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Election Day Was Full of Victories for Cannabis



Election DayThe election results on Tuesday evening were full of surprises, including several victories for cannabis activists. Many cities scored victories for medical or recreational cannabis on the municipal level as well.

Democrats seized Virginia and New Jersey, winning gubernatorial governor seats. For all cannabis activists, it was an especially sweet victory in New Jersey—Gov. Chris Christie has fought against cannabis in nearly every capacity, recently claiming that cannabis consumption leads to opioid addiction as a gateway drug.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy defended cannabis legalization, front-and-center. “The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” he proudly stated during his primary night victory speech. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

Ralph Northam, Governor-elect of Virginia, defeated Republican Ed Gillepsie, and some believe blowback from the events in Charlottesville played a role. Although neither candidate fully supports recreational cannabis, Northam’s made cannabis decriminalization a selling point of his platform.

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana,” he wrote in a blog post on Medium. “African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement—money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.” Also Virginian Danica Roem also became the first openly transgender state lawmaker in America, defeating Robert G. Marshall, who authored a bill banning transgender people from the bathroom of their choice.

Cannabis advocates also celebrated many local victories. In Amesbury, Massachusetts, voters rejected a sweeping ban on cannabis stores. “The voters in Amesbury made the right decision, and we commend the local advocates and residents who are responsible for this outcome,” stated Jim Borghesani, Massachusetts communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and former Yes on 4 Campaign spokesman. “We played a modest role by using online ads to make voters aware of this local election.”

Voters in Palm Springs, California overwhelmingly supported a new tax on recreational cannabis. Measure E creates a tax ahead of legal cannabis sales that begins January 1.

In Athens, Ohio, voters approved a measure to drop fines and court fees for possession of up to 200 grams of cannabis—sending a clear message to America that cannabis is welcome in Athens. Philadelphia voters elected a District Attorney who supports recreational cannabis.

Last but not least, in Detroit, Michigan, voters approved two medical cannabis measures which will allow more leeway among medical cannabis collectives. Proposal A and Proposal B will reduce buffer zones and allow collectives to stay open longer.

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