Midterms Scorecard: A State-by-State Guide to the Big Winners and Losers

The 2018 midterm elections continued the slow but sure path towards ending cannabis prohibition in the U.S. with crucial ballot victories and the election of dozens of pro-marijuana reform candidates to Congress and governorships.

For a discussion of the initiatives that passed or failed in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah, go here.

Freedom Leaf closely monitored 30 Congressional and gubernatorial races this election cycle, and, in general, the news was positive for the 50-year-old marijuana law reform movement.

Thanks to Democrats seizing control of the House of Representatives from prohibitionist Republicans, dozens of pro-reform legislative bills held up by Republicans for years will now get hearings and possibly floor votes.

Here are the results of some of the most important races:


The most pro-cannabis law reform politician in the nation’s history, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, ascended to the governorship of America’s most populous state. From San Francisco Supervisor to California Lt. Governor, Newsom has always been progressive on pot.

In the state’s 48th Congressional District (CD), longtime marijuana law reformer and one of the few Republicans in Congress supportive of ending prohibition, Dana Rohrabacher, was defeated by Democrat Harley Rouda, who also favors marijuana law reforms. We wrote at length about Rohrabacher’s cozy relationship with Russia and the campaign contributions he received from disgraced former Donald Trump 2016 campaign director Paul Manafort. It was time for Rohrabacher, who’d been office since 1989, to go. In addition, Democrat Katie Hill, a cannabis-reform proponent, beat Republican Steve Knight in the 25th CD.


One of the most vocal supporters and active legislators in Congress for ending cannabis prohibition, Democrat Jared Polis, is now the elected governor of Colorado. Polis, who’s represented the state’s 2nd CD since 2010 (the same year the Colorado legislature officially regulated medical cannabis cultivation and sales), has consistently been an outspoken pro-cannabis law reform politician. He’ll be the first openly gay governor in U.S. history.

Another race in Colorado saw marijuana law reform supporter Democrat Jason Crow unseat prohibitionist incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Coffman.


Democrat and cannabis law reform supporter Ned Lamont defeated Republican Bob Stefanowski in the state’s extremely close governor’s race.


The voters of Illinois ousted Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner in favor billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who’s son Joby is an active investor in cannabis-related companies and sits on the board of directors of the Marijuana Policy Project. Pritzker discusses his plans to immediately legalize recreational use in Illinois below.

In Illinois’ 6th CD, Democratic cannabis law reform proponent Sean Casten prevailed over the GOP’s fourth highest-ranking member and anti-pot pol Peter Roskam.


Finally, the citizens of Maine in 2018 will have the cannabis legalization policies they voted for in 2016 thanks to the state’s Democratic attorney general Janet Mills’ victory over Republican conservative Shawn Moody. For the last two years, current and unpopular governor Paul LePage has simply refused to implement the legalization law. That will change under Mills.


In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana with the passage of Prop 1, Michigan rejected a longtime opponent of cannabis law reform, state attorney general Bill Schuette, in favor of the Democrat who supported Prop 1, Gretchen Whitmer, to be the state’s next governor. Whitmer spoke at Hash Bash in Ann Arbor last April.

Democrat and marijuana law reformer Haley Stevens also defeated Republican Lena Epstein in the state’s 11th CD.


Democrat Tim Walz, a longtime supporter of cannabis law reform while a member of Congress, will soon occupy the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul after his triumph over Republican rival Jeff Johnson,


Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen—a supporter of cannabis law reform in Nevada, which legalized marijuana two years ago—unseated former Republican governor, prohibitionist and incumbent Sen. Dean Heller.

Democrat Steve Sisolak, a supporter of marijuana law reforms, defeated Republican Adam Laxalt, in the governor’s race. Also, Freedom Leaf board member and former Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom was elected to the Clark County Commission.

New Jersey

Democratic cannabis law reform supporter Tom Malinowski held off Republican political scion Leonard Lance in in the race to represent New Jersey’s 7th CD.

While the defeat of cannabis prohibition foe and Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke to Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas is unfortunate, the upset victory by Democrat and former NFL linebacker Colin Allred over longtime Republican pot prohibitionist Pete Sessions in the state’s 32nd CD softens the blow.

New Mexico

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, a supporter of marijuana law reform and harm reduction measures, beat longtime Republican Congressman Steve Pearce to become the state’s next governor. She’ll be the first Latina to hold the office.

New York

The Blue Wave crashed over New York with the re-elections of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who has signed on to federal legislation that would change marijuana’s legal status, and elections of newcomers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Anthony Brindisi to Congress.

Also, Democrats won control of the state’s Senate for the first time in 10 years, which bodes well for the eventual passage of the New York’s legalization bill.


Incumbent Democratic governor and marijuana law reform proponent Kate Brown defeated Republican Knute Buehler.

The co-sponsor of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment that protects patients and businesses in legal medical-marijuana states, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, was re-elected to another term in the state’s 3rd CD.


Two Democrats who marijuana law reform—Susan Wild and Conor Lamb—were elected to Congress.

In addition, Gov. Tom Wolf, who signed Pennsylvania’s medical-marijuana legislation into law, was reelected.


While the defeat of cannabis prohibition foe and Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke to Sen. Ted Cruz is unfortunate, the upset victory by Democrat and former NFL linebacker Colin Allred over longtime Republican pot prohibitionist Pete Sessions in the state’s 32nd CD softens the blow. Sessions’ defeat will have major impact in Congress; as the current chair of the House Rules Committee, he’s successfully prevented dozens of cannabis law reform bills from reaching the House floor.

Related Articles

2018 Election Results: MJ Initiatives Pass in Three States

Jeff and Pete Sessions Get Booted Out of Washington

Pro-Pot Candidates Head the Midterms Ballot

Senate Showdown: 12 Races to Watch

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