As numerous states continue to count the remaining ballots for the presidential race in this historic election, others have made news with state legalization that was on the ballot and has been approved, including cannabis legalization. This week, five more states approved the recreational use and commercial sale for marijuana, expanding the legal cannabis industry across the United States.
New Jersey, Montana, Arizona, South Dakota, and Mississippi have all approved new measures to decriminalize and legalize the recreational use of marijuana following election day. Yahoo Finance reports that the new laws could expand the marijuana industry by $9 billion
In Mississippi and South Dakota, the state governments have until July 2021 to set new regulations and establish rules to move the new legislation forward. Other states are moving to start retail sales sometime in 2021, though Montana is set to start retail sales in January 2022, according to Tech Crunch. In New Jersey, the new measures are set to be enacted by January 2021.
“Legalization is the result of years of hard work from a diverse group of individuals and communities,” said Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, to NJ Advance Media. “Senator Nick Scutari’s idea that used to generate snickers in the halls of Trenton when he first talked about it has finally become a reality.”
Despite the federal restrictions put in place, this wave of legalization would now mean that over 90 million people, or 1 in 3 Americans, live in a state where recreational use of cannabis is now legal, putting more pressure on those in the White House to legalize it on a federal level.
“Regardless of who controls the White House, the House, and the Senate, we should demand landmark federal marijuana reform in 2021,” Steve Hawkins, executive director of Marijuana Policy Projects, said to Politico. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has come out before in support of decriminalizing the schedule one drug federally. During the vice presidential debate, she said she will work with the Biden administration to expunge records for those who have previously been convicted for possession.