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How Cannabis Legalization Measured Up in the 2022 Midterm Election

Five states voted on the legalization of adult use of cannabis. Let's go over the results of the election as well as other medical use efforts across the country. 

While final votes are still being counted from yesterday’s Midterm Election in the United States, five states and other local jurisdictions decided whether to legalize recreational cannabis. North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Maryland and Missouri voted on recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older. Cities in states including Ohio, Wisconsin, and Texas voted on local measures to decriminalize the cannabis plant, limiting or stopping criminal arrests for simple possession of marijuana.

Check out our full analysis along with videos and everything you need to know about the latest on the reform of marijuana laws and the burgeoning cannabis industry in America.

Maryland voted to legalize adult-use marijuana

10 years after legalizing medical cannabis and 8 years after decriminalizing possession, Maryland voters approved with 65% of the vote to legalize cannabis for people aged 21 and over. The new law already has an accompanying bill that outlines the regulations for the adult-use program that goes into effect July 1, 2023. 

The new law:

  • Allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis will be legal for adults 21+. 
  • Removes criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces for adults. 
  • Allows residents to grow up to two plants for personal use and gift cannabis (however they cannot sell marijuana).

The new law also contains extensive restorative justice provisions, including:

  • Will expunge convictions automatically for conduct that is now legal.
  • Resentencing eligibility for prisoners who are currently incarcerated for any conduct that is now legal.
  • Those with convictions for possession with intent to distribute can petition the courts for expungement three years after serving out their time.

Maryland currently has a thriving medical-only market, open to any patient that would benefit from medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation. You can learn more about Maryland’s medical market from TheTalkingHedge’s video High-Level Overview of the Maryland Cannabis Market on Pipeline


For an in-depth look at the legalization process in Maryland, check out KIPMaryland’s video interview with a state delegate Cannabis Optimized - Episode 1: Maryland Delegate Gabriel Acevero

Missouri voted to legalize recreational marijuana

Passing with 53% of the vote, Missouri approved a bill that legalizes the purchase and possession of up to three ounces of cannabis for adults aged 21 or older. The new law allows at-home cultivation for residents who obtain a registration card with the state. 

The law contains restorative justice measures including:

  • The 6% state sales tax mandated for cannabis products will utilize the revenue collected to facilitate automatic expungements for people with certain low-level cannabis-related criminal convictions.  
  • Priority will be given to low-income applicants and people who have been disproportionately impacted by drug criminalization for the 144 microbusiness licenses for new cannabis entrepreneurs. 
  • Codifies employment protections for medical cannabis patients.

Missouri has an existing medical cannabis program, so the new law will allow those medical business licensees to expand to adult-use sales as well. Learn more about Missouri’s medical market from LMC’s video on Pipeline.

For a comprehensive review of Midterm Elections' Impact on Federal Cannabis Reform  check out TheTalkingHedge’s video on Pipeline.

North Dakota’s legalization initiative did not pass

North Dakota advocates failed to pass a measure legalizing the purchase and possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults aged 21+, after a similar defeat in the 2018 election. 54% of voters voted against the bill, which was intended to build upon the progress made with the respective medical and decriminalization laws that voters had already previously passed. The defeated measure also included allowing residents to grow marijuana at home and regulations for new businesses, but lacked any provisions for social equity or expungement of prior cannabis convictions.

Learn more about North Dakota’s efforts to legalize cannabis in IAmCannabisSativa’s video on Pipeline: North Dakota Lawmakers Advance an Adult Use Bill Out of House Committee 

South Dakota’s legalization measure failed– even though it passed in 2020

Cannabis legalization advocates have faced an uphill battle in South Dakota after the state had passed an earlier 2020 reform measure that was ultimately overturned by the state supreme court.

You can learn more about why the South Dakota judge struck down the measure after it passed with 54% voter approval on TheTalkingHedge’s video South Dakota Judge Strikes Down The People's Vote for Regulated Cannabis!?! on Pipeline.

Advocates rallied to attempt legalization again in 2022, this time with a much simpler measure that would legalize the purchase and possession of cannabis for adults aged 21+ – with no provisions for sales, business licenses, social equity, or restorative justice. 52% of voters decided against the bill.

For more information on Cannabis in the Midterm election, check out TheCannabisCutie’s video on Pipeline!

55% of Arkansas voters decided against cannabis legalization

The defeated measure would have created a regulated cannabis market for adults aged 21+ to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The measure faced vocal opposition from Governor Asa Hutchinson, a former head of the DEA, who urged police to campaign against legalization. The bill was intended to build upon the existing state medical marijuana program that voters had approved in 2016. 

The measure did not allow for at-home cannabis cultivation, and did not contain provisions for social equity in the licensing of new businesses or restorative justice/expungement for those with low-level cannabis convictions.

Learn more about efforts to fully legalize cannabis in Arkansas in CannabisLegalizationNews’ video Cannabis on the Ballot: Adult-Use in Arkansas on Pipeline!

Check out LMC’s video Arkansas Governor says Cannabis Legalization is the Federal Governments Fault, which goes into Governor Hutchinson’s staunch opposition to legalization.

Cannabis wins across different localities

Despite legalization’s defeat in three states, many cities and counties across the country approved smaller cannabis measures. 

Additionally, a Colorado state ballot measure to legalize possession of certain psychedelics and create psilocybin consumption centers is still pending the final result, but showing 51% approval at time of publication. For background on Colorado’s evolving psychedelics policies, check out KingIndica’s video MAGIC MUSHROOMS IN DENVER, COLORADO .

Where is cannabis legal in 2022?

You can legally find weed in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Keep up with all things related to legalization efforts on the Cannabis Activism and Legalization tab on Pipeline!



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Where Weed Is Legal After Midterm Elections

By Julia Ruiz

Julia Ruiz has worked in the cannabis space for 5 years, including political advocacy with the National Cannabis Industry Association, dispensary management, cannabis start-ups, marketing, and public relations. Julia is an outspoken advocate for safe patient access and policy reform, having been prosecuted for medical cannabis use in a since-legalized state.

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