Election 2020: Cannabis legalization results and live coverage
Legalization 2020: Welcome to Leafly’s live coverage
Here we are: Election Day. Welcome, friends.
Leafly’s news team will provide 12+ hours of rolling updates, vote totals, quotes, memes, tweets, posts, and random entertaining bits to keep your anxiety at bay and your chill level cool.
Sick of CNN, Fox, ABC, and MSNBC? Bookmark Leafly’s election page and return often. No matter what your political persuasion, we’ll provide good news and glad tidings. Legalization is marching on! Hang with us and watch it grow.
Updated Nov. 3 voting results
Each measure needs 50.01% to win. Results are updated as soon as state officials release more totals. These totals were last updated on Nov. 4, 2020, at 12:11 p.m. PST.
Montana adult-use win makes it a clean sweep for legalization in 2020
9:30 p.m. — With more than half of all votes counted, Montana’s adult-use legalization initiatives (I-190 and CI-118) are rock-solid with 60% approval from voters. That lead isn’t going to change enough to make a difference. We’re calling this one for legalization.
And with that, Montana becomes the 15th legal adult-use state in America.
Montana’s twin-measure victory also wraps up a clean sweep for statewide legalization measures across the country.
Not a single significant legalization measure failed at the ballot box. Those polls telling us that more than two-thirds of all Americans embrace marijuana legalization—well, they ain’t lying.
Now it’s time for political leaders to listen to what the voters in red states, blue states, and purple states are telling them. Legalize it.
Historic victory: South Dakota legalizes medical and adult-use marijuana in a single night
8:58 p.m. PST—In a historic first, the residents of South Dakota have legalized both medical and adult-use marijuana on a single ballot, in a single night. It’s the first time the feat has been attempted, let alone achieved.
With 68% of the votes counted, South Dakota’s medical marijuana measure, IM-26, is cruising to victory with an overwhelming 69% approval.
Constitutional Amendment A, which legalizes the adult use of cannabis, has been in a tighter race all night. But at this point its 53% approval margin looks absolutely solid. It’s not going to move enough to make a difference later in the night.
Will marijuana be legal tomorrow morning? No. A lot has to happen still. Here’s what comes next.
Are we looking at a clean sweep for legalization?
It’s looking like a historic night for legalization across America. So far every one of the cannabis legalization measures, and the medical psychedelics and drug decriminalization initiatives, are on their way to victory.
If South Dakota’s 53% approval for adult-use legalization remains solid, America will have 15 fully legal adult-use states come November 4.
In addition, the nation’s most sweeping medical psilocybin legalization measure (in Oregon) and drug decriminalization measure (also in Oregon) may well become the law of the land.
We’re not ready to claim full victory yet. But the returns are growing stronger as the clock moves toward midnight.
Well that was fast: Oregon decriminalizes all drugs, legalizes medical psilocybin in historic vote
8:47 p.m. PST—A mere twenty minutes after initial returns were released, it looks like Oregon’s two legalization measures, 109 and 110, are a lock.
With 86% of all votes counted, Measure 109 (legalizing the medical use of psilocybin) is leading with 56% approval.
Meanwhile, Measure 110 (decriminalizing all drugs) has expanded its lead to 59% among Oregon voters.
We’re calling both measures approved.
Does that mean it’s legal tomorrow? No. Here’s what happens next.
Oregon decriminalizes all drugs, maybe legalizes medical mushrooms in early returns
8:27 p.m.—Oregon voters advanced psychedelic medicine and research Tuesday night in early returns, which showed medical psilocybin Measure 109 passing. It has 59% support with 1.3 million votes counted. Oregon is a vote-by-mail state.
Oregon Measure 110—which decriminalizes all drugs—is passing in early returns. It has 63% support with 1.3 million votes counted. Fully decriminalizing personal amounts of hard drugs is a first in the U.S. The Drug Policy Alliance is claiming victory for Measure 110. So is The Oregonian.
