Marijuana Ballot Measures Pass In 2 States, Fail In 3

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Marijuana Ballot Measures Pass In 2 States, Fail In 3
Voting on weed comes one month after President Joe Biden took steps to pardon federal marijuana offenses and called on states to decriminalize weed.

Voters in five states were asked at the ballot box Tuesday about legalizing recreational marijuana, with mixed results.  

"I think it shows that marijuana legalization is far from a foregone conclusion and that it's an issue that deeply divides Americans. It is not something that everyone is on board with," said Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches To Marijuana. 

In Maryland and Missouri, voters supported legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana sales. Those states will also expunge criminal records for non-violent pot related charges. 

"If people are voting to decriminalize and legalize marijuana, to me that says that there's less stigma around the substance. So somebody with that conviction hopefully won't have to walk around with that stigma or be judged by that stigma or encounter prejudice, whether it be for jobs or housing because of that stigma," said Maritza Perez, the Director of the office of Federal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.

But similar ballot initiatives failed in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. While polling shows a majority of voters, including Republicans, do support legalization nationwide, legalization opponents say voters in some states have concerns about the potential for more driving accidents and other negative health impacts. 

"We don't think it's party politics. We think that people are really uneasy with the idea of more people getting high in an age of historic addiction rates," said Sabet. 

Advocates are hopeful that more thoughtful campaigning in red states will ease those fears and bring more success on future ballot initiatives.  

"I hope that future ballot initiative drafters will do more to include the civil liberties protections and criminal legal reforms needed, and that'll be taken in the minds that way will give people more things to vote for than just pot shops in their community," said Justin Strekal, founder of BOWL PAC.

The voting on weed comes one month after President Joe Biden took steps to pardon federal marijuana offenses and called on states to decriminalize weed.  

"No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," said President Biden. 

According to an Associated Press survey six in 10 voters support legalizing marijuana nationwide.