Welcome to Leafly’s live coverage of 2016 Election Day! With cannabis reform measures on the ballot in nine states, this election could be a historic win for the legalization movement. Leafly will be updating this page with as-they-happen results, dispatches from correspondents across the country, and commentary from around the cannabis community (all times are Pacific Standard Time). We’ll also be providing regular video updates from Leafly HQ on Periscope and Facebook Live.
The Maine secretary of state’s office has received an official request for a ballot recount following voters’ passage last week of an adult-use legalization law—the first, along with Massachusetts, to pass on the East Coast. The count has been close throughout the tabulation process, with unofficial tallies from the state showing that voters approved Question 1 by margin of less than half a percentage point. More than 750,000 people voted on the measure, and the current count has legalization winning by less than 4,000.
A contested election, however, isn’t the only risk to the newly passed law. Gov. Paul LePage has signaled that he’ll drag his feet on the measure, appealing to President-elect Donald Trump to ask about his plans to enforce the federal prohibition on cannabis. LePage, a brash opponent of legalization, has called Question 1 “poorly drafted” and has said it will need numerous legislative fixes “if it goes into effect.” Under state law, the governor is tasked with “proclaiming” the election outcomes of ballot measures. —Ben Adlin
FRIDAY, Nov. 10, 12:05 p.m. — With absentee votes counted, Maine appears to have passed Question 1
On Thursday the Maine Secretary of State’s office was still counting absentee ballots to determine the outcome of Question 1, a statewide measure to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. After those votes were tabulated and added to the existing totals, it appeared on Friday that the measure passed—but opponents still aren’t quite ready to call the race. Scott Gagnon, an opposition organizer, has been defiant on Twitter, saying the yes campaign “certainly has no mandate from this vote” and indicating opponents will demand a recount:
Question 1: Difference between Yes and No is 0.035%. Yes, we are exercising our right to make sure the result is accurate and fair to all.
12:06 p.m. — AP calls Maine’s adult-use cannabis race, projects Question 1 will pass
The Secretary of State’s office is still counting more than 4,000 absentee ballots, but the Associated Press and Portland Press Herald project that those votes won’t be enough to change what appears to be a winning result for Question 1, which would legalize adult-use cannabis in Maine. If the projection is made official, Maine will become the eighth US state with a regulated cannabis market for adults 21 and over.
Opponents tell the Press Herald they’re gearing up to request a recount as they wait for the remaining absentee votes to be tallied. “We’re standing firm,” Scott Gagnon, an organizer of a campaign against legalization, told the AP. —Ben Adlin
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9, 9:26 a.m. — Maine’s cannabis vote boils down to overseas absentee ballots
Maine’s vote on whether to allow cannabis for adult use is the only legalization measure this election yet to be called—and now the Portland Press Herald reports that we may not know the final result until next week. Currently the measure, Question 1, leads by fewer than 3,000 votes with nearly all precincts reporting. Roughly 4,000 overseas absentee ballots are now being hand counted and could determine the initiative’s fate.
The Maine Secretary of State’s office said Thursday that the official results will be released publicly as soon as they’re available. —Ben Adlin
1:33 p.m. — Here’s what legal cannabis looks like today
Of the many things we learned about American voters last night, here’s a big one: We’re just about ready for prohibition to be over—and not only in crunchy, left-leaning states. Assuming Maine passes its adult-use measure—the race is still close, but passage looks likely—an impressive 8 of 9 states approved legalization measures on Tuesday. All of the four medical marijuana initiatives passed, and all but one state considering adult-use legalization, Arizona, ultimately supported it.
Cannabis is now legal for adults 21 and over in eight states and the District of Columbia. More than half of all states—28 after Tuesday—allow cannabis for medical use. It’s an impressive-looking map, especially compared to just a few years ago. And as Reason’s Jacob Sullum notes, it deals a big blow to dogmatic prohibitionists.
12:55 p.m. — Denver social use initiative remains too close to call
The day after the election, the prospects for Denver’s Initiative 300, which would allow cannabis consumption by adults in licensed establishments, are still uncertain. The Denver Post is reporting the results are still too close to call. —Ben Adlin
4:00 a.m. — Colorado county rejects retail ban, announces cannabis museum
DENVER — After a substantial delay that took vote counting well into the night, the unofficial results show that the proposed ban on adult-use cannabis businesses in Pueblo County, known as Question 200, has been denied. The announcement came just before 1 a.m. that the people of Pueblo were projected to reject the measure.
The proposed countywide ban had 30,626 votes against, or 55 percent, and 24,678 votes for, or 44 percent. Question 300, in the city of Pueblo, had 19,442 votes against, or 58 percent, and 14,068 votes for, at 42 percent. No-on-200 spokesperson Jim Parco says, “the citizens of Pueblo County have spoken and their message is clear. They have seen the positive impacts that the regulated, retail marijuana industry has had in Pueblo County.”
As promised, the news of the proposition’s defeat was paired with a big announcement. Pueblo will soon host what’s being billed as the first national marijuana museum, thanks to the region’s cannabis industry: “With our community’s rich history tied to marijuana, it is only fitting that The National Marijuana Museum should be located her—to be owned by the people, for the people,” Parco says.
The museum will be curated and designed by a community-based committee chaired by Branson Haney, owner of Legacy Homes of Pueblo. “With now more than 30 states having legalized marijuana,” Haney said, “it is now time to lead the effort on improving education and knowledge of marijuana’s rich history—scientifically, socially and culturally. And we’re going to do it right here in Pueblo, Colorado.” —Lindsey Bartlett
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9, 12:24 a.m. — AP projects Arizona legalization measure will fail
Proposition 205, which would have legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over, failed at the ballot box Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. A large percentage of Republican voters opposed the measure, with 8 in 10 GOP voters surveyed saying they voted against it. Age was also a factor, with roughly 6 of 10 voters ages 18 to 44 supporting the measure and a majority of voters over 45 opposing it. Men and college graduates were split on the proposition, according to exit poll data provided by the AP.
