2021 Election Roundup: Colorado rejects cannabis tax hikes, Philadelphia pushes legalization


This year’s election may not quite have been as monumental as 2020 for the legal marijuana movement, but there were some major strides made in favor of cannabis that can’t be overlooked.

One state and one city voted on marijuana-related measures this election: Colorado and Philadelphia.

RELATED: 2020 Election’s Landslide Marijuana Win: 1 in 3 Americans Now Live in State Where Cannabis Is Legalized

Voters in Philadelphia voted on a referendum to add a section to the city charter stating, “the citizens of Philadelphia call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass legislation that will decriminalize, regulate, and tax the use, and sale to adults aged 21 years or older, of cannabis for non-medical purposes.”

The measure, sponsored by City Councilmember Derek Green, was approved by 73% of local voters on Tuesday, with 96 percent of electoral divisions reporting.

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Though the referendum is non-binding and does not make any immediate changes to the law, it does put increased pressure on Pennsylvania state legislators to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania cities have already decriminalized cannabis, and the state legalized medical marijuana in 2016.

Further west, voters in the state of Colorado rejected the only statewide ballot measure concerning cannabis this election: Proposition 119. If passed, the bill would have increased retail cannabis taxes by 5%, meaning recreational marijuana would be taxed 20% rather than 15% as it stands today.

RELATED: Why You Can’t Smoke Cannabis in Public (Even in States Where Marijuana is Legal)

Proceeds from this tax increase would have helped in funding out-of-school education programs in the state.

The measure was rejected by 54% of voters.

Recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2012, and there are over 1,000 licensed cannabis retailers in the state. Cannabis sales in the state last year surpassed $2 billion.


Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to elli.esher@hearst.com.