Every year, it seems we’re getting closer and closer to cannabis legalization. And the 2020 election is no exception.
Throughout this article, we’re going to inform you as to which states are voting for legalization (either recreational or medicinal) as well as what the presidential candidates position on cannabis is.
What You Should Know
On Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020, the general election will take place. In September 2020, the state primaries for non-presidential offices will be held (exact date currently not available).
There will be two National Conventions within August:
- The Republican National Convention – Will take place between August 24th and 27th in Jacksonville, Florida (originally located in Charlotte, North Carolina).
- The Democratic National Convention – Will take place between August 17th and 20th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Note: There’s chance that this convention will be broken down into smaller events over satellite.
If you’re interested in voting, it’s important to register as soon as possible. Register deadlines vary from state-to-state along with voting methods. In order to secure your voting position, you can use Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project in order to help you register.
Beyond the fact that this is a presidential election season, we are also voting on:
- Drug legalization measures in 7 states
- 33 U.S. Senate seats
- All 435 House of Representatives seats
- 11 state governors
- Thousands of state senators and representatives (namely, many within local cities and county council races)
Current president Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are on the bill for the presidential nomination in 2020. Unfortunately, it seems as though both candidates aren’t too concerned about cannabis legalization. While it’s still too early to call, we’re going to put it out there that if either were elected, cannabis won’t see federal legalization.
During his 2016 campaign, president Trump hinted that he was in favor of leaving cannabis legalization measures up to the states. However, throughout his time in office, the Trump administration has taken a couple of strict protocols that are against cannabis and even laws surrounding cannabis.
For example, in 2018, Trump’s administration revoked an Obama-era Justice Department policy that led prosecutors not to pursue cannabis prosecutions in legalized states. Not to mention, Trump’s 2021 fiscal budget proposal suggested removing various protections over state medical marijuana laws.
While Joe Biden seems to show a bit more promise than Trump, that promise isn’t anything to lean on.
Biden has endorsed that he would allow states to legalize cannabis and operate markets without any consequences from the federal government. He’s also made notions towards federal legalization. Right before the New Hampshire primary, Biden said, “I think it is at the point where it has to be, basically, legalized.”
However, one aspect of Biden’s career that leaves us skeptical over these claims is the fact that he backed the 1994 crime bill – a document that led to a massive increase of Americans behind bars.
While Biden’s stance on cannabis has certainly matured, it’s fairly obvious from the above information that neither candidate puts cannabis at too high of importance.
With all this said, it’s worth noting that Libertarian nominee, Jo Jorgensen, is in favor of federal cannabis legalization.
What States Have Cannabis on the Bill?
When 2020 first began, there were as many as 13 states looking to take legalization measures for cannabis. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 lock-downs, many of these efforts were prevented because advocates couldn’t gather enough petition signatures.
Still, 7 of those 13 states were able to get last-minute signatures as states reopened in June. The following are the current legalization measures on the ballot for November, 2020.
|State||Rec or Medical||Measure Name||Advocates||Opponent(s)|
|Arizona*||Recreational||Smart & Safe Arizona||Smart & Safe Arizona||Currently none|
|Montana*||Recreational||I-190 and CI-118||New Approach Montana||Currently none|
|Mississippi||Medical||Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A||Mississipians for Compassionate Care||Currently none|
|Nebraska*||Medical||Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment||Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana||Currently none|
|New Jersey||Recreational||Currently none||No official organization||Currently none|
|Oregon||Decriminalize all drugs||IP 44: Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act||Drug Policy Action||Currently none|
|South Dakota||Recreational||Amendment A||New Approach South Dakota||Currently none|
|South Dakota||Medical||IM 26||New Approach South Dakota||Currently none|
While some states have reasons to be optimistic, 2020 just might not be cannabis’ year for federal legalization. In many regards, this is okay. When legalization advocacy began, many were well aware of the long road ahead. And, in many regards, a lot of our efforts have proven fruitful.
Currently, anyone over 21 can legally obtain cannabis in 11 states (and Washington D.C.) and anyone over 18 with a medical card has the right to be in possession of cannabis in 35 states. These are major efforts many thought were unlikely to happen even just 20 years ago.
The road ahead may not seem easy, but with more politicians opening their perspective to cannabis legislation, there’s a lot to hope for. With the above information, we as voters can take into consideration what we can do in order to further this hope.