“In pinpointing the reasons for this local setback, front and center are the huge and unseemly contributions to the opposition campaign from Big Pharma, a company that makes money selling food to prisons and a casino billionaire,” Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell said in a statement. “Our opponents used this money to bombard Arizona voters with ‘Reefer Madness’ scare tactics.” —Ben Adlin
11:57 p.m. — Maine newspaper says voters have legalized adult-use cannabis
Despite a slim margin, Maine’s Bangor Daily News is projecting that Question 1, which would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over, has narrowly passed. “For the past few years, we have highlighted the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and questioned the logic of laws that steer adults toward the more dangerous substance,” David Boyer, manager for the yes campaign, said in a statement, “Once Question 1 goes into effect, adults in Maine will no longer be punished for making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer.”
Given the close margin and the number of precincts still to report results, Leafly News has decided not to call the race just yet. We’ll keep you posted as more ballots are counted. —Ben Adlin
11:55 p.m. — Montana patients and providers cheer passage of I-182
MISSOULA — Montana medical marijuana patients and providers rejoiced early Wednesday morning as official results of Initiative 182 streamed in. With the majority of state votes now counted, the measure looks almost certain to pass.
Montana Citizens for I-182 Treasurer Jeff Krauss made the following statement from Bozeman: “Montana voters made the compassionate decision today, restoring access to medical marijuana for sick and suffering patients. We’re thrilled with the result, but mainly we’re heartened that patients … will once again have access to the medicine they need in their battles with cancer.
“When the legislature passed SB 423,” he continued, “it acted without regard to patients with serious debilitating illnesses. When the new restrictions went into effect, around 12,000 patients lost access overnight. Today, the voters corrected that wrong. Today, we replaced a system that was built to fail under SB 423 with a responsible and accountable medical marijuana law, one that will work for Montana and ensure that patients who need it, continue to have access.” —Lynsey G
For those of us focused on the issue of cannabis legalization, tonight’s election returns came as a magnificent shock. Five states considered adult-use legalization, four voted on medical cannabis. At the time of writing, it looks that all but one—poor Arizona—approved those measures. Almost nobody saw that coming.
These states appear at this time to have approved regulated legalization: California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine. These states legalized medical cannabis: Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota. Together, these states represent a total population of 75 million people.
Consider this: One in five Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults 21 and older. One in five.
The passage of regulated legalization in Colorado and Washington in 2012 felt like a door opening, ever so slightly. The results of November 2016 blew that door off its hinges and into the next room.
As President Obama remarked late last week: “The Justice Department, DEA, FBI, for them to try to straddle and figure out how they’re supposed to enforce laws in some places and not in others, they’re going to guard against transporting these drugs across state lines—you’ve got the entire Pacific Corridor where this is legal. That is not going to be tenable.”
No, that is not going to be tenable. And unless the federal government decides to deploy the DEA and the FBI against twenty percent of the American population, federal prohibition will not stand. It cannot stand. —Bruce Barcott
SAN FRANCISCO — As the event here winds down and the remaining partygoers stand around watching the election returns, John Maa, chair of the tobacco related disease research program at the University of California, makes a dour observation:
“The primary reason that recreational use in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska hasn’t been shut down by the federal govt. is that the Obama admin has chosen to look the other way. But,” says Maa, glancing at a shot of Trump”s face on the giant screen, “what happens with him?” —Paul Roberts
Donald Trump has won Pennsylvania, all but assuring that he will be the next president of the United States https://t.co/AZgXPK0IZC
10:38 p.m. — Montana patients celebrate expected win at polls
MISSOULA — At the Badlander pub in Missoula, the 56-percent lead of Initiative 182, which would reinstate the Montana medical cannabis program, is announced to cheers and applause, amidst calls for continued activism by cannabis proponents in the state. —Lynsey G
10:27 p.m. — Nevada will legalize adult-use cannabis, Leafly and others project
With the bulk of Nevada votes counted, the state’s adult-use legalization measure is enjoying a comfortable enough lead for Politico, the Associated Press, and others to call the race in its favor.
“Despite scare tactics funded by Sheldon Adelson and other casino interests, Nevadans just took a strong stand for smart marijuana policy. The state now stands to create jobs and generate millions in tax revenue by bringing the existing market for cannabis aboveground,” Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, said of the development. “Although Adelson’s money was enough to flip longstanding legalization support by the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board, he just couldn’t buy the votes of Nevadans who are eager to move beyond decades of failed prohibition policies.”
In light of the success of cannabis reform measures Tuesday, Angell also called on federal officials to update cannabis policies. “It’s also important to point out that legal marijuana seems likely to get more votes than either candidate in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. With California also voting for legalization, a huge chunk of the Western U.S. is now legal marijuana territory. And Massachusetts has brought legalization to the East Coast. It’s clearly time for federal law to change.”
10:16 p.m. — Arizona still expecting influx of votes for Prop. 205
Arizona is the lone cannabis measure trailing in tonight’s election results—but don’t count it out just yet. Melissa Blasius, a reporter at ABC15, says Pima County’s returns could still affect the outcome. —Ben Adlin
MISSOULA — Initiative 182, which would put the Montana medical cannabis system back into working order after a two-month shutdown when draconian measures of a 2011 Senate Bill were enforced this year, is holding a steady lead. With 139,002 votes so far (56%) tallied in favor of the initiative so far and only 106,094 (43%) opposed, medical marijuana proponents across the state are confident.
“Montanans have a lot of compassion.”
Jeff Krauss, treasurer, Montana Citizens for I-182
Jeff Krauss, treasurer for the Montana Citizens for I-182 campaign, told Leafly, “It does look like I-182 is going to pass, but I’m not going to jump up and down about it just yet, until the final results are in. … Medical cannabis already passed in the state of Montana, in 2004. The state legislature passed a de facto prohibition in 2011 [that was enforced in 2016], and I think the people of Montana didn’t appreciate that. Tonight is a repudiation of that legislation, and a repudiation of anything that goes against the will of the people.”
