If you see a warm glow in the West, that is just me gloating over the results of the various state marijuana initiatives. They all won handily. Plus Oregon decriminalized possession of small quantities of almost everything. And several major publications actually mentioned the “Drug War.”
A few months ago I speculated that Trump, having sold out to the prohibitionists like Attorney General Bill Barr and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and his major donor casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, he would lose votes, and might lose the election.
In any close election, there will always be questions about what influenced the outcome. In past elections, the marijuana initiatives have generally earned more votes than the winning candidates, and that was true this year with one exception.
Arizona was the only state where Trump lost and marijuana was on the ballot. Marijuana won with slightly less than 60%, while Trump lost with 49% to Biden’s 49.5%.
Recreational Marijuana was on the ballot four years ago in Nevada and is now an important part of the Nevada economy that has been devastated by the pandemic. It passed by a 54–46 margin. Trump lost to Clinton by almost the same margin with 45.5% of the vote. This year he lost again with 47.7% … and with Adelson’s $75+ million.
In Montana, which already has a medical marijuana law, Trump won with 56.9% of the vote, but recreational marijuana won with almost exactly the same 56.9%.
South Dakota, a very conservative state, passed two initiatives. Medical marijuana won by 69.9% while Trump won with only 61.8% but recreational marijuana still won, but with “only” 54.2%.
Meanwhile in Mississippi, the more “liberal” of two medical marijuana initiatives got 73% of the vote!!
Trump won with only 59.7%.
In New Jersey, recreational marijuana won with 66.95% of the vote, and Trump lost with only 40.1%. New Jersey is important for several reasons:
“Police in the state arrested 34,501 people for marijuana possession and 3,122 people for pot sales in 2017, according to recently released FBI data. That’s 2,500 more arrests for weed than in 2016. Texas and New York were the only states who arrested more people for marijuana possession than New Jersey in 2017.”
New Jersey’s location makes it even more important. It is connected to Manhattan by public transit, and the governor of New York has even more incentive to legalize recreational marijuana with laws that are competitive with New Jersey’s.
Finally, Pennsylvania played a key role in determining the outcome of the election, and Tom Wolf, the Democratic governor, has repeatedly called on the Republican legislature to legalize marijuana.
Obviously, we can never know whether supporting such a popular position would have made a difference in the election results, but it would have given Trump a way to appeal to young voters, as well as older medical marijuana supporters. It is also an issue that appeals to Veterans.
It is important to note that these initiatives were all opposed by Republican politicians who love to wave the flag and bloviate about “Freedom.”
Yep, this great “champion of freedom” was going to overturn the will of the people, “for our own good,” of course. But he chickened out.
And in South Dakota, the Argus News Leader reported:
More than 225,000 South Dakotans voted to legalize marijuana in South Dakota this week.
Gov. Kristi Noem wasn’t one of them.
The first-term governor from Castlewood told the Argus Leader in an email Thursday that she believes the voters’ choice to legalize the possession, sale and transport of the cannabis plant in the state will hurt families and force the expansion of government.
“I was personally opposed to these measures and firmly believe they’re the wrong choice for South Dakota’s communities,” said Noem, who appeared in campaign ads in opposition to legalizing pot ahead of the election. “We need to be finding ways to strengthen our families, and I think we’re taking a step backward in that effort.”
Yeah, you can really “strengthen families” by arresting people!
Meanwhile, the Dakotas are being ravaged by the COVID pandemic.
One reason South Dakota is suffering so much is that the governor, who says that she wants to “strengthen families” has grossly mishandled the pandemic. “The Republican governors of both states have derided government orders to help halt the outbreaks, leaning on ideals of limited government.”
Under their idea of “limited government” it is tyranny to mandate wearing a mask in public during a pandemic, but it is okay to arrest people at home for having cannabis.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and the author of Difference Between CBD For Dogs And Humans.
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