that Question 4 garnered more support than any adult-use cannabis ballot measure in the country’s history speaks to the shared support that Americans of all political stripes have for moving past the unjust cannabis laws that have criminalized Americans for nearly a century. Tuesday’s vote also reflects the massive potential of adult-use legalization to stimulate Maryland’s economy, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for its residents and generating considerable tax revenue for the state.

Matt Darin, CEO, Curaleaf

We’re thrilled with the Maryland outcome, of course, as we have four dispensaries in the state, and it’s also great to see states like Missouri also adopting adult use. And even though it didn’t pass, seeing more Republican-leaning states like North Dakota and Arkansas continue to have cannabis on the ballot is encouraging. This sends a signal to the federal government that there is widespread public support for cannabis legalization – over 68% by the latest polls.

With 21 adult-use states now, the next step we need to see is SAFE banking, along with sensible legislative reform that provides relief for cannabis businesses of all sizes, and we’re encouraged by the bipartisan support we’ve seen on that front of late.

Joe Caltabiano, co-founder, Cresco Labs

Joe Caltabiano

Although the industry would have preferred that every state cannabis initiative had passed, one of the best outcomes of this election is that it increases the number of U.S. Congressional representatives who now serve voters that have declared their preference for a legal and regulated cannabis industry.

With the success of the Maryland and Missouri ballot initiatives, any remaining excuses that further delay meaningful federal cannabis reform – particularly SAFE banking – lack any merit. It is time that Congress listens to the majority of states with legalized cannabis industries that are struggling under the weight of unfair taxation, and regulatory and financial burdens that no other industry must endure.

Brian Vicente, founding partner, Vicente Sederberg

This was yet another historic election year for the cannabis policy reform movement. States in all four corners of the country voted to roll back failed prohibition policies and replace them with sensible laws that regulate cannabis similarly to other legal products. These new state laws will end the needless criminalization of countless individuals who use cannabis responsibly for medical, therapeutic or recreational purposes.

These states will see significant economic benefits as the legal cannabis industry continues to expand and supplant the illicit market. The new business opportunities, job creation, and tax revenue that accompany these news laws could not come at a better time, as states work to make up ground lost to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Nancy Whiteman, CEO, Wana Brands

Nancy Whiteman, CEO, Wana Brands

We applaud the decision by Missouri voters to enhance the lives of residents by approving the sale of recreational cannabis to adults. Not only will the passage of Amendment 3 help raise millions of revenue for critical veteran and mental health services, but Missouri residents with low-level cannabis offenses will be able to expunge these convictions from their record, finally addressing the inequities of the War on Drugs.

The rejection of Issue 4 by Arkansas voters represents a lost opportunity by the state to reduce the workload of police while raising needed tax revenue for state services and to support law enforcement. We are hopeful that leaders in the state will continue to push for expansion of access to cannabis for adults in the coming months and years.

Jason Nelson, CEO, BeLeaf Medical and Swade Medical Dispensaries

In what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Missouri voters made history in this election by approving recreational sales of cannabis in a way that helps to fund critical needs of Missouri while addressing some of the injustices of the failed War on Drugs. We look forward to working with the state to get recreational sales underway, and we are excited by the opportunities to hire more Missourians and increase our engagement with community organizations across the state as BeLeaf expands its operations.

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen. Now the consequential work to maximize the collective benefits from Amendment 3 truly begins.

Gary Santo, CEO, TILT Holdings

Congratulations to voters in Missouri and Maryland on the passage of their respective cannabis ballot initiatives. These states now join 19 other states where adult-use cannabis is legal.  

These state legislatures now have the important task of establishing regulatory frameworks for adult-use markets that serve the very citizens and communities that voted for greater access to cannabis – creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and driving investment, and revitalization efforts.

And for those disappointed voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, we encourage you to continue advocating the economic and health benefits of cannabis. The industry will continue to do the same at both the federal and state level to support moving us all forward to legalization and greater accessibility.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson covers the cannabis industry for The Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri statehouse for The Columbia Missourian and freelanced for The Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants, and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.


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