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News & Events

Student-at-Law Radha Lamba posts "Is the Grass Getting Greener on the Other Side? U.S. Election and Cannabis Legalization" on Canada Cannabis Legal

Nov 06, 2020

Student-at-law Radha Lamba published "Is the Grass Getting Greener on the Other Side? U.S. Election and Cannabis Legalization" on Canada Cannabis Legal on Friday, November 6, 2020.

Is the grass getting greener on the other side? U.S. Election and Cannabis Legalization

By Radha Lamba, Student-at-Law

In what is turning out to be one of the closest races to the White House, many states inCannabis in a bed of grass the 2020 U.S. election voted on measures to legalize cannabis. The “yes” to legalization, however, can definitely be characterized as a landslide and is not, as media outlets would say, “too close to call.”

Following the results, 36 states are now on track to legalize medical cannabis, and 15 states legalizing cannabis for recreational use. Perhaps the increasing number of states legalizing cannabis will bring about reform at the Federal level and encourage other states to follow suit. The following five states have voted to legalize cannabis with an overwhelming majority:


With a narrow defeat on the road to legalization in 2016, Arizona has done it this time around! The 2020 Initiative, spearheaded by Smart and Safe Arizona, made its way on to the ballot. Under the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, recreational cannabis use is now voter-approved by nearly 20 percentage points.

The approved measures will:

  • Allow the State to regulate and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older;
  • Permit expungements of certain cannabis violations;
  • Prescribe penalties for violations;
  • Authorize state and local regulations for the sale and production of cannabis by select licensees; and
  • Come into effect when the official election results are certified on November 30.


New Approach Montana, a statewide campaign put two measures on the ballot, passed!

Initiative 190, among other measures: legalizes cannabis for adults; establishes a regulatory framework for cultivation and sales; directs the Department of Revenue to license and regulate; and allows expungement of prior records.

Constitutional Initiative 118, an amendment to set the legal minimum age to 21 and will allow Montana to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.

South Dakota

South Dakota has become the first state to adopt medical cannabis and legalize cannabis for adults in the same election, thanks to the Cannabis Legalization Initiative.

  • The Department of Health and the Department of Revenue will oversee the regulatory framework for medical and recreational use cannabis, respectively.
  • The measures will become effective on July 1, 2021.

The deputy director of the Cannabis Policy Project, which played an instrumental role in achieving this feat, noted that South Dakota beat New York in legalizing cannabis, a surprise (or shock) to many.

New Jersey

New Jersey won its vote, with 67%! It includes:

  • Legalizing recreational cannabis, a controlled form of cannabis, for adults 21 and over.
  • Legalizing the cultivation, processing, sale, and taxation of retail cannabis;
  • Giving regulatory authority of the personal use cannabis market to The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC”), which already oversees the medical cannabis program;
  • The amendment will come into effect on January 1, 2021.

It is expected that the CRC and the legislature will enact additional laws and regulations for an effective transition.


Mississippi voters approved Amendment 65 and legalized only medical cannabis for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

  • Will be administered by the State Health Department and specify the criteria for eligibility.
  • The measures will come into effect sometime in December, 30 days after the official election results are declared.

While recreational use cannabis is not yet legalized, this approval is definitely a step forward.

For a quick look at which states have legalized cannabis (both medical and recreational) and which states are nowhere near - visit

To read the article on Canadian Cannabis Legal click here:

For more information on cannabis law please contact Whitney Abrams.

Image from Unsplash.