If I-182 passes tonight, the system of medical cannabis for Montanans suffering from a number of chronic pain conditions and PTSD will regain access to medicine after a two-month shutdown that shuttered providers and doctors in the state, despite a landslide victory in 2004 that saw well over 60% of voters statewide approve medical marijuana.
“Montanans have a lot of compassion,” said Krauss on election night. “Getting care for those people [who needed it] has always been very important to them.” —Lynsey Griswold
9:54 p.m. — In Pueblo, Colo., county clerk calls it quits for the night
DENVER — With 60,000 votes remaining to be counted, the Pueblo County clerk announced it won’t finish counting votes tonight. Malfunctions in the county’s voting system caused delays there, with voters at some polling places reporting waits of upward of 90 minutes.
Pueblo was the first county in Colorado, and the nation, to legalize adult-use cannabis. Tonight it could be the first to repeal. Pueblo County’s Proposition 200 aims to take recreational marijuana off the menu. —Lindsey Bartlett
9:44 p.m. — As Arizona trails, some point fingers at pro-cannabis extremists
PHOENIX — As Crescent Ballroom in Downtown Phoenix begins to clear out with the realization that Prop. 205 likely won’t be decided for another few days, those left lingering are wondering what’s next. Two West Valley dispensary employees, who asked not to be named, expressed anger over a counter pro-recreational marijuana campaign. Safer Arizona at first pushed for much fewer restrictions than Prop. 205, which would allow adults 21 and over to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis without a medical card and grow up to six plants, and it would maintain separation of medical and recreational dispensaries much like the Colorado model. “If [Safer Arizona] had their way, there would be zero regulation,” one twentysomething man said. So instead of supporting Prop 205, he said, many from Safer Arizona supported the opposition.
“It makes no sense,” he said. With Prop 205, at least, “the pros outweigh the cons.” —Lauren Loftus
9:38 p.m. — Social use in Denver stuck in dead heat
Ballot initiative 300, a social-use measure that would allow cannabis consumption on the premises of licensed establishments, has eked out a narrow, 50.6–49.3 lead, the Denver Post reports. —Leafly Staff
9:32 p.m. — Maine still waiting on results from big cities
Adult-use legalization in Maine is flirting with approval, maintaining a very slight lead with nearly two-thirds of votes counted. But a number of cities, including Bangor and Auburn, have yet to report results. —Crash Barry
Hang in there, Maine. @Leafly‘s Crash Barry says Portland’s votes still haven’t been counted. They should be heavily pro-legalization.
“Western states have led the way on legalizing marijuana but the victory in Massachusetts powerfully demonstrates that this movement is now bicoastal and soon to be national,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Indeed, I’d wager that the next states to legalize marijuana will also be in the Northeast—and they’ll be the first in the country to do so through the legislature rather than the ballot box.”
8:59 p.m. — California passes Prop. 64, making adult-use cannabis legal on entire West Coast
Approved ballot measures take effect the day after the election unless otherwise specified by the measure. So Prop. 64 becomes law on Wednesday, Nov. 9. But if you think your nearest medical dispensary will start selling you cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation anytime soon, not so fast. Read Leafly’s guide to Prop. 64 for more on what to expect—and when. —Ben Adlin
PHOENIX — Looks like things are exactly as the people behind Prop 205 expected. Adam Kinsey, manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, took the stage at Crescent Ballroom amid cheers to essentially press pause on the crowd’s eagerness to find out whether Arizona becomes the next state to legalize recreational marijuana use.
“We first said [at 8 p.m.] that early voting results were going to be bad for us,” Kinsey said. “Well, guess what? They were.”
With just over 50 percent of precincts reporting, the no votes are pulling ahead with nearly 53 percent of the vote. However, there are nearly 400,000 early and provisional ballots yet to be counted. Kinsey said once these are counted, his campaign expects to pull ahead.
“The bad news is we’re probably not going to know tonight,” he said. “It might even take until Thursday.” —Lauren Loftus
8:22 p.m. — AP, LA Times say Prop. 64 will pass, but many still feel it’s too early
OAKLAND, Calif. — At the New Parish in downtown Oakland, some of the biggest names behind Prop. 64 — Steve and Andrew DeAngelo,. cannabis attorney Henry G. Wykowski, ArcView co-founder Troy Dayton, among others, are awaiting returns from across the nation.
With cannabis on so many different state ballots, says Harborside Health Center founder Steve DeAngelo, “it’s the closest we’ve come to a national referendum.” Still, despite impressive number from other states, and with 20 minutes until California state polls close, there is an air of uncertainty, born, perhaps, of years of disappointment.
“With cannabis you just don’t know until all the votes are counted,” says Steve DeAngelo. Adds brother Andrew: “We’ll be watching very carefully.” —Paul Roberts
BOSTON — As the polls close in Massachusetts and the numbers continue to pour in, Question 4 supporters in Boston gathered in the Back Bay grow more optimistic about the passage of the ballot measure.
Bill Downing, owner of CBD Please in Allston, Mass., and a longtime activist for cannabis reform, senses the time for legal cannabis has finally, finally, arrived.
“We’ve had so much Reefer Madness for so many years, and when I was a kid during the Vietnam War, I heard the federal government telling us that using marijuana caused men to grow breasts,” he said with a sad laugh. “That it would cause you genetic defects, brain cell death, this, that, example after example of ridiculous propaganda. And I think that after a while people get to understand it’s ridiculous propaganda.” Downing noted under the glow of the latest return of Question 4 winning that the people that were in opposition to Question 4 could’ve played it smart and stuck to some “not too bad salient points they may have had” but that they fell into the same old game of Reefer Madness.
Downing, who in July of 2015 had law enforcement agents raid his home dressed in full flak gear and touting assault rifles pointed at his wife and sons during a sweep of his home, is no stranger to the effects of prohibition.
Does Question 4’s momentum have enough mustard to go the distance? Downing is confident.
