Midterm Madness: These States Lit Up the Vote

By David Jenison on November 11, 2018

The most divisive midterms in a generation took place on Tuesday, and both political parties had major victories and painful losses. The fight against cannabis prohibition, meanwhile, took a major step forward in several states. 

Ballot Initiatives

Michigan voters legalized recreational cannabis with majority support for Proposal 1, while Missouri and Utah both legalized medical cannabis with Amendment 2 and Proposition 2, respectively. Colorado also passed Amendment X, which will change the legal definition of hemp so state legislators can take advantage of federal changes to hemp law. 

In Ohio, several cities voted on decriminalizing cannabis, and it already passed in Dayton, Oregon, Windham, Fremont and Norwood. However, Buckeye State voters rejected State Issue 1, which would have reduced penalties for cannabis use and emphasized treatment over incarceration for drug crimes. 

North Dakota voters did not pass Measure 3, which would have legalized recreational cannabis. 

Though not legally binding, several counties (and a few cities) in Wisconsin placed cannabis-related advisory questions on their ballots to see if voters supported recreational and/or medical legalization. So far, it's a landslide for legalization, with 14 of 16 counties/cities voting yes. 

Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to felons. Many of these felons lost their rights due to non-violent drug crimes, and restoring their rights will affect future elections in a state that's so evenly divided. 

On the left coast, more than 80 municipal initiatives in California could loosen restrictions of cannabis commerce and enact other reforms, though the outcomes are not yet known. 

Key State Races

Texas Rep. Pete Sessions was the most effective prohibitionist in Congress. Tonight, Democratic candidate Colin Allred defeated the former House Rules Committee chairman, opening the door for major legislative changes at the federal level in the next two years. 

Rep. Jared Polis won the gubernatorial race in Colorado, becoming the first openly gay governor in the country. Polis is one of the most outspoken advocates for cannabis, and his campaign actively canvassed dispensaries to build support. 

Pro-legalization candidate J.B. Pritzker won the governorship in Illinois over Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, who strongly opposes recreational use. A similar scenario played out in Minnesota where Democratic Tim Walz beat Trump-backed prohibitionist Jeff Johnson in the gubernatorial race. 

Ned Lamont, who famously beat Joe Lieberman in a Democratic Senate primary in 2006, is currently in a neck-and-neck race with Republican Bob Stefanowski for the Connecticut governor's mansion. Lamont is a strong advocate for legalization. 

Despite all the gains, several prohibitionists won their reelection bids. Congressional incumbents Senator Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Rep. Paul Gosar (Georgia), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (California), Rep. Darin LaHood (Illinois) and piece-of-shit Rep. Steve King (Iowa) will all serve another term. Likewise, Trump sycophant Ron DeSantis won a tight gubernatorial race in Florida over Andrew Gillum, who made legalization a key issue in his campaign, while Rafael "Ted" Cruz beat legalization advocate Beto O'Rourke in the Texas Senate. 

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, arguably the biggest cannabis advocate in the Republican party, is at risk of losing his 15th reelection bid in California. The results are not in yet, but it's going to be a nail biter. 

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