Marijuana Business Daily provided live updates on cannabis ballot measures and related news on Election Day (all updates in Eastern time).
3:45 a.m. Wednesday (Montana): Montana’s measure to legalize medical marijuana businesses is poised to win comfortably, as the initiative has garnered 56% of the vote with more than 80% of precincts reporting.
The big win will lead to a resurgence in the state’s MMJ industry, which disintegrated earlier this year after the Montana Supreme Court upheld parts of a law that essentially banned medical cannabis businesses.
Various media outlets are reporting that the initiative has no chance of passing, as it currently has just 48% support with nearly 90% of the votes counted.
Arizona is the only black mark in an otherwise stellar election for cannabis.
3:10 a.m. (Maine): Rack up another win for the marijuana industry: The campaign behind a measure to legalize recreational cannabis in Maine announced that the initiative has passed.
The Yes on 1 campaign plans to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday outside Portland City Hall to talk about an implementation timeline.
With 87% of the votes tallied, the measure has 50.6% of the vote, which the campaign said guarantees a win.
Maine joins Massachusetts as the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana on the East Coast.
2:30 a.m. (Arizona, Maine, Montana): Three states with marijuana initiatives still hang in the balance, with Arizona’s rec measure on the ropes, Montana’s initiative well ahead and Maine’s adult-use measure a coin flip.
Here are the latest results from those three states:
Arizona: 48% “Yes,” with 82% of the votes reported
Montana: 56% “Yes,” with 63% of the votes reported
Maine: 50.5% “Yes,” with 86% of the votes reported
Check back later Wednesday morning for an analysis of the results in the nine states where voters weighed in on recreational and medical marijuana ballot initiatives.
1:50 a.m. (National): Six states – Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and North Dakota – are projected to approve marijuana legalization measures.
The polls have closed in all nine states with marijuana-related ballot initiatives.
Pro-marijuana initiatives are ahead in two states but are still too close to call. But an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona is projected to lose. Here are the two states where the race is still up in the air:
Maine: 50.5% “Yes,” with 82% of the votes reported
Montana: 56% “Yes,” with 53% of the votes reported
1:40 a.m. (Colorado): A ballot initiative to permit marijuana use in public places in Denver including restaurants and bars is ahead by a razor-thin margin.
The “Yes” vote has nearly 51% while the “No” vote is close behind at 49%, according to the latest official results.
1:30 a.m. (Nevada): Political websites FiveThirtyEight.com and Politico both project that Nevada voters will pass a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing to six the number of states expected to approve pro-marijuana initiatives.
Under Nevada’s Question 2, a limited number of retail business licenses would be available, and for the first year and a half of the licensing process only existing medical cannabis companies in the state would be allowed to apply.
But the measure contains no residency requirement, meaning out-of-state owners and/or investors could play a big role in the Nevada industry’s development.
12:45 a.m. (Arkansas): Politico and local broadcaster KATV project that Arkansas voters will approve a medical marijuana legalization initiative, becoming the fifth state to pass a pro-cannabis measure in this election.
Initiative 6 calls for eight cultivation facilities, whose owners will be determined by the state Medical Marijuana Commission. The same commission would issue 20-40 dispensary licenses. For-profit businesses are allowed under the measure.
12:35 a.m. (California): Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declares victory for Proposition 64 shortly before 9 p.m. at a campaign party in the heart of San Francisco.
“We can safely say, because the Associated Press safely said, that Proposition 64 has passed in California,” Newsom said of the voters legalizing recreational cannabis.
“This state stepped up … and said, ‘The War on Drugs has been an abject failure … and it’s time for change in California,’ ” Newsom said to a cheering crowd of supporters. “We’ve sent that message powerfully to the rest of the nation.”
As of 8:56 p.m. PT, with 18.7% of precincts reporting, Proposition 64 is ahead with 55.9% of the vote.
Newsom also told the crowd there’s “reason to be optimistic,” even as Republican Donald Trump seemed to be on the verge of winning the White House.
