By Eli McVey
Marijuana proved to be about as popular as Donald Trump in red states that voted on cannabis ballot initiatives in November, highlighting the potential for a political backlash if the incoming president looks to crack down on the MJ industry.
Five states that leaned toward Trump in the 2016 elections – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota – had marijuana-related measures on the ballot.
In each case, with the exception of Arkansas, the cannabis initiatives received almost as many or more votes than Trump garnered.
Even in Arizona, the only one of the five states where marijuana failed at the ballot box, the number of votes in support of recreational cannabis legalization was within 2% of the number of votes for Donald Trump.
In Florida, perhaps the most important state to go for Trump in the election, marijuana legalization passed with a whopping 71% of the vote. Trump, by comparison, received 49% of the vote.
In Montana, approximately 4% more votes were cast in support of marijuana legalization than for Trump, while the count was essentially even in North Dakota.
Arkansas had the largest disparity between votes for Trump and votes for legalization, but only because of the overwhelming amount of support for Trump in the state. Legalization passed with 53% of the vote.
Trump’s position toward the industry remains somewhat unclear, as he has made comments both in support of medical cannabis and critical of recreational marijuana.
That’s created a lot of uncertainty in the cannabis industry.
A December poll conducted by Marijuana Business Daily showed that over half of executives in the cannabis industry are somewhat or very concerned about their business prospects under a Trump administration.
Much of this concern stems from Trump’s selection of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general.
Sessions’ hostility toward marijuana use is well-documented. He did little to assuage the fears of industry executives during his confirmation hearing last week, though the bright spot is that he didn’t come out aggressively against cannabis.
No matter how the new administration handles marijuana, the consequences fall squarely on President-elect Trump – and this election cycle has clearly shown that a federal crackdown would come at a political cost.
Eli McVey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org