Demonstrators gather in the street near the White House. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
Voters in two states approved legalizing recreational cannabis through ballot initiatives on Tuesday's midterm elections, per the Associated Press.
Why it matters: Before Election Day 2022, at least 20 states and the District of Columbia had legalized cannabis for nonmedical use.
Maryland, Missouri vote to legalize
Maryland: Voters legalized the possession and sharing of 1.5 ounces of recreational pot for people 21 or older as soon as July 2023 through a measure, per AP.
- The measure also allows people convicted of possession with the intent to distribute cannabis to file a petition to expunge the conviction three years after serving their sentence.
Missouri: State voters approved an amendment to “remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possessing, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing, and selling” cannabis for adults who are 21 and older, according to the AP.
- Voters previously legalized medical cannabis possession in 2018.
North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas reject legalization
North Dakota: Voters declined to pass a measure that would have allowed adults who are 21 and older to possess and purchase 1 ounce of recreational marijuana starting 30 days after the election, AP reports.
Arkansas: Voters in Arkansas voted against an amendment to allow people who are 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of recreational cannabis and buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries for any reason, per AP.
- Arkansas voters first legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and dispensaries began opening in 2019.
South Dakota: Voters rejected a measure to legalize the possession and use of a limited amount of recreational marijuana for people 21 and older, per AP.
- In 2020, the state's voters approved an amendment that would have legalized recreational marijuana and required the state legislature to pass laws that would legalize the use of medical marijuana.
- The amendment was challenged by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and ultimately overturned by the state Supreme Court.
The big picture: President Biden announced last month he would pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession and called on governors to pardon simple state possession offenses.
- The U.S. House passed a bill this year that would decriminalize cannabis on the federal level and allow for the expungement of some marijuana convictions. The bill has not moved forward in the Senate.
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