Measure 109’s passage would create a program and screening process for providing psilocybin to individuals 21 years of age or older. Consumption would be supervised by licensed facilitators, and the program would exist under the purview of the Oregon Health Authority, as well as an advisory board of 14-16 individuals appointed by the governor. The measure requires a two-year development period for the Oregon Health Authority to lay out regulations for the program.
The Oregon Psilocybin Services Program would license and regulate producers, processors, delivery services and possession of psilocybin “exclusively for the administration of psilocybin services by licensed facilitators to qualified clients.”
Measure 109 was leading in pre-election polling, while Measure 110’s fate seemed uncertain.
The Democratic Party of Oregon endorsed both measures.
South Dakota adult-use measure slowly opening gap
8:21 p.m. PST—With 42% of all votes counted, South Dakota’s adult-use legalization initiative keeps slowly opening up positive space. The lead for Constitutional Amendment A now stands at 53% for, 47% against.
Montana opens with strong legalization lead
8:15 p.m. PST—With 19% of the vote counted, Montana’s adult-use legalization effort opened strong tonight, with a 60% to 40% lead.
Montana advocates are trying to pass two complementary measures, one that legalizes adult-use and another that sets the legal age for purchase and possession at 21.
Oddly, the legalization measure leads with 60% approval, while the age-21 measure leads with 61%. So…some voters don’t approve of legalizing it, but do approve of the age gate. Fair enough.
Victory for cannabis: Arizona becomes America’s 13th legal adult-use state
7:53 p.m. PST—With more than three-quarters of all votes counted, Arizona’s Prop. 207, legalizing the adult use of marijuana, holds a commanding 60%-to-40% lead and will cruise to approval.
Arizona thus becomes the 13th state to legalize the adult use of cannabis, following New Jersey by mere minutes.
What happens next? A lot. We’ve got it all mapped out.
Victory for cannabis: Mississippi legalizes medical marijuana
7:46 p.m. PST—In a huge victory for the legalization movement, the culturally and politically conservative state of Mississippi has legalized the medical use of cannabis.
With 25% of the vote counted, the approval for Initiative 65, the true medical marijuana initiative, has stabilized at around 74%.
Initiative 65A, by contrast, is sinking with only 26% of the vote.
Mississippi voters overall approved of medical marijuana legalization by a vote of 67% in favor, to 33% opposed.
Arizona’s Proposition 207 likely has it
7:14 p.m.—Arizona is going recreational in early voting returns reported by the Associated Press tonight. It has a commanding lead at 60% in favor with 70.93% of votes counted. It’s highly unlikely enough no votes will come in to close that gap.
Prop. 207 would legalize possession of 1 ounce of marijuana (with no more than 5 grams of it being marijuana concentrate), and 6 plants at an individual’s primary residence and 12 plants at a residence where two or more individuals who are at least 21 years old reside at one time.
Arizona has medical cannabis legalization, and will do $700 million in medical cannabis sales this year. Medical cannabis companies have pitched in for more freedom for more people in Arizona. Smart and Safe Arizona has raised $3.5 million for the campaign.
Arizona legalization opens with big lead
7:08 p.m. PST—With nearly 2 million votes counted, Arizona’s adult-use legalization initiative has taken a commanding lead, with 60.6% of voters approving and only 39.4% opposing.
Victory for cannabis: New Jersey becomes 12th fully legal state
6:50 p.m. PST—With the votes piling up, it’s apparent that Question 1, the measure to legalize the adult use of cannabis, is sailing to victory in New Jersey.
“Garden State voters spoke resoundingly,” commented NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “They are demanding their lawmakers end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization, and instead pursue a more sensible path of regulation and legalization.”
There’s still work to be done, though.
“Because Question 1 is a non-binding, legislatively referred ballot question, the New Jersey legislature must now take immediate action to draft and implement enabling legislation in a manner that is in accordance with voters’ sentiments,” said Carly Wolf, NORML’s state policies coordinator.
Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said: “The passage of this ballot measure positions New Jersey to take the lead in the Northeast and will push neighboring states, like New York and Pennsylvania, to take action on marijuana legalization. This is a victory for social justice given that Black residents of New Jersey are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white residents despite similar usage rates.”
Read more on what happens next for marijuana legalization in the Garden State.
Washington, DC just decriminalized psychedelic plants
6:37 p.m. PST—It’s about to get even weirder in Washington DC. Residents of the country’s capital just took a step toward more liberal use of hallucinogens, in response to a groundswell of interest in new drugs for medical maladies.
Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plants and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, makes certain psychedelic drug crimes the “lowest enforcement priority” of the District’s Metropolitan Police Department. Voters passed it 76-23 with 38% of votes counted.
Warning: These drug crimes remain in effect. So don’t go selling ‘shrooms on the corner, or something. “Initiative 81 does not change the legal status of entheogens or alter existing penalties,” states the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC.
Which plants are the lowest priority?
Pretty cool ones. Plants that contain:
- DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)
Ibogaine is in ayahuasca and can make you see and feel things that aren’t there. Same for DMT, mescaline, and magic mushrooms.
In theory, the law would mean that if there is someone jaywalking, the cop has to go deal with that before he bothers you for growing some shrooms, or having them, or conducting psilocybin therapy.
“The Metropolitan Police Department shall make the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older, for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi,” Initiative 81 states.
The measure might mean related cases would be halted. In theory, the law might take place after a 30-day period of Congressional review. But DC is under the jurisdiction of Congress, remember? Congress blocked the implementation of medical cannabis in DC for years.
Early South Dakota returns: Medical winning, adult-use tight
6:19 p.m. PST—With just under 10% of the votes counted, South Dakota’s IM-26 (legalize medical marijuana) is running away toward victory, with 69% approval.
CA-A, the constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis is locked in a tight race, though, with 51.4% approving, 48.6% opposing.
This was long expected to be the dynamic in South Dakota—medical passing easily, and adult-use having a tougher time of it. South Dakota is attempting to become the first state to pass both simultaneously, in part because of the state legislature’s history of undermining past voter initiatives.
We’ll keep a close eye on South Dakota’s adult-use vote all night.
Mississippi medical legalization continues to lead
6:03 p.m. PST—Mississippi medical marijuana legalization Measure 65 leads massively with 71% in early returns, according to vote counts published by the Associated Press.
Rival counter-measure 65A—concocted by state lawmakers to confuse voters—appears to be losing.
Mississippi voters showed an inclination toward legalizing medical cannabis going into Tuesday, recent polls showed.
A May 2020 poll found 81% total overall support for the idea. Specifically, support for Measure 65 ran double that of lawmakers’ proposal. There are 20 qualifying conditions presented in Measure 65, including PTSD, cancer, glaucoma, and epilepsy. Read up on the topic in Leafly’s legalization guide.
Once a fringe concept on the coasts, the idea of cannabis legalization is now deep in the conservative backfield, and Mississippi voters are sending a signal that its time has arrived, even in the deep south.
After 228,000 Mississippians placed Measure 65 on the ballot, lawmakers proposed Measure 65A to continue the state’s neglect of qualified patients. Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign communications director Jamie Grantham told Marijuana Business Daily the Legislative initiative “Isn’t a real program … it’s just another attempt to kill medical marijuana, it’s literally an attempt to block Mississippi from having a program.”
Mississippi has some of the worst cannabis penalties in the world. Read more about weed policy in Mississippi in our Legalization Learn Hub.
Florida legalization advocates dodge a bullet
5:55 p.m. PST—With 91% of the vote counted, it looks like Florida’s Amendment 4, which would have made it much more difficult to legalize adult-use cannabis, is going down to defeat.
The gap is widening, and now stands at 52% against, 48% in favor of Amendment 4.
