On November 3rd, New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, and Mississippi all voted to approve cannabis reform measures. The clean sweep marked a monumental moment in the progression of the cannabis industry, unlocking a potential $2.5 billion plus market.
In a country that has been vastly divided across party lines on most political issues, marijuana has proven to be an issue that voters agree on. In both blue and red states, cannabis measures were approved (in most cases, overwhelmingly) for both recreational adult-use and medical markets.
While democrats hoped that taking control of the senate would accelerate federal legalization, according to current projections, that looks like a long-shot. Nevertheless, state-level support remains strong, and is expected to lead to a domino effect in other major states.
New Jersey State Senator Nicholas Scutari has indicated that he will introduce reform as early as Thursday, November 5th to implement a recreational marijuana market. The measure builds on a previously introduced Senate bill, and has the possibility of a public hearing by Monday.
Industry officials predict that the adult-use market will launch in the third or fourth quarter of 2021 as the state prepares for a large influx in demand. The state’s twelve current medical marijuana operators will automatically qualify for entry into the recreational market, with additional pressure on lawmakers to make the industry accessible to small businesses, minorities, and those most affected by the war on drugs.
While the state of Arizona narrowly voted to keep recreational adult-use marijuana illegal in 2016, voters showed out to pass the legislation by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 in 2020. Mississipians also denied their governors request to oppose medical legalization, passing a measure business-friendly no licensing caps measure.
States like Arizona and Mississippi prove that the outlook on the marijuana industry is changing rapidly. Even in the deep south and states that were previously opposed, marijuana could be a real opportunity for economic growth going forward.