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GOP strategist on weed: 'This is Middle America embracing this industry'

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

“Marijuana is going to win big today, and it’s going to win in a number of places,” GOP Strategist Michael McKeon predicted on Market Movers ahead of the outcome of today’s midterm elections.

There are six states with marijuana-related initiatives on their ballots: Michigan, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Utah. (Wisconsin voters are being asked their preference with less promise of lawmakers doing anything about it.) Aside from Florida, all of these states are considered “Middle America.”

“This is not an East Coast issue, this is not a West Coast issue,” McKeon said. “This is Middle America embracing this industry.”

General view of the annual Hash Bash pro marijuana rally at University of Michigan on April 3, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo: Paul Warner/Getty Images)

‘Yes, we want it’

McKeon said that Ohio, which he referred to as a “real bellwether state” for the 2020 elections, will see a lot of people saying, “Yes, we want it.” In Ohio, the Drug and Criminal Justice Policies Initiative on the ballots would lessen drug possession and use to “no more than misdemeanors,” among several other aspects.

According to Gallup, 66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana. Among Republicans, 53% support the legalization, while 75% of Democrats and 71% of independents stand behind it.

The most recent poll in Missouri, conducted in August 2018, indicated that 54% of its residents supported the notion of medical marijuana. The state has three different measures on the ballot: Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition 3.

Amendment 2 would implement a 4% sales tax to patients and permit growing marijuana at home. Amendment 3 would entail a 15% tax on “sales by dispensaries to patients.” Proposition C consists of a 2% sales tax, which would be used to “fund veterans, healthcare, public safety, drug treatment programs, and early childhood development initiatives,” according to the Springfield News-Leader.

(Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Weed is ‘such a gigantic market’

The Detroit Free Press reported in late October that 57% of Michigan residents support Proposal 1, which would “legalize marijuana for adult recreational use.” The state previously legalized medical marijuana in 2008.

Pending the outcome of the midterms, neither of Michigan’s gubernatorial candidates are poised to be standing in the way of marijuana legislation advancing. According to the Washington Post, the “Democratic gubernatorial candidate supports legalization, while Republican candidate Bill Schuette released a statement saying he does not ‘personally support legalizing recreational marijuana but as governor, he will respect the will of the voters.’”

McKeon doesn’t see marijuana legalization stopping with these states.

“Recreational [marijuana] is such a gigantic market,” McKeon said. “I think you’re going to see that in the first quarter of 2019, New York and New Jersey will both be embracing recreational.”

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells

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