Denver, which has had legal adult-years cannabis for years now, is voting on whether or not to allow adults to consume on the premises of licensed establishments. Denver Post reporter Jon Murray says the latest results show a close race. —Leafly Staff
In Denver, new batch of results: Initiative 300 (on #marijuana use at permitted businesses) still hanging on, 50.6%-49.4% #ElectionNight
MISSOULA — Polls have been closed in Montana for just half an hour, with 3 out of 686 precincts reporting their local results thus far.
I-182, the ballot initiative that would reinstate the Montana medical cannabis program with added licensing requirements, testing protocols, and better access for veterans, looks to be passing in early results, with 56 percent of tallied votes so far going in favor of the initiative.
Vote counters will likely be working late into the night, with a voting machine glitch in Cascade County allowing officials to count only 20 ballots at a time, and with voting lines still stretching on for hours in many polling locations. Spirits are high amongst medical cannabis proponents in the Treasure State, however, as the results continue to favor Initiative 182. —Lynsey G
7:28 p.m. — Arizona doesn’t like government interference, even with cannabis
PHOENIX — Carlos Alfaro, Arizona’s Prop. 205 campaign manager, seemed to be breathing a long sigh of relief as the polls closed and the clock counted down to the first results being posted at 8 p.m. “We’ve been working at this for two years,” he laughed. “It’s up to the voters now.” Alfaro was confident that a recreational marijuana law is something Arizonans will pass, despite early numbers showing it lagging, and wasn’t phased by the efforts of opponents—namely, Arizonans For Responsible Drug Policy—to get residents to vote no.
“I was surprised that they didn’t surprise me,” he said of the “Reefer Madness mentality” scare tactics used to oppose his campaign. But Arizonans, he said, are smarter than that. As for the question of “Why Arizona?”—given that it’s such a traditionally conservative state—Alfaro said tje state “has an independent streak. … We don’t like being told what to do.” —Lauren Loftus
7:23 p.m. — Boston cannabis supporters contemplate Trump win
BOSTON — “If we win Question 4 under a president Trump, it’ll be like winning a bottle of great champagne while boarding the Titanic,” Yes on 4 husband-and-wife team tell Leafly. —Dan McCarthy
7:11 p.m. — Maine advocates optimistic despite close race
PORTLAND, Maine — The folks are smiling despite the tight race. Cheers came with the announcement that western Maine town of Farmington—a hotbed of anti-Question 1 campaigning by the angry caregivers—came in at 2055 yes votes and 1,877 no votes. —Crash Barry
6:53 p.m. — Arizona Democrats pack hipster bar to watch results
PHOENIX — Polls have officially closed in Arizona, where we’re as stalwart in our political views as we are in our stance against following Daylight Saving Time.
At the Leafly Election Night viewing party at Crescent Ballroom in Downtown Phoenix, this hipster haven in the middle of red suburbs has already started packing in Democrats eager to see whether Donald Trump will eek out Florida. Caitlin McQuarrie, a 26-year-old self-described cannabis consumer who voted for Prop 205, Arizona’s adult use marijuana measure, says: “There’s no use making something illegal that has so many potential benefits.” McQuarrie says she uses it to treat her anxiety.
Meanwhile, two friends and health care professionals who managed to snag a coveted booth in the packed bar argued over the merits of Prop 205. Patricia Roca voted for the measure, saying she sees a real economic benefit in passing recreational pot. She dismissed her friend’s recounting of a news story in which a few Colorado lawmakers and law enforcers urged Arizona not to pass the measure and “make the same mistakes we did.”
Lola Martinez, who does not live in Arizona but says she would have voted no on Prop 205, says people who need marijuana for medical reasons can already get it so there’s no real need to pass it recreationally. “The way they’re marketing it now is as edibles to kids,” she says, “It pisses me off!” —Lauren Loftus
6:46 p.m. — Buckle up, Montana could be in for a long night
MISSOULA — On Oct. 20, the Billings Gazette reported that a majority of Montana voters opposed the ballot initiative, I-182, that would reinstate Montana’s medical cannabis program. But just two days before the election, the same newspaper publicly stated that it supported I-182 and the rights of Montana patients to access their medicine. With public opinion clearly divided, nerves are on edge as the final hours of the election come into sight in Montana.
Montanans use absentee ballots heavily, with around 240,000 of the state’s voters voting by mail. Nearly 90 percent of absentee ballots have arrived at their respective polling places in the state as of 6:45 p.m. MST. Meanwhile, voters are lining up in the state’s far-flung metropolitan centers, with the line at the Gallatin County Courthouse in Bozeman stretching out the door and out the corner and the estimated wait time at the Kalispell Election Department standing at approximately three hours.
Same-day registration is allowed at Montana polling places, which means that some of those currently waiting in long lines around the state may be looking to register on-site. Already today, well over 6,000 Montanans have registered at the polls. Montana has historically had one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation, so it is looking like this could be a long night. —Lynsey G
6:31 p.m. — With Florida win, majority of states now allow medical cannabis
With Florida voters’ passage of Amendment 2, more than half of all US states now allow medical cannabis to treat qualifying conditions.
“This is a major tipping point,” said Tom Angell, founder of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority. “With Florida’s decision, a majority of states in the U.S. now have laws allowing patients to find relief with medical marijuana, and these protections and programs are no longer concentrated in certain regions of the country like the West and Northeast.
“It looks like medical cannabis will get more votes tonight than whoever ends up winning the presidential and U.S. Senate races,” Angell continued, “and that shows just how mainstream this issue has become. The next president and the new Congress need to get to work right away in 2017 on modernizing federal law so medical cannabis patients and the businesses that serve them in a growing number of states don’t have to worry that the DEA could knock down their doors at any minute.”