Mississippi medical vote stays strong
5:49 p.m. PST—As more votes come in, Mississippi residents are making it known that they do want to legalize medical marijuana. Currently 66% of voters have said they do want medical legalization in one form or another.
Which form, though: the people’s choice (Initiative 65) or the legislature’s fake-out (Initiative 65A)? We’ll know more soon.
Mississippi voters can tell fake from real
5:40 p.m. PST—With only 0.06% of precincts reporting, one thing looks clear: Voters in Mississippi were able to tell the difference between Initiative 65 (real medical marijuana legalization) and Initiative 65A (fake).
It’s too soon to say whether either will pass, but in this one tiny sample size (613 total votes), 70.5% of voters went for Initiative 65 and only 29.5% for 65A.
Early New Jersey returns are a strong 69% for legalization
5:31 p.m. PST—Wow! Okay, only 7% of votes have been counted, but 69% is a walloping figure in any election. So far the people of New Jersey are speaking loud and clear: Give us legal cannabis now!
As of 5:31 p.m. PST, it’s 69% approving of Question 1 (adult-use legalization), 31% opposing.
Polls close in New Jersey, South Dakota, and Mississippi
5:04 p.m. PST—The legalization vote is (mostly) closed in New Jersey, South Dakota, and Mississippi, where polls closed at 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST.
The western half of South Dakota is still voting; their polls close at 6 p.m. PST.
We’re currently watching New Jersey returns closely—but there aren’t any yet. We’ll post them as soon as they’re available.
Florida constitutional amendment in a tight race
4:56 p.m. PST—Florida’s Amendment 4, which would require constitutional amendments (like marijuana legalization) to pass twice in separate elections, is currently in a tight race. With 65% of the vote counted, voters are rejecting it, 51% to 49%.
That could change, though, as more votes come in. Legalization advocates are concerned about Amendment 4, as it would double the amount of work and time required to legalize adult-use cannabis in coming years.
Here’s when we’ll start getting returns tonight
4:14 p.m. PST—When it comes to the states voting on legalization measures, nobody will know anything until at least 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST tonight. That’s when the polls close in New Jersey, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Florida.
Why Florida? Because a measure on that state’s ballot, Amendment 4, would make it doubly difficult to legalize adult-use cannabis in that state in the coming years. So we’re watching that closely.
5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
New Jersey (Question 1, adult-use legalization)
South Dakota (adult-use and medical)
Florida (Amendment 4)
District of Columbia (Initiative 81, decriminalize psilocybin)
6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST
Arizona (Prop. 207, adult use)
7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST
Oregon (medical psilocybin, drug decriminalization)
Montana (adult use)
Spark1 is ready for adult-use legalization in Montana
2:49 p.m. PST, MISSOULA—While some Montana dispensaries have been wary of a potential adult-use market, Spark1, which has four retail locations across the state, has embraced it.
We caught up with the company’s CFO, Marc Lax, in the midst of a bustling Election Day afternoon at the company’s Missoula store.
Leafly: Are customers calling about legalization? Do they have questions?
Marc Lax: They’re asking, ‘When it passes, can we come in and purchase immediately?’ [The answer is no, not until January 2022.]
If rec passes, there’s going to be a huge spike in demand for cannabis. How do you prep for that?
I think untethering has given us a taste of what rec is going to give us. More than doubling would be an understatement. If you’re not as efficient as possible, and you’re not prepared to double your infrastructure, put a Closed sign up, sell now.
If we base [our program] on what’s happened in other states, the big are going to get bigger and the small are going to go away. Team up [via the 50% horizontal provision in the adult-use bill], or close up.
Republican Greg Gianforte is projected to become the governor of Montana tonight. He’s anti-legalization. Are you apprehensive that he might stand in the way of the legal rollout?
