By Grace Donnelly
November 7, 2018

The marijuana industry saw momentum in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Proposal 1 passed in Michigan, making it the first recreational marijuana market in the Midwest. While an amendment to legalize recreational cannabis in North Dakota failed, voters in Utah and Missouri passed measures to make marijuana available for medical use.

“We view Michigan as a particularly important market given the state’s substantial population and large medical-use market,” Canacord Genuity cannabis analyst Bob Burleson wrote in a note Wednesday morning. “We estimate Michigan’s market for marijuana to be valued at $856 million in 2018, growing to approximately $1.3 billion in 2022.”

Recreational sales may not begin in the state until 2020, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Burleson pointed out that MedMen’s acquisition of PharmaCann will give it early exposure in Michigan, as the Midwest market develops.

While cannabis laws continue to change state by state, primarily through ballot measures, experts note that increasing support across the country could push federal legalization to happen more quickly.

There are now 10 states with legal recreational marijuana markets and 33 where medical cannabis is legalized.

“Momentum is gaining for change in Congress to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies,” Morgan Fox, media relations director at the National Cannabis Industry Association, told Wired. “Two-thirds of the country wants marijuana to be legal, and politicians are ignoring that at their peril.”

Passing the medical marijuana measure in conservative Utah shows the way public opinion has changed, with a majority of Republicans supporting cannabis legalization since 2017, according to Gallup polls.

Along with the votes for legalization, a slate of pro-cannabis politicians was elected in Tuesday’s midterms.

In a key race in Texas, Republican Representative Pete Sessions lost his seat on the House Rules Committee, where he has been blocking votes on cannabis amendments. The Democrat who defeated him, Collin Allred, has called him out for keeping veterans with PTSD from accessing medical marijuana.

In Illinois, Democrat JB Pritzker successfully ran on a pro-legalization platform to unseat first-term Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Democrat Tony Evers defeated Republican incumbent Scott Walker in the governor’s race in Wisconsin. His platform includes legalizing medical marijuana, which voters in 14 of 16 counties across the state signaled support for in advisory referendums on the ballot.

These votes could also have a substantial impact on criminal justice in the states creating legal marijuana markets.

Michigan’s Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer said in remarks Wednesday that she would consider expunging records for those convicted of criminal activities that are now legal in the state.

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