Utah, Missouri, and Michigan vote to expand access to cannabis in midterm elections

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State lawmakers in Utah and Missouri may still attempt to rewrite the legislation

Yesterday’s midterm elections showed once again that marijuana legalization is one of the few issues where Americans voting for Red or Blue largely agree.

In Missouri, 66 percent of voters came out in support of medical marijuana legalization despite opposition from nearly every major physicians’ group in the state.

Under Amendment 2, patients will need a doctor’s approval to possess medical marijuana. But once they obtain permission, patients or their registered caregivers will be able to grow up to six marijuana plants.

The amendment also calls for the creation of legal dispensaries where qualified patients can purchase up to four ounces of cannabis on a monthly basis.

Utah voters also supported a ballot proposal to legalize weed, and Utah medical marijuana advocates credit the issue as one of the major factors bringing people to the polls. Voters in the state approved Proposition 2 53-47 percent.

Rewriting the laws

That doesn’t mean residents will have immediate access to medical marijuana. Measures in both states are at the mercy of state lawmakers, who may try to rewrite the laws before they are implemented.  Arkansas was the first red state to legalize medical marijuana with a voter-approved state amendment back in 2016, but patients still can’t legally access cannabis. A state panel charged with distributing permits to dispensaries and patients has blamed a major backlog for slow implementation.

"We hope lawmakers will implement the measure efficiently and effectively to ensure qualified patients can gain access to their medicine as soon as possible," Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the national advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project, told the Kansas City Star in reference to the measure in Missouri.

Meanwhile, Michigan voters yesterday went a step further, voting 54-44 to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Opponents to the measure claim the fight isn’t over and say they plan to challenge the law in the courts. But advocates like the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol say that Michigan voters “have resoundingly confirmed their support for legalizing and regulating marijuana."

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