Here’s how five states voted on legalizing recreational marijuana

Marijuana activists hold up a 51-foot inflatable joint during a rally at the United States Capitol to demand Congress pass cannabis reform legislation on Tuesday, October 8, 2019.

Caroline Brehmann | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Voters in two states approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in Tuesday’s election, joining the growing list of states with regulated cannabis markets for adult use.

Maryland and Missouri join 19 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational marijuana, while legalization proposals have failed to pass in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Here is an overview of the five measures.


Following the passage of Maryland issue 4adults in the state will be allowed to own up to 1.5 ounces, or two marijuana plants, beginning July 1, 2023.

The amendment also allows those arrested for marijuana possession to be expunged and for those serving sentences for simple possession to have their sentences reviewed. It would also establish a cannabis business relief fund for small businesses, as well as minority and women-owned businesses, entering the cannabis industry.

Now, state lawmakers will decide licensing and taxation.

“Nothing has been set in stone about taxation or how these dollars will be distributed, which makes the upcoming legislative session extremely important,” said Kevin Ford, executive director of Uplift Action Fund, which advocates for the Equity in Maryland’s Marijuana Industry.

“Now the real work begins to ensure that the rollout of Maryland’s adult use market provides equal opportunity and fair resources,” he said.


Missouri voters approved state Amendment 3which removes existing bans on marijuana and allows adults to buy and own up to three ounces and grow up to six flowering plants at home.

A 6% sales tax will be used to facilitate automatic disbarments for certain nonviolent marijuana-related offenses, veterans’ health care, drug treatment and the state’s public defender system.

It also adds at least 144 new small business license holders to existing businesses licensed for medical marijuana, according to Legal Missouri 2022, the advocacy group that sponsored the measure. New licensees will be selected by lottery.

“Missouri is poised to become a tentpole for industry in the Midwest, and we believe Missouri will be an $800 million to $1 billion market,” said John Mueller, CEO of Greenlight, a cannabis company.


Arkansas voters failed to pass Number 4which would have allowed up to an ounce of marijuana to be purchased from licensed retailers.

The measure would have implemented a 10% sales tax, with funds earmarked for law enforcement, operations of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and drug treatment programs authorized by the Arkansas Drug Court Act, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

The measure did not provide for the removal of criminal records for convictions for marijuana or for growing plants at home.

North Dakota

North Dakota Measure 2which the voter rejected, would have allowed possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

It also reportedly licensed 18 retailers and seven grow facilities, imposed a 5% excise tax and allowed individuals to grow three cannabis plants at home.

He failed, with 55% of North Dakotans voted against and 70% of votes counted.

Marijuana legalization also failed to pass in the state when it appeared on ballots in 2018, losing by a 41% to 59% margin.

South Dakota

Vothers in south dakota rejected Measure 27which would have legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Individuals could own up to three plants at home, as long as they live in a jurisdiction where there is no licensed marijuana retail store. The measure did not provide for the creation of a regulated market.

This is the second setback for legalization campaigners in the state. In 2020, voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis, but the state Supreme Court overturned the results on technical grounds, a decision championed by Republican Governor Kristi Noem.

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