With numerous states continuing to count the remaining ballots for the presidential race in these historic elections, others have posted news of state legalization that was on the ballot and approved, including cannabis legalization. This week, five more states approved the recreational and commercial sale of marijuana, expanding the legal cannabis industry in the United States.
New Jersey, Montana, Arizona, South Dakota and Mississippi all approved new measures to decriminalize and legalize recreational marijuana use after election day. Yahoo Finance reports that the new laws could add $ 9 billion to the marijuana industry
In Mississippi and South Dakota, state governments have until July 2021 to enact new regulations and rules to drive the new legislation forward. Other states will start retail sales sometime in 2021, though Montana is slated to start retail sales in January 2022, according to Tech Crunch. In New Jersey, the new measures are expected to take effect by January 2021.
"Legalization is the result of years of hard work by a diverse group of individuals and communities," Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, told NJ Advance Media. "Senator Nick Scutari's idea, which used to generate Snickers in the halls of Trenton when he first talked about it, has finally come true."
Despite federal restrictions, this wave of legalization would mean over 90 million people, or one in three Americans, live in a state where recreational cannabis use is now legal, adding pressure to those in the White House to legalize it at the federal level.
"Regardless of who controls the White House, House and Senate, we should be calling for landmark federal marijuana reform in 2021," Steve Hawkins, executive director of Marijuana Policy Projects, told Politico. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has previously spoken out in favor of decriminalizing drug use at the federal level. During the vice presidential debate, she said she would work with the Biden administration to clear records for those previously convicted of possession.