If you pay much attention to news headlines and cable news chatter, you know that it was a big night for Democrats and diversity candidates. Election Day 2017 was also a huge success for marijuana reform.
On the five year anniversary of the first two states — Colorado and Washington — voting to legalize recreational cannabis, marijuana advocates celebrated a new wave of election results that should give the legalization movement added momentum. The two most significant headlines were gubernatorial election results in New Jersey and Virginia, where cannabis-friendly Democratic candidates sailed to victories.
New Jersey Closer To Legalization
In New Jersey, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy won convincingly, replacing Chris Christie, one of the nation’s most vocal opponents of marijuana. Murphy’s campaign emphasized his support of legalizing the herb. In his Tuesday night victory speech, he declared:
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana. And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
A Victory For Social Justice In Virginia
In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, who received support from President Donald Trump throughout the campaign. Although Northam is not a backer of recreational legalization, he has been outspoken for his desire to decriminalize cannabis.
Earlier this year, called for expanding the state’s medical marijuana program and decriminalizing the herb:
“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement — money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”
Related Story: Phil Murphy Elected NJ Governor, Cannabis Advocates Rejoice
Here are some of the other election results that will have a bearing on marijuana reform laws:
Detroit Relaxes Medical Marijuana Rules
In Michigan’s largest city, votes agreed to ease restrictions on medical marijuana facilities, making it easier for dispensaries to open and operate in the city.
City In Ohio Removes Penalties For Possession, Growing
Voters in the college town of Athens, Ohio, overwhelmingly decided to eliminate all penalties for possessing, cultivating, and gifting of up to 200 grams of marijuana. More than three quarters of the voters agreed with the proposal.