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Voters Approve Recreational Marijuana In Maryland and Missouri

Recreational marijuana was approved by voters in Maryland and Missouri but rejected in two other states, signaling support gradually growing for legalization even in conservative areas. The results mean that 21 states have now approved marijuana’s recreational use, according to the Associated Press. Arkansas and North Dakota voters rejected legalization proposals on Tuesday.. A vote in South Dakota was undecided as of early Wednesday. Advocates said the results send a message to lawmakers in Congress about support for legalization. “A growing number of voters recognize that cannabis policy reform is in the best interest of public health and safety, criminal justice reform, social equity, and personal freedom,” said Toi Hutchinson of the Marijuana Policy Project. “State-level legalization victories are what’s necessary to move the needle forward at the federal level.” The state voting follows moves by President Biden toward decriminalizing marijuana. Biden said he was pardoning thousands of people convicted of simple possession of marijuana under federal law. Advocates of the marijuana initiatives have said Biden’s announcement boost their efforts.

Missouri’s measure will legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older and expunge records of past arrests and convictions for nonviolent marijuana offenses, except for selling to minors or driving under the influence. “It just shows that this is not a partisan issue,” said John Payne, who led the Missouri campaign to legalize marijuana use. “This is something that transcends partisan divides.” Payne expects recreational sales to start in Missouri early next year. Opponents will try to limit the implementation of Missouri’s legalization, including working with cities and towns to opt-out of allowing dispensaries .“The devil is in the details, and we will remain actively involved in Missouri implementation because we don’t need another Big Tobacco industry harming kids in Missouri,” said Kevin Sabet of SAM Action, an anti-legalization group. Maryland will also make changes in criminal law and create automatic expungements of past marijuana possession convictions.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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