I think he needs to ask himself what the repercussions of creating a more complicated rollout would be. We need to realize that cannabis in Montana is blue collar capitalism. It’s agricultural work. They go in and get dirty. They work hard. It’s not a simple ‘get rich’ scheme by any means. It’s as Republican and American as it gets. It’s good capitalism.
—Max Savage Levenson
Post-election goals: 100 strains to try before you die
2:39 p.m. PST—Anxious? Bored? Us too. Maybe this is the time to consider some life choices and goal setting. Consider 100 cannabis strains to try before you die, one of Leafly’s most popular articles—and life goals—of all time.
How many have you already crossed off your list?
Some business owners boarding up windows
2:23 p.m. PST—The owners of some retail storefronts are taking the cautionary step of boarding up their windows in anticipation of…well, nobody’s sure what. But it’s Election Day 2020. Weird stuff could happen once the returns start coming in.
The Associated Press is reporting that the sounds of hammers and power tools echoed through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., on Monday as workers boarded up dozens of businesses. In New York City, businesses from Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square to high-end shops in Manhattan’s chic SoHo neighborhood had already covered their windows. Similar scenes played out in Denver and St. Paul, Minnesota, with business owners fearing that Tuesday’s election could lead to the sort of unrest that broke out earlier this year.
Here in Seattle, we can tell you from firsthand observation that a few businesses downtown and in the Capitol Hill neighborhood had plywood over their windows on Tuesday morning. Leafly’s David Downs reports that storefront windows in San Francisco’s downtown core were also getting dressed in 2020’s latest wooden styles.
Governors are getting out in front—well, some, at least
2:07 p.m. PST—Ever since Colorado and Washington passed the first adult-use legalization measures in 2012, it’s been kind of a tradition for sitting governors to oppose legalization.
Breaking that tradition this year is New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who’s unabashed in his support for Question 1.
Also running ahead of the pack: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who’s been putting out very strong and public legalization vibes over the past few weeks.
That’s not to say every governor can see which way the wind is blowing. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has preferred to stick to the ol’ tried-and-true this year. She made this video for No Way on Amendment A, the folks opposing adult-use legalization in her state.
In Missouri, things are calm on the cannabis front
1:37 p.m. PST—It’s a warm, sunny day in Missouri!
The Secretary of State is predicting that more than 3.2 million of Missouri’s 4.3 million registered voters will cast a ballot by the end of this race. As of Sunday, 827, 928 Missourians had voted absentee or by mail – a number tripled from 2016.
Missouri’s medical marijuana program has been off to a slow start even though it was passed in 2018, and many believe that a change in leadership could help us speed things along for a wide variety of producers, products, and dispensaries.
As a traditionally red state, a win by gubernatorial candidate Nicole Galloway would be quite the upset – but no one here is giving up hope! Anything can happen in 2020. Can’t wait to see the numbers tonight.
– Janessa Bailey
It’s mesmerizing: Watch people count actual votes
1:04 p.m. PST—With four hours to go before the first meaningful returns, we’re all looking for entertaining time-wasters. Here’s one for those of you who may be ju-u-u-u-st a little elevated. It’s a live feed of city employees counting actual votes right now in Philadelphia. Enjoy.
Long lines in South Dakota, despite heavy early voting
1:00 p.m. PST—The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported heavy business at polling sites in South Dakota today, with “some waiting well before the doors opened to others standing in lines that snaked around hallways for at least an hour.”
Prior to the dawn of Nov. 3, nearly 40% of all eligible voters had already cast a ballot in South Dakota. The secretary of state’s office reported that nearly 228,000 of the state’s 578,000 registered voters had submitted an absentee ballot by the close of business on Nov. 2.
South Dakotans will consider a ballot with a historic first—medical and adult-use legalization, in separate measures, on the same ballot.
A mid-day check in with Leafly editors
12:04 p.m. PST—We’re watching seven legalization votes in six states today. Get your mid-day update from Leafly culture editor Janessa Bailey and California bureau chief David Downs on Instagram Live.
