Midterm Voting Results In Huge Wins For Cannabis
Millions of voters returned to the ballots on Tuesday to vote in the midterm elections.
In years prior, midterm elections had notably poor voter turnouts, but this year was different, likely due to the impact this year’s vote will have on cannabis laws.
As part of the voting ballot, Michigan, North Dakota, Missouri, and Utah all voted on changes to the legal status of marijuana.
Additionally, changes to Senate seats and 36 state governor positions up for grabs offer more complex changes to cannabis legalization.
What Were People Voting For?
Four states were on the fence of legalizing cannabis and turned to their voters.
Michigan and North Dakota voted for public opinion on legalization for recreational use, while Utah and Missouri voted for medicinal legalization.
All passed except North Dakota, who voted against recreational legalization.
This brings the total of legal marijuana states to 33 (either recreational, medicinal, or both). Cannabis still remains illegal federally, but many believe this is going to change in the coming few months.
The vote in Michigan was considered the most significant because Michigan has the highest population of the four (almost 10 million), lending more weight to the federal ballots.
This compares to North Dakota with less than a million, Utah at 3 million, and Missouri with 6 million people.
The Current Status Of Legal States
Legal For Adults Aged 21 And Up
Legal For Medicinal Use Only
- Hew Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Changes To The United States Senate
A turnover in Senate seats resulted in a power shift from a Republican majority to Democrat in the house of representatives. This is significant for the marijuana industry because the Democrats have a broad support of marijuana, while Republicans have a broad opposition. The direct implications of this are not immediately clear.
On top of this, some of the key players who have been blocking votes on cannabis amendments, such as Republican Pete Sessions of Texas, just lost his seat to Democrat Collin Allred.
Although we’re not yet sure about Collins stance on the cannabis amendments, he was reported to have called Session’s out on the veterans amendment, preventing United States veterans from gaining access to the plant for medicinal uses.
In Illinois, Democrat J.B. Pritzker earned the position of governor. What’s significant about this is that the centerpiece of his campaign was marijuana legalization.
Although these changes are likely to help in the long run many experts argue it’s not enough to lead to any immediate changes to the cannabis policy federally.
In Michigan, along with the move to legalize, their new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has referred to cannabis as an “exit drug” away from opioids.
What These Changes Mean For The Cannabis Industry
David Kideckel, an analyst covering cannabis companies suggests this is only a mild victory for the industry as a whole. These changes amount to another couple of drops into the bucket in the movement towards federal legalization.
There were some significant changes in the stock market, however, following the results of the midterm elections, with spikes in the market value of the top four cannabis companies in the United States. Canopy Growth Corp, Aurora Cannabis Inc., Aphria Inc., and Tilray Inc all saw gains earlier this week before the vote as people anticipated the pro-cannabis laws moving forward. Some of these gains have since corrected but remains higher than before the vote.
Where We’re Likely To See The Impacts Of This Election
Some of the biggest problems in the cannabis industry right now involve banking.
Federal prohibition makes doing business in cannabis risky, even in states that have legalized it within the state. Many of the large national banks are refusing to work with growers, and dispensaries in the cannabis sector, making it very difficult to do business.
Most of these businesses still work with cash, which is insane considering that the industry in Colorado alone has generated over 1.5 billion dollars of cannabis. California is projected to have sold $2.75 billion by the end of the year.
That’s a lot of cash.
Working with cash like this is putting a lot of cannabis entrepreneurs at risk of robbery and property damage.
Last summer, an amendment was blocked that would have allowed banks to work with cannabis companies legally. The Senate Appropriates Committee was held responsible for butchering the amendment.
With changes to the United States House of Representatives, and 3 more states upgrading their cannabis laws, it’s possible that federal prohibition will finally come toppling down. With these changes looming, big banks are becoming more willing to do business with cannabis companies, cashing in on the massive profits inherent to the industry.
In the coming months, we can expect to see some changes trickling up the ranks as new changes are put in place with those in power, and as the voice of millions of Americans are heard through the ballots.
We’ll have to wait and see how fast the new house pushes amendments through, and how highly they prioritize changes to cannabis prohibition.
One thing is for sure, this is a clear win for the cannabis industry.
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About James Reed
James Reed is the founder and editor-in-chief at iSum. He’s a big advocate of marijuana and spent most of his time writing about these topics, sharing what he learned over the years.