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.

—David Downs

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.

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Warning! This ballot measure could kill legalization in Florida

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)
Mississippi (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)

Related
Warning! This ballot measure could kill legalization in Florida

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.

marc-lax-montana-spark1
Marc Lax, CFO of Spark1 dispensaries, welcomes a possible adult-use market as a great opportunity. (Photo: Max Levenson for Leafly)

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.

https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/election-2020-marijuana-legalization-coverage-and-results