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Marijuana got more votes than these politicians in the midterms

A couple walks into a polling center to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday in Provo, Utah.George Frey/Getty Images

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

Marijuana initiatives passed in three out of the four states where they were put before voters on Tuesday. A new Marijuana Moment analysis shows that in many cases, these cannabis proposals did better than other ballot measures or candidates for major office who appeared on the same ballot.

In all four states, more people voted for the marijuana initiatives than supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. And Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure got more votes than President Trump did in the state that year.



In Michigan, 55.9 percent of voters approved the state’s measure to legalize marijuana. That amounts to 2,339,672 votes.

Marijuana legalization got more votes than the winning candidate for governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who received 53.34 percent of the vote (2,256,700 votes). The measure also got more votes than incumbent US Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat who got 2,195,601 votes, or 52.2 percent. Obviously, legal marijuana also garnered more support than the Republican candidates who lost to Whitmer and Stabenow.

More people approved of cannabis than they did the winning attorney general candidate, Democrat Dana Nessel, who will need to carry out cannabis regulations and potentially defend them from any federal interference. Losing attorney general candidate Tom Leonard, who opposed the initiative but said he would uphold it if elected, got 435,000 fewer votes than legal cannabis did.

Voter turnout in the state was up significantly from 2014. In the last two midterm elections, about 3.2 million votes were cast. There were 4.3 million votes reported in this year’s election. That’s about 55.4 percent of the voting age population, or 14 points higher than in 2014, and close to general election levels, which were 4.8 million votes in 2016.


The total votes on Proposal 1 (yes and no voters) were higher than the totals for either Proposal 2 (anti-gerrymandering) or Proposal 3 (electoral reforms) on the same ballot, though those proposals had more definitive “yes” votes, which implies that Michiganders overall had stronger opinions on marijuana than those other issues.

Top five counties in Michigan for the initiative:

Washtenaw — 67.73 percent (116,152 yes votes; 55,347 no votes)

Ingham — 64.73 percent (76,683 yes votes; 41,783 no votes)

Wayne — 61.17 percent (396,354 yes votes; 251,549 no votes)

Kalamazoo — 60.16 percent (69,066 yes votes; 45,732 no votes)

Genesee — 58.90 percent (98,617 yes votes; 68,828 no votes)

Oakland — 58.88 percent (350,780 yes votes; 244,976 no votes)


In Missouri, where there were three competing medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot, only one passed, coming out far ahead of the other two proposals, which were largely opposed by activists in the cannabis reform movement.

The winning measure, Amendment 2 was approved by 66 percent of voters, or 1,572,592 votes.

The initiative got 824,615 more votes than competing cannabis measure Amendment 3 and 541,221 more than Proposition C, another medical marijuana proposal.

When compared to other issues on the ballot, the successful marijuana question got 113,016 more votes than Amendment 1 (redistricting and campaign finance reform), 84,224 more than Proposition B (minimum wage hike), and 470,762 more than Proposition D (a gas tax hike).


Amendment 2 also got 326,860 more votes than Josh Hawley, the Republican winner of the US Senate race who defeated incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill by winning 51.4 percent of the vote.

Missouri had 57.9 percent turnout, blowing the 2014 midterm turnout of 35 percent out of the water.

Missouri counties where Amendment 2 did extra-well:

St. Louis City — 82.85 percent (93,406 yes votes; 19,337 no votes)

Kansas City — 81.36 percent (89,721 yes votes; 20,558 no votes)

Boone — 72.68 percent (53,783 yes votes; 20,220 no votes)

Platte — 71.96 percent (31,799 yes votes; 12,392 no votes)

Clay — 71.53 percent (68,946 yes votes; 27,448 no votes)

Jackson — 70.29 percent (104,724 yes votes; 44,270 no votes)

St. Louis — 70.12 percent (309,789 yes votes; 131,991 no votes)

North Dakota

A total of 329,086 people turned out to vote in North Dakota. While the measure to fully legalize cannabis lost, it garnered 131,585 votes, or 40.5 percent of the vote, and did better than losing candidates in several races.

Marijuana got more votes than congressional contender Mac Schneider, who got 113,891 votes, or 35.6 percent, secretary of state candidate Josh Boschee who got 119,983 votes (39.2 percent), or attorney general candidate David Clark Thompson, who got 102,407 (32.2 percent). All three candidates are Democrats.

In short, it seems that the state’s voters favor legal marijuana more than they favor Democrats.


There were four counties where the measure did get a majority of votes. In Sioux County, 71 percent of voters (994 people) selected yes. In Rolette, 2,891 voted yes (58 percent), and in Benson, 1,153 supported the measure (51.3 percent). In Cass County, where Fargo is located, the measure passed by 50.8 percent. And in Grand Forks County, the measure outdid the statewide percentage rate, with 46.7 percent of voters (12,976) approving the initiative.


In Utah, where there are still about 8 percent of precincts yet to be counted, Proposition 2 to legalize and regulate medical marijuana has so far received 493,060 votes, or 51.96 percent. Proposition 4, regarding independent redistricting, received 454,991 votes, or 38,069 fewer than Prop 2.

The cannabis measure received substantially more support than losing Democratic US Senate candidate Jenny Wilson, who has tallied 288,488 votes, but far from winner Mitt Romney’s 63 percent of the vote.

In a county-by-county breakdown, the number of people voting for Proposition 2 was greater than the number voting for the House of Representatives winner in several counties, though there is not yet data available showing how individual congressional districts voted on the medical cannabis measure.

Preliminary voter turnout in Utah was estimated at around 54.7 percent at 5 p.m. on Election Day, far surpassing the last midterm turnout of 46.3 percent of registered voters.

Counties where the proposition performed exceptionally well:

Summit — 75.93 percent (14,543 yes votes; 4,609 no votes)

Grand — 74.94 percent (3,119 yes votes; 1,043 no votes)


Salt Lake — 64.38 percent (228,672 yes votes; 126,505 no votes)

Carbon — 61.52 percent (4,295 yes votes; 2,686 no votes)

Weber — 57.09 percent (44,126 yes votes; 33,160 no votes)

Read the story on Marijuana Moment.