“If Trump wins, that’s the last vestige of the past. What happened here tonight is a punctuation point and a firm direction on what the future will bring,” Newsom said. “The best is yet to come, not just in California, but in our entire country.”
12:25 a.m. (Massachusetts): Advocates of legalized adult-use cannabis greet the news that Question 4 passed with cheers and jubilation. Entrepreneurs also should also have much to cheer.
“People should feel good about this victory and the opportunities that legalization will bring,” said Kris Krane of 4Front Advisors. “But it’ll take time to roll out the program and write the regulations that need to be put in place. … After the dust settles there will be lots of good opportunities.”
Question 4 does not contain a residency requirement or establish a long-term limit on the number of permits, but local governments could set such caps. Existing MMJ dispensaries get the first opportunity to acquire recreational licenses.
12:10 a.m. (National): With polls closed in all nine states with marijuana-related ballot initiatives, four states – California, Florida, Massachusetts and North Dakota – are projected to approve their pro-legalization measures.
The pro-marijuana initiatives are ahead in four more states and behind in Arizona, where voters are weighing recreational marijuana.
Arizona: 47% “Yes,” with 56% of the votes counted
Arkansas: 52% “Yes,” with 76% of the votes counted
Maine: 51% “Yes,” with 66% of the votes counted
Montana: 57% “Yes,” with 40% of the votes counted
Nevada: 53% “Yes,” with 60% of the votes counted
11:45 p.m. Tuesday (North Dakota): North Dakota has approved medical marijuana legalization by a vote of 64% to 36%, the campaign behind the measure has announced.
The initiative, called Measure 5, will pave the way for nonprofit vertically integrated “compassion centers” that will be licensed by the state to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana.
Anita Morgan, who is with the legalization campaign, pointed to the state’s strength in agriculture, including North Dakota State University’s preeminent agriculture program. The Fargo school could be a leader in marijuana research, she said.
11:35 p.m. (California): The Associated Press and Politico are both projecting that California voters will pass an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.
The vote count, however, is still very early.
As of 8:25 p.m. PT, with only 10.7% of precincts reporting, Proposition 64 is ahead with 54.7% of the vote.
11 p.m. (Florida): Florida’s vote to legalize medical marijuana outpaced any previous marijuana ballot initiative, setting the U.S. record for the percentage of “yes” votes.
The previous record for a recreational initiative was Washington DC’s 70% in 2014. Nevada set the mark for a medical marijuana measure with 65% in 2000.
A leading backer of Florida’s winning MMJ vote said Amendment 2’s victory will be the deciding factor for medical cannabis legalization across the country.
“I do believe this will be the domino,” said John Morgan, a prominent Florida attorney, adding that Florida is a bellwether state.
“This is where plants are grown,” he added. “It’s tailor-made for this crop.”
Morgan envisions Florida experiencing a financial boom with people traveling to Florida, the nation’s third-largest state, for medical marijuana treatment.
“If you could freeze your ass off in Colorado or come to Florida for treatment,” he said, “I know where I’m going.”
10:50 p.m. (Montana): Although early results in Montana have a medical marijuana initiative ahead, campaign spokesman Jeff Krauss is still on pins and needles.
“We’re 50/50 right now,” Krauss said. “I think we’re all nervous, because a big turnout might favor Donald Trump and a Republican candidate for governor, but it may not favor us. Big turnouts in the university towns will help us, as long as they go down the ballot far enough.”
But, he said, there are still long lines at polling places in a number of university towns, such as Bozeman, because of same-day voter registration. That means I-182 could still go either way, Krauss said.
10:40 p.m. (California): Longtime medical marijuana insiders are overwhelmingly confident that Proposition 64, to legalize cannabis in California, is going to pass.
Khoja said he was speaking this week with an activist who had crunched some voter numbers and found that opponents of Proposition 64 would have to swing roughly 160,000 voters in order to defeat the initiative.
If that’s true, Khoja said, “this thing is sewn up.”