If all five states with adult-use measures pass them, the number of Americans who live in legal cannabis states will quadruple. All told, nearly a quarter of the US population will live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults 21 and over. —Ben Adlin
6:16 p.m. — Colorado voting extension denied. If you’re in line, stay there
DENVER — The Colorado Democratic Party has filed an injunction with a federal judge to keep Colorado polls open an extra two hours. But the effort, which would have closed polls at 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., was denied.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams tweeted at 3:31 p.m.: “Our voter registration system went down 29 minutes, from 2:47 p.m. to 3:1 p.m. It is back up now. We are investigating.”
He tweeted the ruling at 6:53 p.m. MST: “Extension denied. Anyone in line at 7 p.m. can still vote.”
The voter registration system in the state reportedly went down for about 30 minutes today, at two separate intervals. Long lines have been reported, with voters in Boulder and Pueblo counties reporting wait times upwards of 90 minutes. —Lindsey Bartlett
6:09 p.m. — How did Florida pass? Campaign explains measure’s success
Leafly spoke with Ben Pollara, political consultant and campaign manager for Florida’s medical marijuana United for Care campaign, to provide some context on the factors that helped pass the state’s long-anticipated medical cannabis initiative, Amendment 2.
“This time around, what was wrong with the law, we fixed,” Pollara told Leafly. “Whether the arguments against it were logical or not, we rewrote the law this time to dispense with those arguments.”
Arizona polls have closed. If you’re still in line, though, don’t leave! You’re allowed to vote if you were in line before the deadline. —Leafly Staff
5:50 p.m. — Mass., Maine remain too close to call
Of the three East Coast cannabis races this election season, the first one has been called. Flordia voters are projected to pass Amendment 2 to legalize medical cannabis in the state. But in Massachusetts and Maine, where voters are considering legalization for all adults 21 and over, the returns are still neck and neck. —Ben Adlin
5:25 p.m. — Florida passes Question 2 to legalize medical marijuana, Leafly News projects
With more than half of ballots having been counted, support for Amendment 2 leads opposition, roughy 70–20. That’s enough for us at Leafly News to call the race for supporters. In other words: Congratulations, Florida!
Keep in mind that the measure needs a 60-percent supermajority to pass. We’ll be continually monitoring Florida returns and updating our results accordingly. —Leafly Staff
5:23 p.m. — Mass. legalization proponents thank “Kevin” for commercial that backfired
BOSTON — In the steamy, crowded basement bar at LIR in Boston’s Back Bay, pro-cannabis supporters have packed the room in support of the Yes on 4 campaign in Massachusetts.
Sauntering around the room in a suit and a wry grin is Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Yes on 4 Campaign. As the returns continue to glow from the flat screens around the room, Borghesani notes that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome tonight.
“I think the thing that worked for us is the other states that came before us,” he told me. “It’s worked in those other states. We had a more convincing argument than the other side did. We had traffic data, teen data—every time a report came out showing flat teen use, it dissipated their argument. Every time a report came out about no increase of OUI arrests, deaths, all of the data coming out of those states it punctured their arguments, you could almost hear the air coming out.”
Borghesani said the opposition, if nothing else, is tenacious in its dubious methods to sway voters today.
“They kept trying but it never worked,” he said, pointing to the notorious “Kevin’s Mom” commercial that Question 4 opponents launched a few weeks back. The ad has since been utterly ridiculed and picked apart in local press and social media. “That was so ridiculous, the effect was the opposite,” said Borhesani. “It insulted voters. It backfired. It was so over-the-top and non-factual that nobody who was on the fence considered it a credible persuasive argument.” —Dan McCarthy
5:13 p.m. — Florida, Massachusetts, Maine advocates optimistic about legalization
Excitement is mounting in East Coast states as Florida, Massachusetts, and Maine await election results.
5:04 p.m. — Historically conservative Florida counties side with legalization
Florida results are now streaming in, and things so far look good for Amendment 2. Franklin County, on the north Gulf Coast, has voted heavily Republican since 2000. Today the county has voted to legalize medical marijuana, with 73 percent voting yes—and that’s with 100 percent of votes being reported. The same is true for Bradford County, which voted 65–35 on the measure. Bradford county is another historically Republican county, having backed Romney 70–30 over Obama in 2012. —Gage Peake
4:58 p.m. — Maine legalization campaign says state exit polls look good
PORTLAND, Me. — Forty-five minutes before the polls in Maine close, Paul McCarrier of Legalize Maine, a co-author of the Act to Legalize Marijuana, wants to order dinner, but his pals keep texting and texting and texting. “Our field reports are coming in pretty positive,” he said, while checking his phone continuously in the lobby of the Westin Hotel in downtown Portland. “We’ve exit-polled 500 people in Bangor, Old Town, and Orono, and 90 percent have told our canvassers they voted yes on [Question] 1.”
That’s a heck of lot higher number than the 50 percent recent Maine polls have showed. “I know. I’m surprised,” McCarrier said. He blames possible “voter shyness” on the difference. “Imagine getting a phone call and the kids are home,” he said, “and you’re on the phone [with a pollster]. Are you going to admit to using marijuana or wanting it legalized?”
While he’s not claiming victory yet, he feels confident—though he admits there are still a couple of wild cards, such as Maine’s growing Muslim immigrant and refugee population. “We don’t know how they are gonna vote,” he said. “If they’re classic religious conservatives, they might be against legalizing cannabis. At the same time, as refugees persecuted for their beliefs, they might say, ‘We don’t think the government should be persecuting people for using marijuana.’” —Crash Barry
4:46 p.m. — Arizona’s Prop. 205 likely to hinge on a few thousand votes
PHOENIX — In typical Arizona fashion, Election Day is a hot one, both in terms of temperature and politics. With the mercury hitting the high-80s across the Phoenix Valley, long lines began forming as soon as the polls opened at 6 a.m.
