Cannabis Was on the Ballot in Five States – But What Do these Results Really Mean for Patients?

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Prior to the election, there were 19 states that allowed both recreational adult use and medical cannabis, 29 allowing medical cannabis only, and 2 states with a total prohibition on cannabis. Electors in five states, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota, had cannabis-related ballot measures to consider yesterday. Each of the states already have an established medical cannabis law so the ballot questions were largely focused on recreational use.

While these ballot measures did not focus on medical cannabis patients, there are still ways in which patients may be impacted. Whether a ballot measure passed or not, it is still critical for patient advocates to continue fighting for improved access in their state. And for advocates in states with newly approved cannabis ballot measures, it is more important than ever to stay involved and ensure that the recreational market is regulated separately from the medical market, preserving patient access and protections that are already enjoyed in the state.

Yesterday, votes were cast across the nation not only for state ballot measures and local policymakers, but for federal representatives and senators, and in turn control of Congress. This blog post focuses on the state ballot measure results only.

While Election Day is only one day of the year, often vote tabulations take longer. Because of this, at the time of publication of the blog, we still do not know the winners for a number of key federal seats. What we do know so far is that a number of winning candidates, including Senator-elect John Fetterman, Senator Brian Schatz, Representative Brian Mast, and Representative David Joyce, have been outspoken advocates for medical cannabis access, and that medical cannabis remains a bipartisan issue, with supporters on both sides of the aisle.

We don’t yet know the final makeup of the 118th Congress, or whether there will be a change in chamber leadership. The final results and chamber party alignment will determine the shape of policy making for the next two years. ASA is keeping a close eye on federal election results and will be publishing a separate blog addressing what the federal results mean for medical patients once we know more. Keep an eye out for that blog!

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