10:25 p.m. (National): With polls closed in seven states, marijuana-related ballot initiatives are ahead in initial results in most states except in Arizona. Florida voters have approved a medical marijuana legalization initiative.
Arizona: 47% “Yes,” with slightly more than 40% of the votes counted
Arkansas: 51% “Yes,” with slightly more than 45% of the votes counted
Massachusetts: 53% “Yes,” with 75% of the votes counted
Maine: 52% “Yes,” with just over 50% of the votes counted
Montana: 56% “Yes,” with 18% of the votes counted
North Dakota: 61% “Yes,” with 30% of the votes counted
10:15 p.m. (Colorado): Pueblo County in southern Colorado is reporting that computer problems will delay the release of results by hours, according to the Denver Post.
Voters there are weighing Ballot Question 200 to ban the country’s existing recreational marijuana industry.
9:50 p.m. (Montana): About a half-hour before polls closed in Montana, cannabis industry consultant Kate Cholewa wouldn’t go so far as to say she was feeling confident that Initiative 182 will pass.
But she put on a brave face.
“I’ve just got a lot of superstitions about elections, but I do think the people of Montana are with us,” Cholewa said from her home in Missoula about the medical marijuana measure. “We think the people of Montana are behind this, just like they were in 2004, before the legislature got rid of it in 2011.”
Cholewa said a number of people who have been in the Montana medical marijuana business are gathering at the Badlander, a local bar in Missoula, and that there are similar election night watch parties in other cities and towns.
9:35 p.m. (National): With the polls closed in five states, marijuana-related ballot initiatives are narrowly ahead in early voting. Florida voters approved the state’s medical marijuana ballot initiative.
- Arkansas: 52% “Yes” versus 48% “No”
- Maine: 51% “Yes” versus 49% “No”
- Massachusetts: 52% “Yes” versus 48% “No”
- North Dakota: 56% “Yes” 44% “No”
9:22 p.m. (California): “Unless something cataclysmic happens, or if Donald Trump is right and this election is rigged, we are going to have a very successful night.”
Kinney cites multiple polls that show Proposition 64 winning, with support typically ranging from 58% to 60% among California voters.
Some in the state’s immense marijuana trade, however, are still not sold on the initiative.
Carla Selvan, a supervisor at San Francisco MMJ dispensary Medithrive, didn’t even cast a vote on Proposition 64 because she’s “so torn.”
“It’s debatable whether or not more people will be thrown in jail or let out of jail,” Selvan said of Proposition 64 and its ramifications. “We have co-workers who aren’t even talking to each other because one’s a yes and the other’s a no (on Proposition 64).”
9:10 p.m. (Arkansas): A ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana in Arkansas is narrowly ahead with slightly more than 20% of the vote in.
The MMJ ballot measure currently is capturing about 51% of the vote versus 49% for the “No,” according to initial results.
9 p.m. (Florida): The chief proponent behind Florida’s medical marijuana ballot initiative hailed the measure’s overwhelming passage this evening.
“Mission accomplished,” declared John Morgan, a prominent Florida attorney who bankrolled the Florida MMJ ballot measure.
“This was never about winning an election, although that’s exactly what we did tonight. The election was a means to an end,” Morgan added in a news release. “The end was always, always always delivering compassion to those who could benefit, those desperate for the relief medical marijuana can bring.”
8:29 p.m. (Massachusetts): An optimistic crowd of well over 100 people at an Irish pub is confident its decision to target “soccer moms” will lead to the passage of recreational marijuana.
“We worked really hard to reach soccer moms, and we think we made some progress,” Will Luzier, manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said during a party at Lir in Boston.
“Polls have been looking good for the last couple of weeks,” he said,”but we hope to know by about 9 or 9:30 whether I’ll be celebrating or crying in my beer.”
Luzier said the campaign made a push through hard canvassing and social media the past several days and also has focused on soccer moms, which he considers an important demographic to win.
8:15 p.m. (Florida): The political website FiveThirtyEight.com projects Florida voters will approve the state’s medical marijuana ballot initiative.
