Marijuana Legalization
December 21, 2022
Will more states allow recreational usage?

Midterm election voters approved recreational marijuana legalization in two states but rejected proposals in three others. Ahead of the elections, President Biden in October pledged to pardon people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law and urged governors to follow suit. At the state level, California passed legislation protecting many employees’ marijuana use at home. The U.S. House passed legalization legislation in April, but the measure is not expected to clear a Senate filibuster. Meanwhile, the industry is rolling out stronger products, including marijuana-infused beverages. But as marijuana use continues to grow, so does the risk posed by its rising potency.

Photo of CDB Kratom cannabis dispensary in New York City, on April 27, 2022. New York state approved its first licenses for retail sales of recreational marijuana in November, paving the way for more cannabis dispensaries, such as this one in New York City’s Times Square. (Getty Images/UCG/Universal Images Group/Lindsey Nicholson)

Voters in a diverse group of five states rendered a mixed verdict on recreational marijuana legalization in the 2022 midterm elections. Legalization passed in Maryland and Missouri, but initiatives lost in the highly conservative states of Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. 1

Justin Strekal, former political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which advocates for legalization, says the defeats demonstrate that the legalization movement has “reached the next stage.” Most liberal states already allow adult usage of the drug, so now the battle has shifted to less favorable terrain, Strekal says.