Election Night a Mixed Bag for Marijuana Legalization

Posted: November 10, 2022

On November 8, 2022, several states had important marijuana measures on their ballots amid a non-presidential election with lower voter turnout among more liberal, pro-marijuana voters. In three out of the five states, the legalization measures failed, leading many to declare it a losing night for marijuana legalization.

Three States Reject Legalization Measures

Marijuana had a rough night in several states as voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota rejected ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana use, suggesting that there are still reservations about legalizing the drug that remains illegal under federal law. There were several opponents to the measures, such as Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Arkansas, who were successful in their efforts to block marijuana legalization in their states.

Missouri and Maryland Legalize Recreational Marijuana

On the flip side, voters in Maryland and Missouri overwhelmingly approved measures to legalize marijuana in their states. Missouri became to first Midwest state to legalize marijuana, allowing people 21 years old and older to “legally possess, purchase, consume, and cultivate marijuana for recreational purposes,” effective December 8, 2022.

The Missouri measure also provides employment protections for medical marijuana, prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee because he or she: (1) possesses a medical marijuana identification card; (2) lawfully uses marijuana off the employer’s premises during nonworking hours; or (3) tests positive for marijuana unless the employee was using, possessing, or under the influence of marijuana while at work.

In Maryland, voters also authorized “adults 21 and older to possess, smoke and grow marijuana.” The measure goes into effect July 1, 2023, allowing personal possession of up to 1.5 ounces. However, recreational marijuana sales will not be immediately available in Maryland. The measure also expunges previous marijuana convictions.

With the addition of Missouri and Maryland, recreational marijuana use is now legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

If you have questions about marijuana laws in your state, please contact our Client Service Ninjas at (877) 360-4636.

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