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Marijuana could become legal in nearly half of the U.S. following the 2022 Midterm Elections—if voters in five states pass the ballot measures before them on Nov. 8.
In Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota voters are being asked whether they support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults. According to TIME, the measure looks likely to pass in three states—Arkansas, Maryland, and Missouri, per recent polling. However, the outcome is less certain in the Dakotas.
Oklahoma voters will also have the chance to vote on marijuana recreational legalization in a special election later in March 2023. If legislation passes, they would join 19 states and the District of Columbia.
This year, the cannabis industry has invested nearly $10 million toward legalization efforts in states. Still, organizations like the Missouri NAACP, have not endorsed the initiative, saying it would prevent people of color from entering the cannabis industry, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Diddy signs new deal as voters head to the polls
To combat the lack of diversity, Sean “Diddy” Combs is jumping into New York’s cannabis industry with a $185 million deal — a strong foothold that will simultaneously create the largest Black-owned cannabis company in the U.S.
“My mission has always been to create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in industries where we’ve traditionally been denied access, and this acquisition provides the immediate scale and impact needed to create a more equitable future in cannabis,” said Combs, chairman and CEO of Combs Enterprises, in a statement about the deal.
In a statement, Combs said he was eager to help diversify the industry. Although states including New York have created equity programs, Black people still own fewer than 2% of legal cannabis companies, according to a recent analysis from the Minority Cannabis Business Association.
Which states outlaw marijuana entirely?
Only three states—Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska—have completely outlawed marijuana (including CBD products), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty seven states and the District of Columbia allow for medicinal cannabis use.
Only 27 states have partially or fully decriminalized certain marijuana possession offenses, according to NORML, a nonprofit public-interest advocacy group.
Cannabis is big business
According to Colorado 9 News, this week marks 10 years since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, clearing the way for marijuana legalization in the state and prompting more than a dozen other states to follow suit.
Voters across the nation will make their own decision about a month after President Joe Biden urged state and local officials to follow his lead in pardoning those convicted on prior federal charges of simple marijuana possession.
Long gone are the days when a Presidential candidate swore he “never inhaled.” Today, political candidates proudly and publicly embrace the benefits of cannabis as a part of a winning campaign strategy. Only time will tell if American voters agree.