The latest results from the state show the initiative is ahead with nearly 71% of the votes. The ballot measure requires 60% approval for passage.
The Associated Press also projected a victory for the Florida MMJ initiative, shortly after FiveThirtyEight.com.
7:55 p.m. (California): Talk about an itchy trigger finger.
“Cannabis wins in California!” a press release’s headline blared, and included “a statement on passage of Proposition 64.”
Voters will still be casting ballots until 8 p.m. PT, but the release was received by Marijuana Business Daily at 5:07 p.m. PT.
7:35 p.m. (Florida): With early results in, Florida voters are overwhelming supporting a pro-medical marijuana ballot initiative.
According to Politico, the “Yes” votes are getting 68.8% while the “No” votes are capturing 31.2%. That’s with nearly 3 million votes counted. The Florida initiative requires 60% to pass.
7:30 p.m. (Oregon): More than 50 towns and counties in the state are voting to opt out of a ban against recreational marijuana stores.
In 2014, when Oregon voters legalized recreational cannabis, about 100 towns and counties declined to follow the rest of the state.
Today’s vote, however, could dramatically alter the marijuana industry throughout the state. Polls close at 7 and 8 p.m. PT.
7:15 p.m. (Colorado): A pro-marijuana advocate in Pueblo County, Colorado, predicts local residents will reject a ballot initiative to ban the county’s existing recreational marijuana industry.
“I’ll be shocked if the outcome is anything but a vote against (Proposition) 200,” said Jim Parco, a Pueblo dispensary owner and spokesman for Growing Pueblo’s Future, a pro-cannabis group.
He bases that assessment on conversations he’s had with residents and the data he’s evaluated, adding that community members favor the tax revenue and jobs the local marijuana industry has created.
Growing Pueblo’s Future will host a watch party at Smitty’s Greenlight Tavern in Pueblo at 6:30 MT tonight. Licensed cannabis industry badge holders can attend for free.
7 p.m. (National): Marijuana Business Daily is providing live coverage and frequent updates on state and local cannabis-related measures nationwide.
You can also find updates for all state results – including candidates and various ballot measures – at Politico’s election page.
Politico’s site is comprehensive and easy to use, though it’s not clear how quickly results will be posted. Readers can get live election updates directly from government websites in the following states:
In states where government websites don’t provide live election updates, local news affiliates in the following states are filling that role:
In Montana, the state is not providing live election updates, nor is a local news affiliate. In this case, Politico’s live coverage of the election is an option.
Readers can also get updates by following Marijuana Business Daily’s Facebook page and searching for #MJBizVote on Twitter. You can follow Marijuana Business Daily on Twitter via @MJBizDaily.
That’s the purpose of Initiative 182, which would repeal a state law that effectively shut down the medical marijuana industry in August.
“Generally people are for the safe access of marijuana in Montana,” said Richard Abromeit, CEO of Montana Agricultural Consultants and owner of a dispensary in Billings.
“We’ve been forced to abandon our patients,” Abromeit said.
But he anticipates the pendulum has swung in favor of passage.
“I believe the voters in Montana are sensible, compassionate people,” Abromeit said.
6:30 p.m. (National): Here’s a rundown of when polls close in each state (in local and Eastern time) with a marijuana measure on the ballot.
- Arizona: 7 p.m. MT/9 p.m. ET
- Arkansas: 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET
- California: 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET
- Florida: 7 and 8 p.m. ET, depending on region of the state
- Maine: 8 p.m. ET
- Massachusetts: 8 p.m. ET
- Montana: 10 p.m. MT/Midnight ET
- Nevada: 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET
- North Dakota: 6 and 7 p.m. CT/8 and 9 p.m., depending on region of the state
Here’s when polls close in Colorado – where Pueblo is voting on whether to ban the recreational marijuana industry and Denver is voting on whether to allow MJ consumption at businesses – and in Oregon, where dozens of communities are voting on whether to ban rec businesses:
- Colorado: 7 p.m. MT/9 p.m. ET
- Oregon: 7 and 8 p.m. PT/10 and 11 p.m. ET, depending on region of the state
6:15 p.m. (National): Pro-cannabis campaigns in multiple states are making a last-minute push to get as many voters to the polls as possible, with emails going to supporters reminding them to vote.