The tweets began rolling in almost immediately. Nervous voters began experiencing déjà vu from the presidential primary in March, when Maricopa County officials cut polling places by more than half, causing some really dedicated people to wait up to five hours to vote. Meanwhile, a handful of polling places have confirmed that computer glitches are delaying ballot submissions. In Phoenix, students from two area high schools staged walkouts in protest over the controversial immigration policies of presidential candidate Donald Trump and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
As for Proposition 205, Arizona’s adult-use legalization act, campaign officials are expecting a tight race. Barrett Marson of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol said on Monday that volunteers were executing a last-minute phone push. That came after two sizable donations to the campaign last Friday—$750,000 total—from Drug Policy Action non profit and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Chairman J.P. Holyoak told the Arizona Republic last week that the measure could be decided by fewer than 4,000 votes, which is how many it took for the state’s medical marijuana measure to squeak by in 2010. This time around, in a traditionally conservative state that’s voted red in every presidential race since 1952 (not counting Bill Clinton in 1996) but has seen Hillary Clinton and Democrats pushing hard here in recent days, Barrett says, “It will be close for sure.” —Lauren Loftus
4:39 p.m. — California voters weighing legalization carefully
SAN FRANCISCO — Prop. 64 is drawing its own version of protest votes—that is, opposition votes by pro-legalization voters who object to parts of the measure.
One complaint: Some worry that Prop. 64 is biased in favor of big cannabis businesses and against the players who control the current industry. “I voted against it,” says Bella, a twentysomething professional I met near a Market Street deli. “I have a lot of friends in the industry who think it’s going to lead to monopolies, and personally, I’m not really fond of any kind of concentration of industry power.”
Under Prop. 64, existing cannabis businesses get a leg up in license applications.
Other critics are more philosophical about the post-64 world. NORML’s Dale Geiringer, for example, believes the simple fact of legalization itself will subject traditional producers to economic pressures that cannot help but change how and where cannabis is grown—and who grows it. For example, many growers chose the Emerald Triangle not for its prime agricultural conditions, Geiringer says, but because the terrain there made for easy concealment.
With farmers no longer needing to hide, he says, the industry will be forced, by competitive pressure, to seek out the regions that offer the best growing conditions, which Geiringer thinks will be the Central Valley: “There is a legitimate fear that the industry could very well move away from its heartland in the Emerald Triangle and to these agricultural regions and then sort of go corporate.” —Paul Roberts
4:22 p.m. — Early Florida results show Amendment 2 in lead
Take these numbers with a big grain of salt, as only a sliver of Florida’s votes have been counted. Nevertheless, reports from Politico and the Associated Press show Amendment 2 with an appreciable lead. We’re working to confirm those numbers and will update you once we can. Keep in mind, the state has two time zones—one is still voting—and the state Division of Elections doesn’t begin announcing official results until all polls are closed.
4:17 p.m. — Montana patients on pins and needles as they await election results
MISSOULA — As voting hours wind down in Montana, polling places here remain largely sedate. Lines are short and voters appear to be in high spirits. Providers and patients in the state’s currently-shuttered medical marijuana program, however, are on pins and needles as they await election results. Montana ballot initiative I-182 is poised to overturn the draconian measures imposed by the state legislature, which effectively shut down the state’s medical marijuana program earlier this year. That move left 12,000 patients across the state without access to medicine.
An employee of one local medical cannabis provider says she and her employer considered putting together an election results viewing party at their shop, but decided against it, too afraid that there would be tears if the results don’t go as they hope.
An employee at another provider says with a smile, “I can’t imagine that I-182 won’t pass.” But she follows her statement with a wince of apprehension. “At least, I hope it will.” —Lynsey G
4:04 p.m. — Colorado county could be first to repeal adult-use legalization
DENVER — Pueblo was the first county in Colorado, and the nation, to legalize adult-use cannabis. Tonight it could be the first to repeal. Pueblo County’s Proposition 200 aims to take recreational marijuana off the menu. Jim Parco, a leader of the anti-Prop 200 group Growing Pueblo’s Future, believes the measure’s passage would have a catastrophic effect.
“It’s hard to really talk about how the community the size of Pueblo is doing when you see so little, but our 1,300 employees in the industry here have had a gun to their heads for the past four months,” Parco told Leafly. “This’ll be a reckoning. There’s a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of tension.”
“No one wants to see us go back to prohibition, no one wants to see what this would do to Pueblo if it passed,” Parco added. We have a strong voter turnout, which will likely be in our best interest. Aside from that, we can’t make predictions until the polls have closed.”
The No On 200 folks will be gathering at the Green Light Tavern in Pueblo tonight starting at 7:30 p.m. Parco promises an exciting announcement if Proposition 200 fails to pass. —Lindsey Bartlett
4:01 p.m. — As polls close, Floridians have mixed predictions on medical marijuana
ORLANDO—Late this morning at a restaurant in Melbourne, a beach town an hour east of Orlando, a fit, sixtyish couple polishing off their waffles declared they were pro-Amendment 2 and hoped it passed. “There’s a lot of folks who are older in Florida,” the woman told me. “A lot of good can be done if they’re taking [medical cannabis] and not ingesting these pharmaceuticals.”
“It just makes good sense,” the man added. “The science is overwhelming.”
My twentysomething waitress was more realistic. “I’m from California,” she said. “I’m for it. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart. I don’t think Florida’s ready for it. It’d be cool if it did [get legalized]. But … have you seen all the Trump signs around here?”
And a thirtyish, politically-aware Best Buy salesman said he thought Amendment 2 would be most likely to pass—if people decided it could help them economically: “We’re a very business-focused state,” he said. “Anything we pass on the ballot, like these theme parks, we want to make sure it has a positive impact on the economy. If you focus it like that, you can get something passed in this state. But … it’s going to be close.” —Katie Matlack
PORTLAND, Me. — “I voted yes to legalize marijuana,” said Portland bookstore owner Russ Sargent. “It’s about time, but I will feel sorry for all those medical marijuana growers who are going to have to lower their prices.”
‘I hope Question 1 passes so that the state can start collecting taxes on marijuana, instead of all the money going to drug dealers,” said Mike Fink, who owns a pawnshop two blocks from Portland City Hall. “Everyone will be happy with the revenue, that’s for sure.”
