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Support for marijuana use grows as 5 states approve some form of legalization

Posted at 3:48 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 11:59:45-05

A big winner in this year's election was the marijuana industry, as five states approved some form of legalization.

Mississippi approved it for medicinal use. Arizona, Montana and New Jersey approved it for recreational use. South Dakota approved it for both and became the first state to approve both forms of marijuana in the same election.

The Drug Policy Alliance says it never expected the support in some states, but hopes it sends a message to lawmakers in Washington D.C.

“It doesn’t just stop at marijuana reform,” said Matt Sutton with the Drug Policy Alliance. “People are really seeing drugs as being something that shouldn’t be criminalized in the U.S. and they definitely took that with them to the ballot box.”

Changes could happen on the federal level. Congress was supposed to vote on the MORE Act in September. The bill would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the list of controlled substances and expunge many previous convictions.

The Drug Policy Alliance says the bill is now expected to go to a vote by the end of the year and hopes the momentum at the state level translates to a victory at the federal level.

“I am hoping that this wave of victories across the country will definitely send a message to Congress and really light a fire under them to pass the MORE Act,” said Sutton.

It wasn't just marijuana that won on election night. Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal to decriminalize possession of all drugs.

People caught possessing hard drugs would have the option to pay a $100 fine or attend an addiction recovery center. Those centers are funded by the money generated by the tax revenue from Oregon’s legalized marijuana industry.