Recreational weed now legal in 21 states: Here's where it passed, where it was rejected this week

Legalizing recreational marijuana was on ballots in a handful of states for Tuesday's midterm elections.

Before Tuesday, 19 states, the District of Columbia and two other U.S. territories had legalized recreational marijuana in some form. Now, Maryland and Missouri can join that list – as amendments to approve recreational use, as well as bring some changes in criminal law, were passed Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voters rejected their states' legalization proposals, according to Associated Press counts.

"A growing number of voters recognize that cannabis policy reform is in the best interest of public health and safety, criminal justice reform, social equity, and personal freedom," Toi Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. "State-level legalization victories are what’s necessary to move the needle forward at the federal level."

Though not all recreational legalization efforts were successful Tuesday, medical marijuana use is already legal in all five of those states.

Here's what you need to know.

Key midterm ballot measures: Missouri legalizes weed, Kentucky rejects anti-abortion amendment 

In what states is weed legal? Here is the full list 

Arkansas marijuana legalization election results: Rejected

Voters in Arkansas rejected marijuana legalization in the state Tuesday. The proposed amendment would have allowed state-licensed dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana – in addition to legalizing possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for people 21 and older.

An employee at the Good Leaf Dispensary measures out marijuana for a customer on the reservation Mohawks call Akwesasne, Monday, March 14, 2022.

Medical marijuana is legal Arkansas, which in 2016 became the first Bible Belt state to approve medical use. Opponents of this year's measure to legalize recreational marijuana applauded Tuesday's results, while advocates said they would continue to push for change.

Midterm election results: See results in Arkansas

Maryland marijuana legalization election results: Approved

On Tuesday, Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing people over 21 to possess and consume marijuana recreationally starting in July 2023.

In additional to making recreational marijuana legal, the measure also brings changes in criminal law – including future opportunities for people jailed for or convicted of cannabis possession to apply for resentencing or expungements. Automatic expungements for select cases will arrive in 2024.

Midterm election results: See results in Maryland

Missouri marijuana legalization election results: Approved

Missouri also legalized recreational marijuana with Tuesday's midterms. The now-passed constitutional amendment will approve recreational cannabis use for people 21 and older. Sales are expected to start in the state as soon as next year.

Similar to Maryland's law, Missouri's measure will expunge past arrest and conviction records for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses – with the exception of those who sold to minors or drove under the influence.

Midterm election results: See results in Missouri

North Dakota recreational marijuana election results: Rejected

Voters in North Dakota on Tuesday rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution to legalize recreational marijuana.

The measure would have allowed people over 21 to use marijuana at home – in addition to legalizing the possession and cultivation for restricted amounts of cannabis. Policies to regulate cultivators and retail and other marijuana businesses would have also been established.

Midterm election results: See results in North Dakota

South Dakota recreational marijuana election results: Rejected

South Dakota voters also rejected legalizing recreational marijuana on their Tuesday ballots. The amendment would have legalized recreational use for people 21 and older – two years after similar legislation failed.

In 2020, South Dakotans across party lines voted to legalize recreational marijuana – but the law was struck down by the state Supreme Court, partially because hemp and medical marijuana were included a single amendment (violating a "single-subject" rule passed by voters in 2018). Medical marijuana still became legal under Initiated Measure 26, but recreational use remained illegal in the state.

Midterm election results: See results in South Dakota

Contributing: The Associated Press; Trent Abrego, Sioux Falls Argus Leader

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Recreational weed legal in 21 US states after Maryland, Missouri votes