By Jacqueline Corba and Justin Chermol
The midterm "wave" may be neither blue nor red ー but green.
In two weeks, North Dakota and Michigan ー which both already allow cannabis for medicinal use ー will vote for legalized recreational marijuana. In the process, they could join the nine other U.S. states and the District of Columbia to legalize cannabis at the recreational level.
On the non-recreational side of the issue, Missouri and Utah will potentially make a push toward medicinal cannabis. At this point, 21 states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana.
All four states were deemed "red" states in the 2016 election.
Depending on the outcome, these states may send an earnest message to the nation ーwhich is slowly getting greener. According to a recent Gallup Poll, two in three Americans are now in favor of legalization.
This marks the third straight year that support for marijuana has increased and 2018 had reached an all-time high.
"This is obviously a very big year for cannabis in the elections," Cannabis Wire Reporter Isaac Fornarola told Cheddar's CannaBiz on Tuesday. "We have a situation where states are really determining their laws and they look very different"
But as support for the drug rises, so too does the opposition. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national organization against the commercialization of weed, is heavily invested in quashing support in Michigan and North Dakota, and the organization has raised serious cash to do it.
"Despite the polling, I think there's significant opposition effort, and I don't think we can count them out quite yet," Fornarola said. "The largest opposition group Smart Approaches to Marijuanaーaccording to their 2015 filings they raised $36,000. A year later, it was $4 million."
Luke Niforatos, chief of staff and senior policy advisor at Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) has a two-year-old daughter and was living in Colorado when the state began to allow recreational cannabis use for adults.
Niforatos is now against the commercialization of weed, a position shaped in part, by his daughter.
"When we legalized in Colorado we thought we were just decriminalizing it and getting people out of jail," Niforatos told Cheddar. "But now, it's about a massive commercial industry."
As marijuana continues to creep onto the ballot, more citizens are concerned about its affect on young people ー particularly in the edible market.
Niforatos knows that edibles are a considerable part of the marijuana industry, and hopes policymakers and legislators alike will see the dilemma that tasty marijuana snacks raise: "We know they are advertising to kids. We know that these edibles will get in the hands of kids. There's just a better way to reform marijuana laws than blanket legalize it ー there are so many other options we can focus on decriminalizing, we can focus on stopping another commercialized drug industry."
"I think it's really indicative that [the] public is ready to talk about this issue at least, and I think that sends a signal to lawmakers on the state and local level that this is something that will be addressed soon," Fornarola said.