“We need every vote for Question 2 we can get, so if you haven’t voted yet, please make sure you get out to vote before the polls close,” Joe Brezny, the campaign manager pushing a measure to legalize recreational cannabis in Nevada, wrote in an email sent to supporters this afternoon.
“Do you know where to vote? Info inside,” was the title of an email from United for Care, the organization pushing a medical marijuana legalization ballot initiative in Florida.
“We will win, but only if everyone on this list votes,” continued the Florida email. It included a link to help backers find their local polling place. “If you’ve already voted Yes on 2, please simply remind your friends and family, via email and on social media, to do the same.”
6 p.m. (Colorado): Proponents behind Denver’s Initiative 300 – to allow cannabis consumption in restaurants, bars and other public places – are pessimistic about the ballot measure’s chances.
But a watch party is still planned this evening.
Kayvan Khalatbari, a lead supporter of the initiative, said he’s not upbeat because the measure didn’t garner a lot of support from the marijuana industry, and because he’s worked on campaigns like this before and is familiar with the lay of the land.
Nevertheless, supporters are hosting a party at El Charrito restaurant in Denver starting at 7 p.m. MT. Khalatbari expects about 50-100 people.
5:45 p.m. (North Dakota): Supporters of the Yes on 5 Campaign are having an election night gathering at the Boiler Room in downtown Fargo.
The party is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT. Polls close at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT, depending on which region of the state voters are in.
A yes vote on Initiative 5 would legalize medical marijuana for certain conditions. The measure is sponsored by North Dakota Compassionate Care Act 2016.
“People say we’re North Dakota nice, but we might prove that we’re North Dakota compassionate,” said Anita Morgan, spokeswoman for the campaign.
The shindig will begin after polls close at 7 p.m. MT. J.P Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona, will speak at the event.
He expects the vote will be close enough that the outcome might not be known tonight. But he predicts a victory – ultimately. “Out of the states that are up for legalization, Arizona is the tightest,” Holyoak acknowledged. “But we win.”
5:10 p.m. (Maine): Supporters of legalizing adult-use cannabis will gather at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel in downtown Portland for what they hope will be a celebration of Question 1’s passage.
Maine’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is expecting from 50 to 150 guests, including dispensary owners, state representatives and caregivers, said David Boyer, who heads the drive.
“The campaign is cautiously optimistic,” Boyer said. “Turnout is high here, and that helps us.”
5 p.m. (Nevada): A supporter of Nevada’s Question 2 – legalizing recreational cannabis – predicts it will pass. “Nevada is ready for it,” said Larry Doyle, co-owner of Euphoria Wellness.
Doyle, whose dispensary is based in Las Vegas, said the state’s existing medical marijuana market has been performing well. “No state knows how to regulate better than Nevada,” he said.
Does Doyle think the winning margin for rec will be wide? “That’s yet to be determined,” he responded.
For those supporters wanting to watch the results roll in, Leafly and others are hosting an election watch party at Sake Rok in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. PT. Doyle expects at least 100 people or more at the party.
4:45 p.m. (California): For those in the California cannabis industry awaiting the fate of Proposition 64, the San Francisco Bay Area is likely the place to be.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, an outspoken cannabis industry and legalization supporter, will be in attendance, as will other elected officials who are backing Proposition 64.
Another party in the Bay Area that is expected to be well-attended is an industry gathering at the New Parish in Oakland. The event is hosted by Berkeley Patients Group, and though it’s free to attend, partygoers must have a ticket.
Los Angeles supporters will have a separate campaign watch party at Kyoto Gardens at the Double Tree by Hilton, in downtown L.A., from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. PT
4:30 p.m. (Arkansas): Arkansas’ medical marijuana legalization campaign won’t be throwing an election night bash like its peers in other states.