In Montana, voters are lining up to legalize it
11:39 a.m. PST, MISSOULA—Despite the frost on the ground at daybreak in Missoula, temperatures across Montana will be in the 60s today, prime conditions for Montanans stuck in voting lines—some of which are already more than two hours long.
As of yesterday afternoon, 69% of eligible voters here had already cast their ballots. Before Election Day had even begun, the state had set a new record for total votes in any election.
Montana’s dual adult-use measures, Initiative 190 and Constitutional Initiative 118, have seen positive polling throughout the campaign, but the necessity of passing both measures has caused some confusion among voters. In recent days I’ve witnessed patients calling their dispensaries, asking for advice on how to vote, and looking for clarification around whether adult-use will impact the eligibility of medical patients who are under 21 ( it won’t).
Some dispensary owners and patients are wary that adult-use would bring in lots of big-money out-of-state players that would decimate the medical market. I-190, however, calls for a 50% horizontal market and a one-year moratorium on licenses for non-residents. Both provisions should give current providers a substantial leg up in the adult-use market, if the measures pass.
— Max Savage Levenson
Missing the campaign watch parties? So are we.
11:20 a.m. PST—Live reports from campaign watch parties are one of the traditions of American politics, but not this year.
We’re in the midst of a third wave of the COVID pandemic, so most watch parties weren’t just cancelled—they weren’t even planned. If our coverage seems a little more virtual than normal, that’s the reason.
“Prohibitionist compares weed to sharks!”
10:41 a.m. PST—Time to check in on Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Project SAM, the nation’s leading marijuana prohibitionist organization. Last week he predicted that most cannabis legalization measures would pass on Nov. 3. He’s been pretty quiet so far today, but over the weekend he penned this thoughtful poem.
Hippie soap coming out strong for psychedelic medicine
10:25 a.m. PST—Dr. Bronner’s, one of our favorite eco-friendly hygiene brands, has been supporting legal and safe access to psychedelic-assisted therapy for more than a decade now. So today’s entheogen decrim vote in Washington, D.C., and medical psilocybin legalization vote in Oregon, have got the soap set worked into a lather.
We’re here all day, folks.
Good morning! Here’s a nug shot to ease your mind
7:54 a.m. PST —Election Day is dawning overcast and cloudy here at Leafly World Headquarters in Seattle. The coffee’s on, KEXP is turned up, and we’re ready to help you through the day.
Formerly incarcerated? Check here to see if you can vote
It’s not too late. FICPFM, the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People & Families Movement, has a handy Can I Vote? tool that allows you to input your location to see if you can register and vote today.
Track your ballot!
Worried about making your vote count? 45 states and the District of Columbia have ballot-tracking sites that allow you to check on the progress of your mail-in ballot. Here’s a guide to your state’s tracking portal.
But DON’T PUT IT IN THE MAIL TODAY. It’s too late for the mail. Hand-deliver it to a vote drop box.
Facts about ballot counting
You’re going to hear a lot about ballot counting this week. Here are some facts, courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures, which is a nonpartisan organization.
- Every state continues to count ballots after Election Day. That is totally normal, it happens in every single election. It takes time to count them all.
- No state certifies a winner, in any race, on Election Night.
- Counting all the votes is not tantamount to stealing the election. Counting all the votes is the election.
- Ballots can arrive after Election Day in 18 states, according to laws in those states.
- Military ballots can be received after Election Day in 29 states, according to laws in those states.
- Election results are certified at the state and local level.
- The president and U.S. attorney general have no control over how votes are counted.
- Any candidate or measure advocate may claim victory at any time—it’s a free country—but a victory claim or a concession speech mean nothing. It’s the actual state-certified votes that count.
Certifying the results: How long it could take
Each state sets its own rules for how long the counting process can take.
This map, created by the National Conference of State Legislatures, shows how long local election officials have to certify results.