“We’re feeling optimistic,” said Alysia Melnick, political director for Yes on One. “We feel that the people of Maine understand that cannabis will bring all kinds of opportunities and benefits and they don’t need to be scared of it. And they realize we need a rational approach to drug policy.” —Crash Barry
3:34 p.m. — Drug war tropes still guide Mass. cannabis opponents
BOSTON — As voters headed to the polls here today, there was a palpable sense of this one’s gonna be tight—for both supporters and opponents of cannabis legalization.
After walking through Boston’s South End and Back Bay neighborhoods, and popping in on a half dozen polling places, I can report that lines seemed to move quickly and there were hardly any visible signs of strife. Most of the ballot placards I saw dealt with the charter school question, but the Yes-on-4 presence was visible on telephone poles and cast iron fences near numerous polling stations.
At the Boston Public Library, streams of voters filed in and out while Jeff Galen and his son held up signs pumping for Trump. A Back Bay resident who works on Wall Street, Galen was all in for the Donald, but not so much for cannabis.
“I voted against Question 4,” he said. His reason? Galen believes in the gateway drug theory. “There’s not one person that’s a heroin addict today that didn’t first at some point try pot,” he told me. “So, I’m firmly in the camp of those guys who think it’s a gateway drug.” He went on to cite his fear that a flood of “pot shops” could wreak havoc on the Commonwealth.
“So for those reasons, as they say on Shark Tank, ‘I’m out’,” he said. —Dan McCarthy
ORLANDO — If you believe in omens, the fact that I woke at dawn to see a knee-high bobcat stalking across my hotel grounds may portend a bright future for supporters of Florida’s Amendment 2. But if you look to the reality on the ground, things look a little less rosy. Upon learning that I was in town to cover the medical marijuana ballot measure, for instance, the receptionist at my Orlando hotel made me sign a non-smoking waiver and leave a $50 deposit—and then refused to let me use the printer. Old prejudices die hard.
If you look only at the yard signs, this is serious Trump country. Trump/Pence signs and slogans dominate Space Coast lawns and business marquees. In coastal Brevard County, I passed an open precinct that looked festive but deserted. There are reports of Trump voters waving Trump—and Confederate—flags near Sunshine State polling sites, which strikes me as sad but unsurprising.
3:22 p.m. — Maine election officials predict record turnout
PORTLAND, Me. — Huge numbers of Mainers are flocking to the polls during a day of clear blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures. Voters have a very crowded ballot to consider, with adult-use cannabis legalization, Question 1, at the top of the list. Mainers are also voting on citizen initiatives to raise the minimum wage, expand background checks for gun purchases, and to change the election process by instituting ranked-choice voting. Election officials are predicting a record turnout, expecting 65 percent of voting-aged Mainers to cast ballots. Some polling places are reporting hourlong waits before entering the voting booth, due to large numbers of people registering to vote for the first time. —Crash Barry
3:10 p.m. — Long lines reported at some polling places
Voting closes in Florida in less than an hour. On the West Coast, we’ve got a bit more time. But don’t delay—observers are reporting long lines at some polling places that could mean delays for voters. Campaigns, meanwhile, are urging supporters to remain at the polls despite long lines. Remember: If you’re in line by the time polls close, you are allowed to cast a ballot. Most states have laws on the books to that effect.
If someone stops you from voting and you were in line before the polls closed, call the Department of Justice Civil Rights Department at 1-800-253-3931 or email them at email@example.com. You can also submit an election complaint report on the DOJ website. —Ben Adlin
3:02 p.m. — Cannabis media are chomping at the bit for exit poll info
Wondering where the exit poll data can be found? So are we. While networks aren’t conducting exit polls in every state this year—including four with cannabis measures on the ballot—all of us are looking frantically for exit polls that give some indication of how things are shaping up. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted as information comes in.
Folks getting those exit polls: Is there a marijuana question in there?
2:35 p.m. — California voters see long, complicated process ahead if Prop. 64 passes
SAN FRANCISCO — Many voters here seem conscious of the fact that Prop. 64 is simply a step in the process, and that passage—assuming it happens—will answer some questions but raise many more.
“After it becomes legal—that’s when the real fight begins,” declares Wade Woods, a 70-year-old San Franciscan who has worked on numerous political campaigns. “Where are you going to sell it? Do you just limit it to the poor neighborhoods? Do you spread it around? There’s this false dichotomy that all weed smokers are poor—but if you live in an upscale neighborhood, are you going to want all these weed smokers coming through? And what about the business-side? What about all the new products? The edibles. Can anyone make those? Do you and me make some weed peanut butter and get us a distributorship?” —Paul Roberts
2:26 p.m. — A quick reminder: Legalization doesn’t increase teen consumption
Concerns over whether legalization would increase cannabis consumption by minors have been front and center in opponents’ arguments against legal cannabis. We here at Leafly have wondered about that, too. Luckily, there’s good news: The indications we’ve seen—and there have been a few—suggest teen consumption tends to stay roughly the same or even decrease after a state transitions to legal, regulated markets. —Ben Adlin
2:01 p.m. — Turnout around left-leaning Orlando already higher than 2012
Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, a DC-based political data website, is reporting that Orange County, Fla. (which encompasses Orlando), has already reported 45,000 more ballots cast than all of 2012—and that was with more than three hours of voting left. The county has historically leaned to the left; Obama won by 18 percent in 2012. Does this mean good news for Amendment 2 supporters in the state? Possibly. The county went for medical marijuana legalization in 2014, 59 percent to 41 percent. Then again, Florida’s Amendment 2 needs 60 percent voter approval to win. So a boosted vote total in Orange County may or may not do the legalization measure much good. —Gage Peake
Uh, wow. Obama won Orange County, FL by 18%. They are reporting 45k MORE ballots cast than all of ’12, with over 3 hours of voting left.
