The defeat of three ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in this year’s midterm elections demonstrates that many Americans have deep reservations about the legalization and commercialization of marijuana. Count President Joe Biden and soon-to-be majority leader Kevin McCarthy as two such citizens.
Most notably, South Dakotans voted against the legalization of recreational marijuana use in 2022––after voting for it in 2020. Many counties that previously favored it flipped to oppose it. For instance, Pennington County, the state’s second largest county, flipped from 58.5 percent yes in 2020 to 50.1 percent no in 2022. Bob Burns, a professor at South Dakota State University, explained to ABC that “Since medical [marijuana] has been put in place we have a certain segment that is reconsidering their stance on recreational.”
After rejecting legalization in 2018, North Dakotans again rebuffed the misguided campaign to legalize marijuana in 2022. The group advocating for legalization, New Approach North Dakota, was bankrolled almost entirely by out-of-state interest groups, such as the New Approach PAC, and the in-state medical marijuana industry.