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6 States Without Ballot Initiatives Where Voters' Choices Will Greatly Affect Marijuana Legalization

We’re four weeks away from the November midterm elections, and obviously a lot in the political landscape could change on that day. Democrats could retake Congress, governor’s mansions could flip to a new party and so much more. And while many marijuana advocates are focused on cannabis legalization ballot initiatives in states like Michigan, Utah and North Dakota, there are still plenty of places where marijuana legalization can achieve major victories outside of ballot initiatives.

Here are six states where voters could greatly influence marijuana legalization:

1. Illinois

The Illinois gubernatorial race will feature a clash between Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who supports legalizing recreational marijuana, and Incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who even in the past few days reiterated that he does not support legalizing cannabis recreationally. Considering Pritzker is polling about 10 points ahead of Rauner, it’s pretty certain Illinois will get a pro-marijuana governor next month.

2. Connecticut

Like in Illinois, the Democratic candidate for governor Ned Lamont supports legalizing recreational marijuana while Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski is less motivated to do so. However, Lamont and Stefanowski are pretty close in the polls, so it’s not quite the sure thing as it is in Illinois.

3. Florida

Progressive Andrew Gillum shocked many pundits when he nabbed the Democratic nomination for governor in Florida. Gillum has called to legalize recreational marijuana as part of his platform. His Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, says he wants to expand the state’s medical marijuana program but doesn’t think legalizing it recreationally is a good idea. Gillum and DeSantis are also running neck-and-neck.

4. Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a slightly different state when it comes to marijuana. Current incumbent Republican Scott Walker opposes any sort of marijuana legalization, but his Democratic opponent Tony Evers also doesn’t support recreational legalization. However, Evers says he thinks the state should hold a referendum on legalization, so that indicates that if the voters say they want legalization, he’ll stay out of the way. Again, this is another very tight race.

5. Minnesota

Minnesota is more like Illinois than the previous states. Democratic candidate Tim Walz says he supports legalizing recreational marijuana if elected governor. Meanwhile his opponent and Trump ally Jeff Johnson does not. Walz is largely expected to win next month.

6. Any Place with a Vulnerable Republican in Congress

The fact is marijuana legalization will probably not occur at the federal level as long as Republicans control both the House and Senate. Meanwhile many Democratic politicians have promised to advance pro-cannabis bills if they retake the majorities in Congress. So if you live in an area with either a vulnerable incumbent Republican or a toss-up race where Democrats can nab a seat in Congress, voting against the GOP is probably the best way to take a step closer towards marijuana legalization at the national level.


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