1:53 p.m. — Denver could vote to allow social consumption
DENVER — The big question the Mile High City faces in 2016 is Question 300, a citywide ballot measure that would create a Public Consumption Use Pilot Program. In other words: legalized social use. Question 300 would allow businesses (bars, cafes, yoga studios, art studios) to apply for a city permit to allow bring-your-own cannabis, and create indoor and/or outdoor consumption areas for adults 21 and older.
Entrepreneur, cannabis advocate, and dispensary owner Kayvan Khalatbari is one of the creators of Question 300. He told Leafly he wishes the Yes on 300 movement had more time to educate the public. “I’m an eternal pessimist when it comes to elections, especially in cannabis.” Khalatbari said. “To be honest, I didn’t think Amendment 64 was going to pass [in 2012] and then it surprised me. My hesitation on I-300 passing is because this topic is so darn new, I don’t think people had enough time to fully absorb the information and proposed reality. I believe there is still a lot of misinformation floating around about what it will actually mean for Denver. I think if people actually knew and we started this campaign in the spring as opposed to late summer, we could have had that educational impact.”
Part of Khalatbari’s doubt rises from his fear that young voters won’t turn out in the numbers that Question 300 needs in order to pass. “I also worry about the presidential candidates available to us this year disenfranchising younger people from this voting process. Those are folks that are pretty on board with social use cannabis, but if they aren’t voting it won’t matter.” The Yes on 300 team hosts an election watch party at the longtime Lower Denver bar El Charrito tonight beginning at 7 p.m. —Lindsey Bartlett
1:49 p.m. — How are things looking? What will pass?
Polls have yet to close in any state so far (see our post from 10:36 a.m. for hours), but the latest survey results give us an indication of which legalization measures have the best chance of passage.
“Failure to pass the legalization proposal in California would be the only truly surprising outcome among all five state legalization measures.”
Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post
Leafly has been tracking surveys throughout the election season, updating our predictions as the data change. In a nutshell: Things were looking good as we went into Election Day, but the outlook for most measures is still uncertain. You can see deputy editor Bruce Barcott’s picks here.
In terms of adult-use, California looks almost sure to pass. “Support has been so consistent,” writes the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham, “that a failure to pass the legalization proposal in California would be the only truly surprising outcome among all five state legalization measures.” Massachusetts and Nevada are also trending toward yes, as is Maine—barely.
As for medical marijuana measures, Florida looks promising. All other states considering the issue—Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota—have much longer odds. —Ben Adlin
1:34 p.m. — Mainstream media needs to elevate the conversation
We haven’t been shy about calling out media outlets, especially those on the East Coast, for mishandling or misrepresenting cannabis issues. It looks like we’re not alone. The Brookings Institute’s John Hudak, a top cannabis policy wonk, rolled his eyes at CNN’s discussion of state legalization measures. —Ben Adlin
CNN’s current discussion of #marijuana ballot initiatives is a not-so-shocking embarrassment of intellectual poverty.
1:23 p.m. — Exit polls will skip Massachusetts, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota
The consortium of news networks that commissions election exit polls will skip 28 states today, including four states with cannabis measures on the ballot. Massachusetts, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota will not be surveyed, according to Politico, as news networks focus instead on larger and more competitive states.
That means we’ll have to wait until those states start reporting official results. That usually occurs shortly after the polls close, though some states, like Arkansas, have said the first results may not be available until closer to an hour after voting ends. —Ben Adlin
12:14 p.m. — Mild East Coast weather encourages voter turnout
Boston’s funky oasis of Jamaica Plain is seeing long lines and a number of No-on-2 campaign signs at polling places, Metro Boston‘s Kristin Toussaint reports. Here’s the scene outside the John F. Kennedy school:
Up in Maine, Leafly correspondant Crash Barry says the weather is unseasonably warm—a good sign for voters heading to polling places. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused chaos in the final week of the election by threatening to close polling places. No problems are expected this year: Highs in Maine should hit the 50s, which is slightly above normal.
11:16 a.m. — Prop. 64 isn’t the only cannabis vote on California’s ballot
SAN FRANCISCO—For all the attention it’s getting, the drama around Prop. 64 isn’t the only cannabis-related story on the California ballot today. As we’ve seen in Colorado, Washington, and other cannabis-friendly states, translating a yes vote into a workable, practical system takes a lot of effort. In the coming months, Prop. 64 will need to be rendered into specific regulations and procedures by state agencies and legislators and, especially, cities and counties. And even though though a majority of Californians support legalization, plenty of Californians still oppose it—and many of those opponents are in positions of power, whether in local office, the state Legislature, or Congress. These players can influence how legalization is rolled out, and even whether it’s rolled out. In many cities and counties, opponents are running ballot initiatives that would restrict or even ban adult-use cannabis. So while the Prop. 64 race is front-and-center here today, we’ll also be following a number of other campaigns—everything from the Democrats’ efforts to oust avowed cannabis opponent US Rep. Darrell Issa to a nasty cannabis-infused battle on the Oakland City Council to several local ballot initiatives to ban cannabis production or sale. —Paul Roberts
As eager as you might be to grab a bowl of popcorn (or anything else) and watch election results stream in, it’s still be several hours before polling places begin to close. Expect to see the first results coming in shortly after East Coast voting ends at 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific.
Curious about a specific state? Here’s when states with cannabis measures on the ballot close their polls (all times are local):
Arizona: 7 p.m.
Arkansas: 7:30 p.m.
California: 8 p.m.
Florida: 7 p.m.
Maine: 8 p.m.
Massachusetts: 8 p.m.
Montana: 8 p.m.
Nevada: 7 p.m.
North Dakota: 7 p.m. / 8 p.m. (varies by county)
9:30 a.m. — Flavor Flav endorses legalization, even in states not voting on cannabis today
Everyone vote for legalization of marijuana in the states of Nevada-New York-and DC-and California-and Arizona
jus like Oregon and Colorado
Oh, Flavor Flav, we only wish New York were voting to legalize today. Also, about DC: They legalized adult use in 2014, but Congress won’t really let them implement it. It’s a long story. Read about it here.—Bruce Barcott