Instead, David Couch, the Little Rock attorney behind Arkansas’ MMJ initiative, and his crew expect to watch the returns roll in with the state Democratic Party.
“It’ll just be me and some of my other friends,” Couch said.
He acknowledged the Arkansas legalization effort is small, but warned it should not be taken lightly.
“We’re a small contingent, but hopefully we’ll represent more than half of Arkansas voters on this issue,” Couch said. “I think we’re going to win.
4:20 p.m. (Florida): Supporters of Amendment 2 will congregate in the ballroom of the Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Orlando for what they hope will be a celebration.
Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for United for Care, the group behind Florida’s medical marijuana initiative, anticipates a turnout of at least 100.
Supporters likely to drop in include Susanna Randolph – a political activist who polled second in a field of four candidates in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 9th U.S. Congressional District and later started Floridians Against Trump – and her husband, Scott, the Orange County Tax Collector.
Also slated to attend are Jay and Diane Czarkowski of the Canna Advisors consulting firm in Boulder, Colorado; Tom Quigley, CEO of The Gluu, an online B2B marketplace focused on the cannabis industry; Michael Bronstein of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, and Karen Basha Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida.
4 p.m. (National): If you need a refresher about what’s going on today, here’s a quick primer: Nine states are voting on marijuana-related proposals.
- Voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are deciding on measures to legalize recreational cannabis.
- Voters in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota are weighing initiatives to legalize medical marijuana.
- In Montana, which legalized medical cannabis way back in 2004, voters are deciding whether to amend state statute to essentially legalize MMJ dispensaries and commercial cultivation operations.
Click here for a deeper look at what’s happening in each state.
Among Maine’s other initiatives, Question 2 establishes a 3% tax on household incomes above $200,000, Question 3 sets specific background checks on gun sales, Question 4 increases the minimum wage, Question 5 establishes a ranked voting system and Question 6 is a transportation-construction bond.
Chris McCabe of McCabe Law in Portland – who represents growers, investors and other stakeholders in the cannabis industry – believes the other referendums will bring out voters who might disagree with their respective issues but could very well agree on cannabis legalization.
This includes gun rights and gun safety advocates, anti-tax and education advocates, business interests and minimum wage advocates.
“These are groups that favor progressive or Libertarian causes, and those causes give broad support to legalization,” McCabe said.
3:25 p.m. (Massachusetts): “Nervously optimistic.” That’s how Jim Borghesani, communications director for the Yes on 4 recreational cannabis legalization campaign in Massachusetts, characterized the outlook of people working on the effort.
“We’ve seen polls that have us ahead. But the other side got a lot of money, and that gave them a chance,” Borghesani said. “We think it’s going to be close.”
Campaign staff and cannabis legalization supporters will watch the election results at Lir, an upscale Irish pub in Boston, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
The campaign invited several prominent local politicians whose support countered the anti-legalization rhetoric from several state heavyweights, including Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
The pro-legalization invitees include Boston City Council Chairwoman Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, State House Representative David Rodgers (D-Cambridge), and State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Middlesex and Worcester counties).
3 p.m. (East Coast): Voters in three East Coast states with marijuana measures on the ballot – Massachusetts, Maine and Florida – were among the first to begin heading to the polls early this morning.
Polls in Maine, where a recreational legalization measure is on the ballot, opened at 6 a.m. ET In Massachusetts, where rec is also on the ballot, and Florida, where voters will decide on medical marijuana legalization, polling stations opened at 7 a.m. ET.
These states will also be among the first to start releasing results tonight. The polls close at 8 p.m. ET in Massachusetts and Maine and 7 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. in Florida.
“We expect a close vote so we’re doing everything we can to get out our message about the many benefits of replacing the current system with a regulated and taxed approach,” said Jared Moffat, field director of the Yes on 4 campaign, as the Massachusetts legalization effort is known.
Omar Sacirbey in Massachusetts, John Schroyer in California and Bart Schaneman, Eli McVey, Roger Fillion and Chris Walsh in Colorado contributed to this report.