Who Won the 2020 Election? Legalized Marijuana, in a Landslide…
As pundits argue over whether Trump or Biden won the election and who cheated, millions of voters said, “who cares?” as they legalized marijuana in five new states…
Oregon, where legalized marijuana is already a thing, went further than any state so far and decriminalized possession of small amounts of all drugs, expanding access to treatment for addicts and offering to help people who are struggling instead of locking them in a cage and kicking them when they are down.
So, which states legalized marijuana in 2020? Which states already legalized marijuana before 2020? And why should every state and our federal government legalize marijuana?
What States Legalized Marijuana in 2020?
Four states legalized marijuana for recreational use in the 2020 elections, while one, Mississippi, legalized marijuana for medical use only.
Arizona Legalized Marijuana for Recreation
Arizona legalized marijuana for medical use over ten years ago. Apparently, the sky did not fall, and the state did not descend into chaos, because in 2020 they took it a step further and legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use as well, prompting prosecutors in Arizona to dismiss all pending marijuana charges.
There will be a 16% excise tax in addition to sales tax, and the state will now bring in an estimated $200 to $300 million dollars each year from marijuana sales. Arizona’s legalization measure will also expunge minor marijuana offenses from people’s criminal records.
New Jersey Legalized Marijuana for Recreation
New Jersey, which also already had a medical marijuana program, has now legalized marijuana for recreational use as well – a move that has some predicting that New York and Pennsylvania will not be far behind as they see New Jersey’s economy rebounding with the additional income from marijuana taxes:
It also instantly raises the ante for neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania, increasing pressure on lawmakers who support legalization to take action or risk losing the competitive edge to New Jersey in what is expected to be one of the largest marijuana markets in the country.
South Dakota Legalized Marijuana for Recreation
South Dakota legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, a move that is expected to generate an extra $355,000 in revenues for the state in 2021, $10.7 million in 2022 and close to $20 million in 2023.
Montana Legalized Marijuana for Recreation
Montana legalized marijuana for recreational use, and it is expected to generate an additional $48 million a year from taxes and licensing fees by 2025:
Just over 10% of the tax revenue will go into the general state fund, with the remainder “dedicated to accounts for conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, health care costs, and localities where marijuana is sold,” according to the measure.
Anyone over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to one ounce, grow up to four plants, and keep more than an ounce in a private residence if it is locked up and not visible to the public.
Mississippi Legalized Marijuana for Medical Use
Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the country, amended their state constitution to legalize marijuana for medical purposes only, despite strong opposition from politicians, law enforcement, and religious leaders:
Politicians didn’t want it. Leaders in medicine, law enforcement and religion warned against it. Conservative talk radio railed against it. The Legislature, after years of inaction, offered an alternative.
Voters bucked that advice. They easily passed Initiative 65 on Nov. 3, amending the constitution and legalizing medical marijuana.
The story in Mississippi may be how out of touch the state’s leadership is with the state’s ordinary people – when state legislatures refuse to give the people what they want, the people can force the issue with ballot initiatives…
Which States Already Legalized Marijuana?
Where is marijuana legal? Two years ago, I wrote an article tallying up the number of states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. How have the numbers changed since then?
Legalization of Recreational Marijuana
Two years ago, nine states plus the District of Columbia had legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, including Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
The winners in the 2020 election – Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota, bring the total of recreational states to 13 plus the District of Columbia.
Legalization of Medical Marijuana
Two years ago, an additional 20 states permitted the use of marijuana for medical purposes only, including Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and Hawaii.
Adding Mississippi to this list, and removing Montana and New Jersey, where, in 2020 marijuana is now legal for recreational use as well as medical, should make the number of medical-only states 19.
This should bring the total number of states where marijuana is legal for recreational or for medical purposes, as of November 2020, to 32 states plus the District of Columbia – well over half of the country.
That’s not exactly the whole picture, though.
Other Jurisdictions Have Decriminalized Marijuana
Some states not listed above and some municipalities across the country have also “decriminalized” marijuana, making it punishable by a fine only. Other states, like North Carolina, have made possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by a fine only although it is still considered a criminal offense.
Why Legalize Marijuana?
If the fact that a majority of Americans want legalized marijuana is not enough, perhaps reluctant states should consider the financial benefits from legalization, especially today when states and municipalities are suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic:
Marijuana is big business. In 2019, Colorado passed $1 billion in marijuana state revenue since its legalization in 2014, according to CNBC. California blew past $1 billion in marijuana tax revenue a mere two years after statewide legalization.
While marijuana hasn’t been legalized federally, states are catching on to how it can stimulate local economies by boosting state revenue and creating jobs.
If a majority of Americans want legalization, why should a minority of Americans be allowed to force their beliefs on the rest of America? Whether it is religious opposition, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of marijuana, or misguided notions about how to prevent substance abuse, the minority does not have the right to force their beliefs on the majority, do they?
I can tell you, from experience as a criminal defense lawyer, that arresting people for marijuana does not stop them from using marijuana. It gives them a criminal record, it brands them as a drug user, it prevents them from finding meaningful employment, and it hurts them in a hundred different ways, none of which stops them from using marijuana or improves their life in any way.
Maybe you are wrong, and marijuana use is not as harmful as you think.
On the other hand, maybe you are right, and you should help people stop using marijuana. Criminal laws don’t accomplish that goal. The criminalization of marijuana use and possession hurts people, it does not help them.
Is marijuana an addictive substance that wreaks havoc on our community? I can tell you this is not true.
Cocaine, heroin, and meth are addictive substances that can cause people to rob and sometimes kill. People who are addicted to hard drugs need help, not incarceration. Alcohol is an addictive substance that has ruined many people’s lives and is a factor in most criminal cases.
I have yet to see a person commit a crime because they have smoked marijuana. It does not make people desperate for more drugs and money. It does not make people violent. It does not hurt people, and it seems to be beneficial for many people.
People who smoke marijuana, as opposed to those who are addicted to hard drugs, don’t need your help. They need to be left alone…
Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC
Marijuana defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone is located in Charleston, S.C. If you’ve been charged with any marijuana offense in South Carolina, including:
- Simple possession,
- Possession with intent to distribute,
- Manufacturing, or
- Trafficking in marijuana,
Call now at (843) 808-2100 or send us a message online to discuss your case.