Legalized marijuana sales rose during the pandemic. A poll conducted in March found that 33% of 2,500 respondents said they’d tried marijuana, an all-time record. Month-to-month percentages also rose: 12.8% said they had used cannabis in the previous month, compared to 12.5% in the same period in 2019. The once unequal lobbying forces for legalized weeds are merging into an electoral powerhouse.
On the ballot
In the 2020 elections, five states voted to legalize cannabis. Recreational marijuana passed in four years, and medical marijuana is now legal in Mississippi. South Dakota legalized both.
Everyone is in the green party
This year, the battle for legal cannabis could change. After New Jersey votes for legalization, we’re talking about Pennsylvanian and New York. Before the pandemic, sales reached record highs. Voters appear to be allying themselves with legalization outside the party lines.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 90% of people surveyed in 2019 felt that marijuana should be legalized in some way. Of the people who supported marijuana, two-thirds supported cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, and the other third wanted medicinal uses only.
Support is not a partisan issue. Just over half of the Republicans polled were in favor of legalization. Across the aisle, more Democrats – more than three-quarters of those polled – were in favor of legalization. (For a glimpse into the President-elect’s views on cannabis, click here.)
Marijuana supporters interested in voting and wanting to see their lawmakers vote had no problem with it. HeadCount, a non-profit organization dedicated to registering new voters, had an information hub on its website that tracked candidates’ voting results on various cannabis-related topics. “In total, HeadCount had 1,007,855 voters.
Marijuana is not only a personal problem but also an economic one. The industry supported 243,700 jobs as of January 2020, according to Leafly magazine. The New York Times reported that the pandemic was an economic motivator for legalization. New Jersey’s new cannabis industry, which legalized marijuana in the elections, for example, is expected to raise $ 126 million a year.
Legalization spurs decriminalization and reparation. The Marijuana Policy Project has been addressing these issues for years. Politico reported on Nov. 9 that the House would vote in December on the MORE bill which, if passed, would decriminalize marijuana and overturn convictions of nonviolent offenders.
This impulse can also be found locally. New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform released that statement last week. “We urge New Jersey lawmakers and the governor to implement the vision of cannabis legalization that voters have pushed – a vision that is beginning to repair the damage of the marijuana ban and an accessible and inclusive new cannabis industry to accomplish.”
Sabrina Emms is a science journalist who has worked as a researcher studying the way bones are formed.