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Midterms Yield Mixed Bag for Hot-button Marijuana, Abortion Laws  

The 2022 midterm elections featured a number of hotly contested congressional and gubernatorial races, but also included state-specific propositions and referenda with potentially massive legal implications.

ballot 1294935 640 smallSeveral states had legislative measures dealing with marijuana, abortion and sports betting on their ballots, and results varied widely.

In Maryland and Missouri, cannabis legalization efforts proved successful. The Marijuana Policy Project, which has worked toward legalization in a number of states, expressed optimism successful state-wide initiatives will push federal representatives to take broader action on a national level.

“A growing number of voters recognize that cannabis policy reform is in the best interest of public health and safety, criminal justice reform, social equity, and personal freedom,” Toi Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “State-level legalization victories are what’s necessary to move the needle forward at the federal level. That is how we build cannabis champions in Congress who are committed to taking meaningful action to put an end to prohibition once and for all.”

According to the advocacy group, the 2022 election marks the sixth in a row to feature multiple states legalizing the drug. There are now 21 states with legalized cannabis for adults 21 and up.

From Twitter

Bruce Godfrey @BruceGodfrey

"I am pleased that Maryland is moving towards prosecuting possession of marijuana the way that it was prosecuted under English common law: not at all. this is not to endorse the consumption of marijuana, only to endorse a conservative, frugal definition of 'crime'".

In Arkansas, a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana at a 10% tax rate was defeated with approximately 56% of voters rejecting the measure, according to uncertified results. Efforts in North Dakota and South Dakota appear to have failed as well.

In additional to being on the ballot in a number of states, legalization has become a hot-button issue for individual candidates as well. Pennsylvania senatorial candidate John Fetterman, who edged out Dr. Mehmet Oz in one of the most watched races in the U.S., has made federal legalization one of his key platform initiatives.

“Weed should be legal, nationwide—for jobs, justice, veterans, farmers, and revenue. It’s far past time we end the failed war on drugs and let go of this bizarre superstition and criminalization of a plant,” he said. “In the Senate, I’ll work to end the war on drugs by fighting to deschedule marijuana, expunge the records of those convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, and prevent the monopolization of this vibrant new industry.”

From Twitter

Jack McGuire @JackMacCFB

"California drawing the line at legal sports betting is hilarious. Can take heroin in state approved clinics but can’t take TCU +7 this weekend legally.".

Additionally, voters in several states weighed in on other salient pieces of legislation. As such unofficial results indicate:

  • Vermont: Voters overwhelmingly supported a measure to constitutionally protect abortions.
  • California: Voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. Voters also rejected an initiative to legalize sports gambling.
  • Michigan: Voters signed off on the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative.
  • Kentucky: Voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have explicitly made clear abortions nor government funding to that effect are a right in the state.
  • Montana: The fate of the Born-Alive Infants Regulation is too close to call at press time.
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