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Presidential elections are good for more than just a whole lot of rage. 

These election years see far higher voter turnout than others, particularly odd-numbered years when only local candidates and ballot measures are up for grabs. High turnout usually means more younger voters and more voters of color as a percentage of those voting. This makes these years crucial for those hoping to pass progressive ballot measures. Though many state legislatures have acted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, only Vermont and Illinois Legislatures have legalized the herb.

This means that for proponents of cannabis legalization, the most likely route remains through direct ballot initiatives. 2020 elections, then, are likely to see several new contests in the fight for national legalization:

In two states, legalization measures have already qualified for the ballot. In New Jersey, the legislature, unable to take action, has referred an initiative to the public for a vote. With polls showing high support, there’s a good chance New Jersey, a state my mother once feared driving through for thanks to regular police searches of individuals of the hippy persuasion, will be the country’s next green state. South Dakota will also have a legalization measure on the ballot, but in a state where it’s currently a crime even to test positive for marijuana consumed in a legal jurisdiction, passage is far from assured.

Drives to land legalization initiatives on the ballot are underway in a grab bag of states, but eventual outcomes are far from clear. In some states, support for legalization is high, but obtaining funds to secure the necessary signatures will be a challenge. Other states are well funded but will have a very tight race at the polls. Currently, legalization activists are fighting to put measures on the 2020 ballot in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. 

Medical marijuana will also find its way onto a few ballots. Initiatives have already been secured in Mississippi and Oklahoma, with others vying for a spot on ballots in Nebraska and Idaho. Though polling data is slim, approval seems likely in all four states.

Photo Courtesy of Forbes