Voters in four states from different regions of the country could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, and a sweep would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide.
The Nov. 3 contests in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana will shape policies in those states while the battle for control of Congress and the White House could determine whether marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
Already, most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form and 11 now have fully legalized the drug for adults — Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. It’s also legal in Washington, D.C.
In conservative Mississippi, voters will consider competing ballot proposals that would legalize medicinal marijuana, which is allowed in 33 states.
Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings, which supplies packaging, vape hardware and solvents for the industry, called the election “monumental” for the future of marijuana.
New Jersey, in particular, could prove a linchpin in the populous Northeast, leading New York and Pennsylvania toward broad legalization, he said.
“It’s laying out a domino effect … that’s going to unlock the largest area of population behind the West Coast,” Kovacevich said.
The cannabis initiatives will draw voters to the polls who could influence other races, including the tight U.S. Senate battle in Arizona.
In Colorado, one supporter of legal cannabis could lose his seat. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is struggling in an increasingly Democratic state where some in the industry have lost faith in his ability to get things done in Washington.
Despite the spread of legalization in states and a largely hands-off approach under President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate has blocked