For more than a year, Americans have been prepping for a hotly contested U.S. election -- and that's exactly what they're getting. It looks unlikely that a winner will be announced for president on election night, at least as of 2 a.m. EST.
But that's not been the case for the five states voting on cannabis initiatives or amendments. As you ready for bed after a late night or wake-up to review the happenings of the previous night, you should know that a green wave has swept across our nation. In other words, every marijuana measure looks as if it'll pass.
Here's a quick rundown of where each state's vote stands, as of 2 a.m. EST.
Perhaps it's apropos that the Garden State is going green. New Jersey was the first state to get an adult-use marijuana legalization measure firmly on the 2020 ballot and, unsurprisingly, it passed in a landslide. With 62% of the vote counted, New Jersey Question 1 is leading handily, with 67% of the vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.
Interestingly, New Jersey came close to becoming the first state to legalize the use and sale of adult-use cannabis entirely at the legislative level in early 2019, but had its momentum stall when certain social measures were introduced. It ultimately took a vote by the Garden State's populace to get adult-use weed legalized.
By 2024, Arcview Market Research and BDSA foresee New Jersey tipping the scales at more than $1 billion in annual marijuana sales.
The cactuses in the Grand Canyon State aren't the only thing that's green. With 70% of the votes counted, Arizonans have overwhelmingly approved Proposition 207 with just shy of 60% of the vote, thereby legalizing recreational marijuana.
Arizona's going green keeps the streak alive of states proving victorious on their second go-around to legalize recreational weed. California (2010), Oregon (2012), and Arizona (2016) all failed on their initial attempt to approve an adult-use pot measure, but all easily succeeded on their second attempt.
The passage of Prop 207 puts the development of rules, regulations, and enforcement regarding recreational cannabis in the hands of Arizona's Department of Health and Human Services. One thing we do know is Arizonans can expect a 16% tax rate when sales commence.
I expected Montana's recreational marijuana measure I-190 to be a bit of a nail-biter. I was wrong. With 66% of the votes now tallied, Initiative 190 has nearly 57% of the vote in favor of its passage. It hasn't officially been called by the Associated Press (AP), but I-190 looks on its way to being passed.
On one hand, the passage of I-190 isn't a huge shock. Recent polling from Big Sky found 54% support for the measure, with a Montana State University poll showing 49% support. In both surveys, the opposition was notably behind. But Montana is also a traditionally conservative state, so the margin of victory, as of the wee hours of the morning, is a surprise.
Montanans can expect a 20% tax to be levied on recreational weed, with the state's Department of Revenue responsible for developing the rules and regulations that would govern the industry.
Arguably the biggest question on election night for cannabis enthusiasts was, "What would happen in South Dakota?" That's because South Dakota made history by putting a medical marijuana and recreational pot measure (separately) on the ballot. Before tonight, weed was illicit in the Mount Rushmore State -- but that's about to change.
Measure 26, which would create a medical marijuana program in South Dakota for persons with debilitating medical conditions, passed in a landslide. With 90% of the votes in, 69% of South Dakotans voted yes to creating a medical marijuana program.
Much more interesting is that Constitutional Amendment A, which would create a legal recreational industry in the state, is passing with 53.4% of the yes vote. Though it's not been called by the AP, Amendment A looks on its way to passing. For those curious, Amendment A imposes a 15% tax rate and requires South Dakota's State Legislature to create guidelines for a medical marijuana program and the hemp industry.
The Magnolia State is one of the most politically conservative states in the country, and it just went green for medical marijuana.
Mississippi residents were asked a two-part question. The first part (Measure 1A) determined whether or not voters were in favor of legalizing medical pot. With 92% of the vote in, 68% of Mississippians favored having some form of medical cannabis program.
The second part (Measure 1B) determined which type of medical program they preferred. Initiative 65 allowed physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for roughly 20 qualifying conditions. Meanwhile, Alternative 65 restricted cannabis smoking to terminally ill patients and added a lot of extra oversight. Initiative 65 overwhelmingly passed with 74% of the vote, meaning Mississippi is green-lighting the least-restrictive of the two measures.
U.S. marijuana stocks are in great shape
Assuming the two uncalled results hold -- and I'm projecting they will -- the U.S. now has 36 states that have legalized medical marijuana, 15 of which will also allow for the consumption and/or retail sale of adult-use cannabis.
The green wave has really begun to take shape in the U.S., and it really doesn't matter who wins the White House. It's been made clear that the federal government is going to allow states to dictate their own path on cannabis, which is great news for marijuana stocks.
Some multistate operators (MSO) picked up direct wins with tonight's votes. Curaleaf (OTC:CURLF) and Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF) both have operations in New Jersey, while Harvest Health & Recreation has its largest presence in its home state of Arizona.
But it's really about the bigger picture, with Green Thumb holding 96 dispensary licenses in a dozen states, and Curaleaf sporting more than 130 retail licenses in 23 states. These MSOs are poised to benefit from the opening of new locations in legalized states, organic growth from existing locations, and adult-use legalizations in states where medical marijuana is currently sold. Election night 2020 has given credence to the idea that Curaleaf and Green Thumb could soon be bringing in well over $1 billion in sales annually.
The green rush is under way, and it could be one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. this decade.