2020 election results signal growing public approval of cannabis

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Marijuana ballot measures in five states passed more resoundingly in 2020 than initiatives did four years ago in what might represent further growth in voters’ acceptance of the plant – particularly its recreational use.

According to a Marijuana Business Daily analysis, the average margin of victory for adult-use and medical marijuana campaigns this year was 24.6 percentage points compared with only 16.5 points in 2016.

The shift was most evident in Arizona, the only state where a legalization ballot measure suffered a defeat four years ago.

In 2016, nine states voted on marijuana legalization initiatives: Five, including Arizona, involved recreational cannabis, and four had MMJ on the ballot.

Arizona voters rejected adult use in 2016 by a slim 2.64 percentage points – only to pass it by 20 points on Tuesday night.

Recreational and medical marijuana ballot measures in Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota also passed, according to media projections, although some states are still counting votes.

Voter approval was apparent in the polls leading up to the 2020 election, and there were few surprises when the votes were counted.

South Dakota was the tightest of the legalization races, with only a 6-percentage-point margin of victory involving the state’s recreational ballot measure.

Medical marijuana continues to be popular with voters, as initiatives in Mississippi and South Dakota easily won by a margin of more than 35 points.

State ballot initiatives also faced less opposition, with marijuana proponents outraising opponents 36-to-1 this election cycle.

This was particularly evident in the adult-use legalization race in Montana, where supporting campaigns raised $6.9 million to the opposition’s $78,000.